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An imposing Castle overlooking the River Esk, in the west of the Lake District and dating back to Roman times

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The Castle
Woodland Gardens
World Owl Trust
Muncaster Castle stands imposingly on the River Esk, in the west of the Lake District, close to the sea. Parts of the castle are 700 years old, but the foundations show that there has been a fortification situated here since Roman times. It has been the subject of frequent expansions and renovations, and in the modern age, it has become a private family home. In fact, it has been owned by the same family - the Penningtons - for over 800 years!
Thankfully, they still open the castle to the public, so everyone can get a chance to see the interesting collection of historic art, furniture, books, and other artefacts. Visitors can also learn all about the building's colourful array of previous guests and residents.

Part of Muncaster Castle
Photo Ru Lochlea
While you're exploring, make sure you keep an eye out for unusual goings-on. Muncaster Castle is actually known as being one of Britain's most haunted buildings - and all sorts of ghosts have been seen here, from a murdered local town girl, to Henry VI, to the spirit of a lion! If you consider yourself to be quite brave, you can test your nerve by booking an "all night vigil" at the castle. Previous guests have reported all sorts of unnerving phenomena, including sudden temperature changes, and the sound of crying children.
If you decide to visit during the day instead, you'll find Muncaster to be a much friendlier place. It is situated within a 1,800 acre estate, which is full of lush woodland, open fields, and plentiful wildlife. The 77 acres of gardens are especially beautiful, giving home to hundreds of rare and exotic species, including many not commonly found outside of Asia. The "Terrace Walk" in particular is notable for its views of the Eskdale valley and the surrounding hills. It was once described by the philosopher John Ruskin as "the gateway to paradise".
This is also the site of one of Europe's leading rhododendron collections, which is situated alongside colourful displays of camellias, azaleas, and many others. The incredible scenery may well inspire you to create your own garden, and when that idea strikes you, then you should pop along to the Muncaster Plant Centre. This retail centre sells hundreds of different species, including several that are difficult to find anywhere else.
After enjoying the plantlife, there's still plenty to do. Children will enjoy the "Meadow Vole Maze", a unique attraction that shows you what it might be like to be only two-and-a-half inches tall! You'll learn about the perils of being a local meadow vole, while trying to find the way through the labyrinth.
Muncaster Castle also contains the World Owl Trust, which is home to over 50 different species, including both the world's biggest - the European Eagle Owl - and some of the tiniest, such as the Pygmy Owl. CCTV cameras inside the owl nests give an insight into how they care for their young during breeding season. Also, every afternoon, the owls are brought to the castle lawn for the popular "Meet the Birds" event, providing the opportunity for a very close encounter!

An Owl at Muncaster Castle
Photo Dave Haygarth
It's hard to run out of things to see at Muncaster Castle. It's one of the most attractive and interesting places in the Lake District, making it a perfect day trip for those of any age.
Visitor Information
Muncaster Castle is open Sunday to Friday (closed for private functions on Saturday), 10.30am to 6pm (earlier in winter). Entry costs around £12 for adults, £8 children. Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, Cumbria CA18 1RQ. Tel: 01229 717 614

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