Muncaster Castle and Gardens,
(Including the Muncaster Hawk and Owl Centre)
Tel:- 01229 717 614
- Historic haunted castle
- 77 acres of Gardens
- Hawk & Owl Centre
- Children's trails and playground
Muncaster is three attractions in one, featuring not only the castle, which is both historic, and haunted, but also extensive gardens, and a range of activities for children to enjoy. As if that wasn't enough, there is also the Hawk and Owl centre, which features a range of birds of prey and daily flying displays. All in all, Muncaster is an all day attraction suitable for people of all ages.
Muncaster Castle started life as a fortified Pele Tower, and has been enlarged and extended over the centuries to create the historic building we see today.
The house is open to visitors, and a tour takes from 45 minutes to an hour. The audio tour, narrated by members of the Pennington Family (who still live in the castle), guides you around the gloriously decorated state rooms, explaining their history and also the folklore attached to previous residents and visitors.
Of great interest is Tom Fool, a court jester at Muncaster in the 16th century. Tom Fool's real name was Tom Skelton, and he was involved in more than simply making the inhabitants laugh. He was, in contrast to his occupation, a man of mean spirit and a self confessed serial killer. In fact, his ghost is reputed to be still causing mischief today. It is from Tom that we get the modern word 'Tomfoolery'
A blend of cultivated areas, lawns and woodlands, Muncaster's gardens cover a large area, and with such diversity of planting there is much to see and enjoy.
Although some parts of the garden are formal in their design, much has a wild and natural feel to it. The gardeners here have long experience of dealing with the climate, which is not always conducive to neat borders and regimented ranks of bedding plants. By carefully planting species capable of coping with the winds coming from the Irish Sea, and using larger plants to shelter less hardy ones, they have produced a garden to delight, with banks of colour cascading down the hillsides and ravines surrounding the Castle.
Flowering camellias, magnolias and native wild daffodils abound in March, whilst in May, rhododendrons and azaleas create a riot of colour.
A word of warning. The gardens are in a wild and hilly location so sturdy footwear is recommended. Also, some paths are unsuitable for baby buggies, wheelchairs and mobility scooters. You are advised to ask for advice on your arrival as to which paths are the most suitable for those on wheels.
Muncasters' facilities for Children are innovative and fun. That old favourite, the Adventure Playground is situated close to the café, shop and toilet, enabling children to play on the swings, slides and climbing apparatus whilst under the watchful eye of their parents. Next door to it is the Playground Lawn with lots of wide open space to run about and with plenty of benches and picnic tables available.
The Enchanted Trail is aimed at younger visitors, and features woodland dens, stepping stones and fairy doors.
The Meadow vole Maze is also popular with younger visitors. Inside, children imagine they are just two and a half inches tall, the same as a Meadow Vole. It is not a maze in the sense that it is possible to get lost, but an indoor trail where the challenges of long grass, and other hidden dangers, show how hard life is when you are under 3 inches tall. Children under 5 may find some parts a little frightening, so close adult supervision is recommended.
Hawk and Owl Centre
The Hawk and Owl centre is home to a diverse range of birds some of which are in aviaries, whilst a number of the raptors have perches in the roofed mews in the daytime. Information boards help you learn more about each one, and falconers are on hand to answer questions.
Flying displays are held, so if you are in the centre at that time, some of the birds may be missing. However, the bird displays are a highlight of a visit, and not to be missed. They are held twice daily in the main season
Every afternoon, all year round, the wild heron feed takes place. This is an absorbing natural spectacle, not to be missed.
Although well behaved dogs are welcome to much of the Muncaster site, they are not allowed in the Hawk and Owl Centre, which includes the Old Rose Garden arena where the flying displays are held. Guide dog owners should contact the Castle for advice on which parts of the attraction they are allowed.
Cumberland Sausage Festival (29 Apr-1 May 2017)
A three day celebration of good food, drink and all things Cumbrian, held over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.
With celebrity chefs, cookery demos, sausage competitions, entertainment for all ages and of course the food! To sample, to buy to eat and to take home for later.
As well as purveyors of the famous Cumberland sausage, the Festival welcomes a range of specialist and gourmet food and drink suppliers from Cumbria and Northern Britain, plus a selection of craft and giftware.
Entrance prices are as normal.
Muncaster Festival (28-30 May 2017)
A three day extravaganza of fun with a carnival atmosphere on the Castle front lawn. The festival culminates with the International Jesters Tournament, held on the final day, where modern day jesters battle it out to win the prestigious title of Fool of Muncaster.
Muncaster is a haunted castle, so when Halloween comes round, there is a spooky atmosphere, and a range of special events. Check out our October What's on page for details, as when they are announced we'll be posting them.