With a 50/50 forecast for rain, we headed to Wray Castle today. If it poured down, we’d be safe and warm inside the castle, knowing that there’s plenty to entertain the children, and if not we could venture outside too.
Wray Castle is on the western shores of Windermere, south-west of Ambleside. OS map OL7, grid reference 375010. It’s a National Trust place, so there’s free parking and free entry if you’re a member. If not, parking is £7.50/day and entry to castle (if you want to go in) is £8.50 adult, £4.25 child or £21 for a family. Parking gets full quickly so arrive early.
The day started a bit grey and cloudy, so we went in for a play first. It’s such a unique NT property. There’s no antique furniture in there, nothing is roped off or off limits. The entire place is for kids! Dressing up room, craft room, indoor cycling, kayaking and camping. Soft play building blocks room, giant jenga/connect 4/ checkers, you can even build your own dry stone wall! Additionally there’s a huge Peter Rabbit themed play area with Peter’s burrow, Mr McGregor’s garden, Nutkin’s tree house and Old Brown’s nest! And a whole load more.
As the sun came out, we took advantage and did a short 1km loop down to the lake shore of Windermere. Several little beaches to throw stones into and a small rocky headland to climb and look at the views. Looped back round to the castle. We did take our beat up McLaren stroller with us, but I wouldn’t recommend it really. I had to ask my little one to get out numerous times as there were patches of mud and big tree roots and stones. But we made it! A longer loop is also possible by continuing round the lake shore a bit further.
We then headed to the fantastic natural outdoor playground. They’ve just opened the new outdoor wooden play castle and now have two tyre tree swings. As well as tunnels, ramped rope climb, tight rope, “spider” climbing frame, stepping stones, hides and more. And with views of the lake and surrounding fells, we were even lucky enough to visit when the bluebells were looking stunning.
If you’re not interested in going inside the castle, the outdoor play area and the lake shore are free to access. Parking is £2 for 1 hour, £4 for 2 hours, £6 for 4 hours or £8 all day. Alternatively you could get the boat from Ambleside, it stops at Wray Castle in peak season. I believe there is also a bus from Ambleside too.
National Trust membership is worth it for this place alone. We must come at least 10 times a year! Having taken a picnic with us, our entire day (9.30am-4pm!!) cost nothing! Note there is a cafe that serves cold food and drinks if you wished to have food there.
There’s a lot of photos from today’s adventure, so I’ll put them into batches. First batch is Wray Castle, views from the castle and some of the rooms inside. Scroll down for photos of the shoreline walk and further down for the natural playground.
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PHOTOS: Wray Castle – views from castle and rooms inside
PHOTOS: Shoreline walk near Wray Castle