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Wray Castle, Ambleside

Categories: Castles, Tourist Spots
Inspirock Rating:
2.9/5 based on 1,000+ reviews on the web
Visit Wray Castle, a mock-Gothic castle sitting on the shores of Lake Windermere. Join a free tour to learn about the history of the 1840s castle, now mostly devoid of the paintings, antiques, and furniture typical of other castles. Let your kids have fun in the dress-up and castle-building areas. In the gardens and grounds, hop on a rope swing or walk along one of the trails. Take in the views of Lake Windermere and the nearby fells. Tree-lovers can enjoy the selection of Wellingtonia, redwood, Ginkgo Biloba, weeping lime, and beech trees. With our online itinerary creator, Ambleside attractions like Wray Castle can be center stage of your vacation plans, and you can find out about other attractions like it, unlike it, near it, and miles away.
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  • Let's just start with, I love exploring national trust places/locations and have enjoyed many visits from childhood to my age today, so I thought that given the reviews were a bit hit and miss I would...  read more »
  • Very different and great fun for families. Take packed lunch as not usual restaurant facilities. Lovely to go by boat and walk back...lots of walks to do that side of Windermere too. Thank goodness fo...  read more »
  • We traveled here by a little boat from Ambleside which leaves every hour or so and is a lovely little then stroll up to what looks like a very old castle but isn't.!!!.on the inside there ...  read more »
  • NT explained that this property is "different" from their usual type and that there was no collection (furnishings), so fair enough. However......I was very concerned at the total lack of regard that the hoards of kids inside were actively encouraged to display towards what still is an historic building. Internally the castle has been given over to kids 150% running around and screaming etc. Each room has different play areas, and whilst I like this concept, I feel it's been used as an excuse for National Trust to opt out of their Duty of Care (care being the operative word here), towards a property that has been entrusted to them. As far as I'm aware,the National Trust was created to "preserve and protect" for future generations?! When I saw a kid running along the upper hallway rattling his wooden sword along the original wooden balustrade, and whacking the stair post, I expressed my concerns to one of the many staff who explained that they "encourage children to treat the castle like their own home". Well, if my kids treated anything in our house like that they'd living in the garage! Why don't they split the gaggle of staff up and have them positioned around the upper rooms and at least pretend they have some control over what's going on in this property? This is not how NT should be treating our " Special Places."
  • Absolutely amazing. There's lancaster castle, sizergh castle and then there's wray castle. A gem of a find with its awesome views. Hidden rooms secret corridors and delights to please everyone. The potential here is huge. Can't wait to come back in summer.
  • If there are two places I would want to buy and own in the Lake District, Wray Castle is one (the other is Allen Bank - also National Trust). The place isn't really a castle in the traditional sense but a retirement home build in the mid-1800s for an old couple. Wish I could afford such a place when I retire! It's always very busy and you need to get there early to get a parking space. Just next to the car park is an excellent adventure play area for the kids (and fun-minded adults)!. Inside - well a word of warning. As other reviews have pointed out, Wray Castle is very much orientated towards children. Most of the rooms have activities such as dressing up or a mock up of the steam yacht Gondola from Coniston, but the old dining room is the most fun anyone can have - soft building bricks to make your very own castle! It's usually packed with screaming kids, but ours love it and it's terrific fun. Right upstairs are a series of rooms done up like Peter Rabbit's home, which is brilliant for the youngsters. I love it! The first few times we visited there were less children's activities., and we saw some rooms that you don't get to see any longer. hopefully we'll visit one day soon when the cellars are open for tours! The guides are informative and you can get a good tale of the history of the place on a guided tour. The wheel on the staircase is a throwback to when the Merchant Navy owned the place, and the en-suites that proliferate are a result of the place being used as a training facility after they left. The castle has got good views down to the lake and over the countryside, and the feel and size of the place made me fall in love with it as soon as I went the first time, and we've been many times! Always loads of activities for the kids to do, they particularly enjoy building castles, dressing up, and basically running around exploring (sorry to those who don't like kids doing this!) The grounds are extensive and there's usually some great things for the kids (again) - fire building, survival trails, frisbee golf (family one that). You can enjoy a good walk along the western shore of Windermere. The National Trust staff are friendly and helpful and the sandwiches and cakes in the pop-up cafe are delicious, though perhaps a rad expensive. There's a shop and you can name your own books on the painted wall in the library. Beatrix Potter used to stay there on holiday and you can see photographs by her father in one room. Lately more rooms have been turned over to activities for children, and there will be more children than you can handle inside! But don't let that put you off (obviously won't if you have kids begging for great activities on a wet (or dry) day). Maybe get there early or later and the place will be quieter and you can have a good explore and appreciate the wonderful old place.
  • We've been members of the National Trust for many years and I don't think we've ever visited one of their properties which is quite like this. From the outside it's impressive, a mock castle built in 1840 situated on the western side of Windermere close to Ambleside. You can arrive by car, bike or on foot as usual, but you can also catch a launch from Ambleside pier to the castle which takes around 15 minutes and feels a little more exciting. The grounds immediately in front of the castle are given over to a rather chaotic car park, and between that and the lake is an adventure playground. Climb a few steps and you reach the castle entrance, where National Trust staff will either take your admission charge or scan your membership cards for free admission. We were presented with maps and stickers to wear, and off we went to explore. It's at that point that it all kind of fell apart. The castle reached the National Trust in an unfurnished state, so it's very bare inside - structurally complete and sound, but don't expect furniture, or exhibits really. What you should expect though is children - lots and lots of children - running around the place, making a racket, pushing past you in corridors and so on. It would appear that the castle has been pretty much given over to kids, as most rooms seem to have something for them to play with, including a giant Connect 4 set in one room, and in another an entire wall which they could write on in chalk, and that was before we reached the section of the house given over to some sort of Peter Rabbit attraction which just seemed to be a mass of screaming children when we opened the door before quickly retreating. The castle looks and feels scruffy, and there's an air of desperation to it. At one point we saw a notice from the National Trust asking for suggestions for what they should do with the place, so it's pretty clear that they have no idea themselves. We climbed one staircase and found ourselves in a rather dirty room with a sign on one wall telling us how great the National Trust were, but then we turned around and on the opposite wall there was an alcove, inside which there was a filthy shower, a wash basin, and a toilet the seat of which had been fastened down with gaffer tape. It says a lot that we left the building maybe ten or fifteen minutes after we entered. If we'd had to pay to get admission we'd have been furious. On a positive note, the castle provides a nice starting point for the enjoyable walk along the western shore of Windermere to Ferry House. It's better to go that way really as at least Wray Castle is getting further away from you rather than closer. Sorry to say it, but this is the worst National Trust property we've visited.
  • Not overawed by the castle arrived at 11 the tour was full next one at 3 o clock. Seems a long time between. Without being shown you are unable to get the gist of things. Cafe staff very helpful with girlfriend dairy allergy The walk from Wray castle to the boat was a joy though.
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