This historic castle promises dramatic views and one of the largest collections of owls in the world.
Located between the Irish Sea and Hardknott Pass, Muncaster Castle, winner of the Best Visitor Attraction in the Cumbria for Excellence Awards 2002, offers the visitor much to see and do. The Castle, which is said to be haunted by the legendary Tom Fool, has a rich history. It also now contains the headquarters of the World Owl Trust and the meadow-vole maze. Its original purpose, however, was to guard against invading Scotsmen and it has remained in the possession of the Pennington family throughout its 800 year existence. In 1464 Henry VI sheltered in the Castle after the shepherds of Sir John Pennington found him wandering in the area after the Battle of Hexham. Upon his departure the King left behind a drinking bowl which he said would ensure that the Penningtons thrived so long as it remained complete and unbroken. The bowl remains in that state and is known as the ‘luck of Muncaster’. In 1783, John, Lord Muncaster built a tower known as the Chapels to mark the point at which the King was said to have been found. This tower now nestles amongst the wooded hillside that gives Muncaster a unique charm.
The gardens of the Castle also add immensely to the splendour of the greenery to be found in the area. Here many rare plants flourish in the Himalayan gardens and one of the largest collections of owls in the world may be found. Giant eagle owls, curious fish owls and tiny pygmy owls join buzzards, kestrels and red kites in flying displays which take place during the season at 2:30pm. Wild herons can also be seen feeding at 4:30pm. Meanwhile, you could help Max Meadow-vole find his way home through the meadow-vole maze. This could win you a prize and will also give you a unique insight into the life of a meadow-vole as everything is constructed so as to make you feel two and a half inches tall. Muncaster Castle, with its history and this maze, offers the visitor a unique opportunity to journey through both space and time in the shadow of England’s tallest peak, Scafell Pike.