A Castle for Kids

After such a satisfying visit to Sizergh Castle, we decided to try our luck on another castle. Located on the largest lake in England and built in 1840, Wray Castle is a family destination.


The National Trust encourages visits by boat or bike as they have limited parking available. We elected to take the ferry, which does a 50-minute loop of the northern part of Bowness for £8.25. The stop for Wray is only 15 minutes away from the pier at Ambleside (northeast end of Bowness Lake).

A surgeon from Liverpool, James Dawson had the castle built using funds from his wife’s fortune (Editor’s note: there is a reason this is such a popular theme in fiction—wive’s fortunes are responsible for a good deal of what’s been erected in this country.) Neo-Gothic in styling, this Victorian castle has 54 rooms—and was built for two. As in any building this tall, be sure to look up!

Over the years, the furnishings and fixtures have been sold off or removed to the point that when the National Trust ended up with it, there weren’t any contents left. It’s housed non-profits and the merchant navy, been left empty, and now has found its niche as a kid’s castle. We learned why after a short introductory talk—most of the rooms have been painted or furnished with children’s activities in mind. There’s a room where they can play dress up, a room to have a Beatrix Potter birthday party, a room with tents for camping, another room for drawing. Even the tearoom looks like it was designed for children.

There are a couple of rooms furnished with contemporary couches and chairs, their walls painted with accent colors—but it all feels a bit wrong for a building that should be housing a collection of neo-Gothic furniture.

Outside is far more satisfying, with sweeping views and some rock walls. There’s not much in the way of florals, but they can be found.

We took the next ferry back to Ambleside to find a pub.

We have a week to go on our visit to the UK. With two more nights in Cumbria, we’ll be spending some time in the Lake District National Park. Ta-ta for now!

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