Explore castles in the Lake District

Days out

There’s so much natural beauty throughout the Lake District National Park that it can be easy to forget about the magnificent historical sites scattered all over the region.

Take a look at the map at bottom of this post to begin planning your trip!

All across the landscape, grand Lake District castles and fortifications rise up in testament to the people who’ve lived in and defended the Lake District. Visit the impressive buildings to take in exquisite architecture, explore beautiful gardens and join the fun events that take place over the course of the year.

Bursting with exciting family-friendly things to do, tranquil estates for scenic strolls and epic ruins to discover, you’ll have a wonderful time at any one of these castles in the Lake District.

Ensure you don’t miss out on a trip to one of these exquisite historical masterpieces by staying in a holiday cottage near a magnificent Lake District castle.

Escape to the Lakes

1.     Wray Castle

Wray Castle

Arrive by car or by ferry to the first impressive castle on our list. Admittedly, Wray Castle is not a true historic castle but rather a family home built in 1840 by a Dr James Dawson using his wife’s inheritance from a gin fortune.

It was gifted to the National Trust in 1929 and it’s now open to the public and has Peter Rabbit adventure rooms that children will love.

Head out into the beautiful gardens and grounds for more exploration (including a mulberry tree planted by William Wordsworth in 1845) before popping into the tea room for a slice of cake.

Stay in a holiday cottage near Wray Castle in Ambleside…

Retreat to Ambleside


2.     Muncaster Castle

Muncaster Castle

A beautiful yet imposing castle near the Lake District coastline that’s home to a hawk and owl centre to make your day out extra special! Get up close to owls, hawks and even vultures, book in for a Raptor Encounter or catch a flying demonstration.

Besides the wonderful bird displays, there’s the exquisite (haunted) castle to explore, the beautiful gardens where rhododendrons and bluebells can be found at various times of year and a café for when you’re ready for a coffee break.

Retreat to a coastal cottage in nearby Ravenglass…

Hide out in Ravenglass

3.     Kendal Castle

Kendal Castle

Uncover the ruins of a 13th-century castle in the heart of Kendal, just 10 miles from Windermere.

Castle Howe appeared first back in the 11th century, but when the site proved too cramped, Kendal Castle was built. For a long time, it was the home of the Parr family - the most famous of whom was Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s sixth and final wife.

Now, it’s a scenic site and green space welcoming visitors freely. Set atop a hill with views of the town and river, this castle is a wonderful place for a morning dog walk or an afternoon picnic.

Visit the town of Kendal and go for a stroll around this ancient castle…

Cottages in Kendal

4.     Sizergh Castle

Sizergh Castle

This grand stately home is just 4 miles away from Kendal yet a world away from Kendal Castle. Expansive gardens and exquisite interiors make this beautifully cared for castle a great place to visit.

The Strickland family still live here with the main house often only open for special events, however you are welcome to visit and explore the gardens, café, park and shop.

Stay in nearby Cartmel Fell, a tranquil location for a Lake District holiday…

Escape to Cartmel Fell

5.     Penrith Castle

Penrith Castle

Explore another ruined structure with the wonderful 14th-century Penrith Castle. There is a cafe, parkland and even a museum nearby for you to visit, not to mention many other historical landmarks including King Arthur's Round Table, Mayburgh Henge, Brocavum Roman fort, and a second castle, Brougham, that you will discover next on this list.

Originally built by Richard Neville, who was heavily involved with the defence of the Scottish border, it was later passed into the hands of Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who later became King Richard III.

Explore the grounds of the ancient stronghold with a stay nearby…

Holiday in Penrith

6.     Brougham Castle

Brougham Castle

Just down the road from Penrith Castle is the mighty Brougham. This place is also now in ruins but was once a formidable barrier against Scots invaders and the original great keep is largely intact amid other buildings that were later added to the fortress.

It was built on the ruins of the old Roman fort of Verteris, a useful location as the foundations were already in place for a stronghold; and was home to the Clifford family for 450 years. During the 15th century, this ancient castle was carefully restored by Lady Anne Clifford.

Enjoy a gentle walk around the grounds, taking in the impressive structure with your family and dog by your side before grabbing a hot drink at the on-site shop.

Plan a holiday to nearby Pooley Bridge, set to the north of beautiful Ullswater…

Stay in Pooley Bridge

7.     Piel Castle

Piel Castle

Far out on an island set just off the coast of the Lake District, you’ll discover this impressive castle ruin.

Hop on the ferry to get across to this quaint island or, if you’re sporty, who not hire a kayak and paddle across? Besides the castle, there’s the Ship Inn pub where you can stop for a hearty meal after a walk around the beautiful island.

Barrow-in-Furness offers a lovely selection of holiday cottages for your next UK break…

Retreat to Barrow-in-Furness

8.     Lowther Castle and Gardens

Lowther Castle and Gardens

Quite possibly one of the most magnificent castle ruins in the Lake District, if not the UK, Lowther Castle and Gardens is relatively new compared to many on this list, having been originally commissioned in 1806.

The site itself, which has seen many buildings come and go over the years, has been owned by the same family since 1150.

In 1957, James Lonsdale, the 7th Earl, removed the castle roof and turned this expensive site into a garden that could be enjoyed by the public with beautiful plants, an exhibition, children’s playground and café.

Pick out a holiday cottage near Ullswater, just 12 miles from Lowther Castle…

Ullswater cottages

Go and investigate these magnificent Lake District castles, hear about their long, complex histories and take in beautiful local scenery and far-reaching views.

Map of castles in the Lake District

Plan ahead and during your holiday to the Lake District you could head to one of the exciting events that take place at these historic sites, perfect for families or adult groups to make the most of their time in the Lake District.

Take a look through our beautiful holiday cottages in the Lake District and find your own ‘castle’ where you and the family can retreat on an exciting break to this renowned national park. 

Start exploring…


Posted by Kate W on 29th November 2019