What to do this winter at Wray Castle
The castle’s portcullis has shut for the final time in 2018; it’ll reopen on 16 February 2019. Meanwhile, the grounds and café are still open over the winter months. Head out for a walk along the lakeshore, explore the play trail and finish off with a light bite in the Kitchen Court Café.
A crisp winter’s day walk
Walk around the grounds of Wray Castle through woodland, along the lakeshore, and through the arboretum with its specimen trees. With the leaves now missing from the trees, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views across the lake. To the north, you’ll see the Fairfield horseshoe and the Langdales dusted with snow. To the south, you’ll be looking out over the wide expanse of Windermere. The path down to the lakeshore to the south is suitable for off-road wheels; however the path through Watbarrow woods is less accessible due to steep inclines and tree roots. Little ones can still burn off energy in our outdoor play trail (bring wellies!)
If you fancy a longer walk, park up at Wray Castle to start one of these adventures:
Walk to Claife Viewing Station along Windermere’s west shore featuring great views of the islands and woodland archaeology. It’s a moderate walk and is 4 miles one way (8 miles to return to Wray Castle).
The Wray Castle to Blelham Tarn circular walk returns via Windermere’s shoreline. It boasts striking views across this tarn which is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (approx 3.5 miles).
The grounds and play trail are open from 8am till 6pm. The car park is free for National Trust members, please scan your membership card to display your free ticket (click here for non-members car park charges)
The Kitchen Court Café
If the chilly weather has left your nose running, your fingertips numb and your feet muddy, head over to the Kitchen Court Café to warm up and dry off. The café is open from 10am till 4pm every day*, and serves hot food such as soup and casseroles, along with cakes, sandwiches, hot and cold drinks. Christmas specials include ginger flavoured lattes, mince pies and gingerbread. 4-legged friends are welcome here too – please just be mindful to steer clear of where the food is served. You’ll find the café near the outdoor toilets (including an accessible toilet and baby changing facilities), at the south west of the castle.
(*Please note the café is closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, also 7-18 January for refurbishment.)
Family fun in the outdoors
Wray Castle’s play trail will be open throughout the winter. Test your balancing skills on the slack line, climb up the rope on the scramble board, and be king or queen of the tree-castle in the woods.
Elsewhere in the grounds, there are ample activities for our 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ challenge. Collect your task booklet from the café and get ticking these activities off your list:
- The winter weather will be cold and wet so splash in the puddles (no.6), or maybe even play in the snow (no.15).
- After plenty of gusty autumnal weather, there are plenty of sticks on the ground to make a trail with (no.12). Now the trees have lost their leaves it’s much easier to spot our feathered friends so make sure to do some bird watching (no.44).
- Download the free geocaching app and locate the hidden geocaches around Wray Castle (no.49). They’re spread around the grounds, often close to the paths, but there may be a bit of scrambling. Once you’ve found the cache, log it as found on the app, write your name and date in the log book or swap something in the cache with something you’ve brought along with you. Please remember to close the cache correctly, and to hide it back where you found it, so other people can enjoy finding it too.
- As the sun sets late afternoon, cold winter nights generally mean clear night skies, so look up and stargaze (no.27). You’ll need to wrap up warm! But you’re almost certain to spot Orion with his bow and arrow in the winter sky.
The fun doesn’t have to stop when you get home; why not make a home for a wild animal in your back garden (no.36)?
There is a campsite and two holiday cottages close to Wray Castle. Why not wrap up in a cosy cottage nearby, or stay warm beneath the stars in a safari tent complete with log burner?
- Low Wray Campsite will be open at the weekends until 2 January 2019 and has hard standing pitches for caravans and motorhomes plus pods and safari tents. Bike hire is available from reception.
- The Summer House sleeps 4 and offers stunning views over much of the Lake District including Fairfield, the Langdale Pikes and the central fells.
- Trees is a log cabin with a real fire. It sleeps 4 and gives a real sense of being close to nature, especially as the dining room folding doors open out onto a terrace that wraps around two sides of the cottage. It’s not unusual to see deer and other wildlife in the surrounding woods.
Business as usual
Even though the castle itself may be closed, inside its bustling with busy staff getting ready for reopening next year. You may see David, the gardener, working out in the grounds with the garden volunteers planting bulbs, clearing the paths or working in the south rockery. The team responsible for the school holiday activities will be working on February half term’s ‘Great Wray Castle Drawing Challenge’, and the ‘That’s Not My Nest!’ Easter egg trail, new for 2019. Carla, our conservation assistant, will be giving the castle some TLC after a busy year, polishing the original wooden floors in the ground floor rooms and working on our Missing Bits project for next year.