This is a National Trust owned Gothic Revival castle. Theatrical architecture on the picturesque shore of Lake Windermere, there are towers and turrets galore, and wonderful grounds to be explored.
There is a woodland playground to let the kids blow off some steam, and the original kitchen courtyard has been brought back to life with a cafe run by local foodies, where you can find coffee, ice cream and meals too, no need to even enter the castle if refreshments are what you are after.
Well worth a visit, you can find out about it's history, as it went from purpose built family home, to an institution and now a public place for all to enjoy. Inside there is a fancy dress room, a picnic room, a castle building room, a games room, as well as more historical and educational rooms.
It was also the site of Beatrix Potters first stay in the Lake District and this is where she fell in love with the Cumbrian countryside, prompting her to move to Hilltop, not far away, a few years later. It is best accessed by bike, either from Ambleside along quiet lanes and cycle tracks, or from Bowness via ferry and along the lakeshore cycle track.
The Beatrix Potter Trail
Along the Beatrix Potter Trail you will find Wray Castle, the site of Beatrix Potters first Lake District holiday and where she fell in love with the Cumbrian countryside. Then it's off to Hawkshead, a picturesque small village where you can visit the Beatrix Potter Gallery. You then ride out past Esthwaite Water to Beatrix Potters Hilltop, where she spent many years writing and illustrating her books. There are places to play and cafes along the way, it is a trip for the young or the old, and all those in between, with terrain that makes it suitable for families and all abilities too.
We have a self guided route planned for you that will take you on a tour of these three sites. All are on the quiet and scenic tracks and roads west of Lake Windermere, accessible from Ambleside or Bowness, and can easily be ridden in a day, incl stopping to enjoy the sites and the scenery. Just get started early so you can fit it all in!
For more info on Beatrix Potter and her history in the Lake District click HERE.
Grasmere is a beautiful village set north of Lake Windermere. To reach it you use Cycle Route 6 along quiet lanes and then a purpose built cycle track, passing Rydal Water on the lakeshore trail, before descending through pretty woodlands, crossing rivers and then emerging alongside Grasmere Water before continuing along to the village of Grasmere.
It's a beautiful place to stop, walk and get lunch or refreshments in. Whilst you are here you would do well to try the legendary Grasmere Gingerbread, so follow your nose and track down the Grasmere Gingerbread shop. Make sure you buy enough to stop along the lakeshore on the way back, then sit, munch and watch the world go by...
This is another National Trust owned site, and is directly across the lake from our Bowness boathouse, easily reached by bike almost as soon as you are off the ferry. It marks the starting point of the western shore cycle trail, and is a great place to visit on the return from Wray Castle, for refreshments in their foodie friendly cafe, and a climb to the viewing station if you have time.
For more info on Claife Heights click HERE.
Not a cycling destination, as the route is on a footpath, but still worthy of being on your list of things to do. It is directly opposite our Windermere shop front, so can be done before we open if you are eager, then stop in for a bike hire, or after a day in the saddle it'd be worth a climb to sit and rest at the top.
It's a 2.5 mile route in total, which takes about 35 minutes to ascend, with spectacular views to be had at the top across Lake Windermere and the surrounding fells.
For more info on the Orrest Head walking trail click HERE.