Castles in the Lake District

Castles in the Lake District

A landscape painted with silvery lakes and mist-covered fells, the Lake District National Park has a spellbinding air. Home to awe-inspiring scenery overlooked by ancient castles and forts, it imbues a sense of wild romanticism and whispers of ancient tales and bygone centuries.

Should you be seeking an ethereal Lakeland escape, weave trips to enchanting historical sites into your adventure. Perfectly paired with beautiful walks and repasts in fellside pubs, there are a number of magical castles in the Lake District just waiting to be uncovered.

Kendal Castle

The ruins of Kendal Castle atop a glacial hill in Kendal in the Lake District

The early thirteenth-century Kendal Castle offers a window into a world of barons and monarchs, politics and royal affairs. Built atop a glacial hill, it was the seat of an extremely wealthy Kendalian family for hundreds of years, as well as the family home of Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s only surviving wife. One of the Lake District’s top attractions, it can be paired with a visit to Kendal Museum and can also be explored as part of the Kendal Castle Audio Trail to really bring its rich history to life. Though little remains of the original structure today, the fascinating ruins provide a fascinating glimpse into Kendal’s yesteryears and make for wonderful moments of discovery – especially delightful when enjoyed with a bar of the town’s famous Kendal Mint Cake.

Sizergh Castle

The picturesque floral gardens of Sizergh Castle in the Lake District

A gateway to the National Park, the Grade I listed Sizergh Castle near Kendal is one of the most famous castles in the Lake District. An unmissable place to visit, it encompasses a 1,600-acre estate at the centre of which is a stunning Medieval house. Home to the Strickland family for more than eight centuries, Sizergh Castle is managed by the National Trust and surrounded by rich, flower-filled gardens and manicured grounds that lend themselves perfectly to exploration throughout the year. Head inside the house to explore the labyrinth of rooms or follow the trails outside and wend through the estate’s wetlands, woodlands, and orchards. For a taste of something delicious, you can also enjoy a laidback pause in the estate’s dog-friendly café, savouring dishes crafted with seasonal produce from the castle’s kitchen gardens. 

Wray Castle

The exterior of Wray Castle, Cumbria | National Trust Images, Credit Hugh Mothersole

Taking pride of place on the shores of Windermere, Wray Castle and its sprawling gardens enjoy close proximity to some of the best restaurants and dog-friendly pubs in the Lake District. Built in the mid-nineteenth century, it takes inspiration from Medieval England and paints a fairytale picture beside the lake. Make the most of the idyllic setting to explore the area and try local watersports, before stepping back in time and finding wonder in Wray’s story. Looked after by the National Trust, this striking Gothic castle is contrasted with stylised ruins designed to exude a sense of romantic mysticism and is hugged by orchards, kitchen gardens and a budding arboretum. Visit the castle on select days throughout the year and look out for the ancient oaks in the grounds that pre-date even the castle itself.

Muncaster Castle

The stone walls and manicured pathways of Muncaster Castle in the Lake District

One of the most beautiful castles in the Lake District, the stone façade of Muncaster Castle near Ravenglass is framed by towering trees that cling to steep valley slopes above the River Esk. Originally built in the mid-thirteenth century, this eight-hundred-year-old castle is still a beloved family home and contains a wealth of intriguing history between its walls. Enjoy self-guided audio tours of the castle, narrated by members of the castle’s resident family, and enjoy a voyage through past and present between its luxurious state rooms and seasonal exhibitions. Promising further inspiration, the castle’s grounds extend for nearly eighty acres and feature landscaped gardens and a dedicated hawk and owl centre. Venture to Muncaster throughout the year and fall for the captivating spell of this historic Lakeland gem.

Castle Howe

Views of Little Langdale towards Castle Howe at the foot of Fell Foot in the Lake District

The mysterious Castle Howe in Little Langdale (not to be confused with Castle Howe near Kendal) is the perfect place to go if you’d like to let your imagination retrace the deep footsteps of time. Situated atop a volcanic mound in the heavenly Lake District countryside, this Neolithic hillfort has roots dating back thousands of years. Though nothing visible remains of the original Iron Age construction today, the ground showcases the footprint of an ancient fort and hut circles that would once have been home to ancient communities. Make way to this scheduled monument and park in one of the two nearby laybys on Wrynose Pass to stop for a spell, admiring the dramatic setting and letting your mind roam to days of prehistoric man. For further adventures, you can continue west from here towards Scafell Pike or east towards the lakeside town of Ambleside.

Lowther Castle

A distant view of Cumbria's Lowther Castle through the trees

A historic treasure of the north, Lowther Castle resides just outside of the Lake District National Park in the Cumbrian market town of Penrith. Originally built at the beginning of the nineteenth century on the site of two former homes, it enjoyed a short but sweet glory era before it was partially demolished in the mid-nineteenth century. A storybook silhouette with regal towers, turrets and sweeping archways, its imposing remains promise bewitching adventures. Uncover the castle and the Story of Lowther exhibition, before heading outside to explore its spectacular grounds. One of the best things to do in Penrith, the estate covers more than a hundred acres and encompasses stunning gardens, meadows and woodlands, as well as a giant adventure playground for children.

Brougham Castle

The exterior stone walls of Brougham Castle in Penrith

On the fringes of the Lake District National Park, the dog-friendly Brougham Castle enjoys a divine setting next to the River Eamont in Penrith. Looked after by English Heritage, its protected remains cut a striking frame against open skies and beckon for journeys through time. Take moments to admire the site, soaking in the peaceful ambience and exploring the network of weaving passageways and spiral staircases. At the foot of the castle, pillowy grass encourages picnics on balmy days, while at the top of the keep, commanding views over the Eden Valley inspire awe in all those who gaze upon them. Onsite, you can also find a shop which features an informative exhibition about the castle and nearby Roman fort of Brocavum and serves seasonal refreshments.

Penrith Castle

The striking remains of Penrith Castle under blue skies

First a defensive fortress and later a luxurious residence, Penrith Castle has undergone a wealth of transformations over the centuries. Built in the fourteenth century, it was originally constructed for the warden of the West March on the site of an ancient Roman fort and designed to protect the area from Scottish invasions. Today, its dramatic ruins are a leading attraction for history lovers and can be reached on foot from the centre of Penrith. Park in the town and head over on foot, ready to trace the towering walls of the castle and imagine what life would have looked like in the town six hundred years ago. When you’re ready to refuel, you can savour a delicious repast in one of Penrith’s leading restaurants and cosy cafés nearby.

Seeking a spellbinding journey through time? Take a look at our luxury cottages in the Lake District


Sign up to receive our boutique stories…

Stay connected with retreat magic and be the first to know about our new additions. We promise to only fill your inbox with the dreamiest staycation stories and luxury travel moments.