Wray Castle, Ambleside
Just back from a weekend stay at White Cross Bay Park Resort, Windermere. We went with our two oldest grandchildren (cousins), both not quite 5yrs old.
White Cross Bay is ideally placed between Windermere and Ambleside and less than 5 minutes by car to Brockhole, where you can catch a boat to the other side of the water to visit Wray Castle. When we decided it was time to go and get the boat we went to the jetty and tried to work out the times of the boats but it was rather complicated! However the very kind man in the ticket office explained that we had to go to Ambleside first, get off the boat for 20 mins, re-board, and then set off for Wray Castle. That seemed such a fuss but it worked out really well as we cruised the Lake and our Mini-Travellers enjoyed that too. The trip back was much shorter as it was straight across to Brockhole.
So, on to Wray Castle. We are members of the National Trust so it was going to be free for us to go in and under 5s go free, so we thought if it didn’t work out, we could just have our picnic and go back to the lodge. We needn’t have worried as everything was designed with children in mind.
The National Trust says:
Wray Castle came to us without its contents so you will not see a ‘typical’ National Trust house full of paintings, furniture and antiques with an accompanying owner-family history through the ages. What you will see is a ‘tired’ but fascinating building with hints of its ‘grand’ past and plenty of signs of its varied history. Make sure you join one of our free tours to get its full life story.
If you’ve children to entertain you’ll be pleased to know the rooms may be empty of grand possessions but full of kids having fun in our dressing up and castle-building spaces, perfect for a wet day in the Lakes! There’s plenty to do outdoors too, like rope swing, den-building and trails, in our family-friendly gardens and grounds.
Please note our car park is small and often full by 11am. Avoid disappointment by arriving by boat or bus. There are regular boats direct from Ambleside or a bus service running from Ferry Nab via Hill Top and Hawkshead.
This was exactly as described and the children spent a long time Castle Building using large vinyl covered foam ‘bricks’ in all shapes and sizes. We then looked at some of the other rooms downstairs including a room with the full wall painted with matt black paint and everyone was encouraged to draw in chalk what they’d liked best about the castle. Then upstairs to the Dressing up Rooms where children and adults alike could dress up as Kings, Queens, Knights, and Princesses then act out being a Royal in a castle, or having a knight’s battle with swords, shields and armour. We then moved on to the arts and crafts room for colouring, glueing and sticking and making your own crown (we should have done this before the dressing up!) More rooms; one with small wooden bricks to build a castle, another with TV screens showing views from cameras on the turrets, moveable using joysticks. We couldn’t chivvy them along, so we missed the first return boat so decided to go to The Peter Rabbit rooms. One of our Mini-Travellers was not happy about going in (he was scared of The Peter Rabbit programme) but they both enjoyed it. It was brilliant! PR’s burrow, his kitchen, bedroom, Mr McGregor’s garden, The Lift (very important apparently) and more dressing up. 30 mins later we encouraged them to go and find the Adventure Playground/Trail.
The Woodland Nature Play Trail was great. Plenty of climbing, balancing, swinging, dens made out of sticks and branches. Most of the play area was made out of trees, logs and stumps with some huge pipes thrown in and they have made good use of the natural banks. Our nearly 5year olds really enjoyed it, as did some much older children who could obviously be more adventurous! I think pictures explain it better. It was in fact a really busy but great day out.
We thoroughly recommend it for families and, even if you are not NT members, you can get 10% off admission prices on production of a valid boat or bus ticket and the voucher that you can pick up the boat jetty attached to the boat timetable.