Wray Castle and Hawkshead

Tuesdays, one of the most forgettable days of the week. Monday you have the typical Monday blues as you start your working week, Wednesday is your hump day and come Thursday/Friday you are now starting to count down the days (and in most cases hours, minutes and even seconds) to the weekend. So, to change this perception, we made this Tuesday an unforgettable day. To begin with, I am typing this, whilst sat in a pub with a glass of wine, so that is a winner in itself!

Today has been a beautiful crisp day, the skies are cloudless, the sun is shining and for January, it is relatively mild. We have decided that during the winter ‘off peak’ months, we would take advantage of the South Lakes, whilst the crowds are away. With that in mind, today we jumped in to the car and 1 hour 20 minutes later, we arrived to Wray Castle, owed by the National Trust, it is situated on Lake Windermere, and a mere 10 minutes drive from Hawkshead.

Wray Castle, was built in 1840 for a retired surgeon, James Dawson and over the years it was passed down through his family until it was eventually handed to the National Trust in a bid to protect it and the countryside from any damaging development. The local area is also well known for where Beatrix Potter spent her time, with Hill Top Farm being less than 5 miles away (another iconic place you can add on to a day trip such as this one). Wray Castle is no exception as it is understood that Beatrix Potter holidayed here in 1882 and when you see both the house and grounds, you can see why! Wray Castle was provided to the National Trust unfurnished and still stands as so, but it gives this property a fantastic opportunity to be child friendly!

Today, Wray Castle was closed, still in its winter hibernation, however the grounds were open to amble around, which was idyllic for us; it was too much of a stunning day to be indoors. We headed down to the lakeside, and were welcomed with spectacular views. It was one of those magical moments where you really can’t describe the scene in front of us. It was such a tranquil place, not a soul in sight and the only sounds you could hear were the birds chirping, water lapping and your own breath. Perfect. What a place to just soak in the views and relax.

After Liam climbed a tree (boys will be boys, no matter their age!) and some failed attempts at skimming stones (blaming the lack of good skimming stones, not our technique, obviously!), we continued our route into the woods, to a little peninsula. Walking through this stretch of woodland at Wray Castle, you can’t help but imagine that you are part of the adventures that you would read in books like ‘Swallows and Amazons’. Imagine all the games and adventures that you could have here, the creative imagination certainly wouldn’t be at a loss. Shortly after, our walk came to the end, and so we took a drive over to Hawkshead.

Hawkshead is an ancient town, where you can trace its heritage back to the Norse times and belonged to Furness Abbey, one of the richest Cistercian monasteries in England, until the 12thCentury. The village relies heavily on tourism, so you can be sure to find quaint inns (such as the one that I am happily sipping away my glass of wine), tea rooms and boutique gift shops to have a mooch around. As the village is relatively well preserved (with thanks to the National Trust), cars are banned from the village, but there is a large car park on the outskirts of the village.

It truly has been a great day, and is just a sample of many that are on the door step of Midland Barn, however sadly all good things have to come to an end, and it is now time for us to head home. We will still have one last adventure of the day, as we will take the Windermere Ferry from Sawrey to Bowness and then drive back home. For those planning a trip to this area, the ferry also takes foot passengers. For more details of this service and its associated costs, click here.

We hope that you get to enjoy days like this when visiting Midland Barn!

Lucy and Liam


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