After renting a car at Gatwick we set off for the Lake District. The closer we got to our destination, the heavier the trafic became going in the opposite direction. We were looking for a place called Ravenglass and I didn’t find it on our rather bad map until a day later. I hadn’t realized that Ravenglass was on the coast. It turned out that at one time it was the second largest sea port in England.In fact, it turned out that we were going in the wrong direction and a lady told us to go in the other direction for about 5 miles. She was right about the direction but wrong about the miles which turned out to be about 20.
It was what they call a bank holiday and we didn’t see a sign for the Muncaster Castle until we were right there. We stopped at a place called Muncaster Guest House right across the road from the castle but it was the wrong place. We were directed to a turn off and it turned out we were right behnd the castle in what used to be the Coachman’s rooms. It was right inside an ancient courtyard of what used to be the working portion of the castle. From the window in our room we could see the cages of owls as Muncaster is a World wide Owl preserve. That night as we walked around, one or two would fly over close to us for a look at us.
So, why Muncaster Castle? Years ago I had read that there was a Pennington Castle in England. Pennington is my maiden name and it just seemed intriguing to me that I might have come from people in that region. I do know that my relatives came to West Virginia from England but I’m not sure of the region. An Aunt, a few years ago, told us that she visited this castle, which turned out to be the Muncaster, and that it was wonderful. I did a little research and found out where it was and the fact that Pennington’s have lived there for over 800 years. In fact, men marrying into the family add Pennington with a hypen to their last names as male heirs were thin on the ground for a long time. The present Lord is actually Scottish.
The grounds of the castle are lovely with walking paths all over the place and the castle was grand and beautiful made of a reddish stone. At night the clock on the front of it chimed and we could see lights in windows as it was still lived in by Penningtons. As it got dark we circled the castle looking at the valley that stretched out below us and the mountains rising in the distance and, to our great delight, a full moon rose from behind them in apricot splendor. We had a good dinner at a nearby pub called The Ratty Arms, an old converted train station. I enjoyed my baked potato with shrimp and a pink sauce on top, called Marie Rose and, in fact, ate it again the next night. We considered an expensive gourmet dinner the next night at the Pennington Hotel in Ravenglass but weren’t hungry enough in the end.
I got up very early the next morning and went walking around the grounds taking photos and seeing the sunrise. We had a huge English breakfast in the converted stables called Creeping Kate, the name of a horse that, despite the name, won a few races. They also served lunches there.
Finally, at noon, we took a tour of the interior of the castle. No photos were allowed inside, darn it. We had an audio guide and it was done by members of the family and it was fun to hear them describe the rooms and objects as we walked around. There was a stunning large hall as you entered, a huge dining room and bedrooms upstairs. There was even a haunted room. We could have booked a night in the haunted room but it sounded too creepy to me and the cost overcame any second thoughts. But I did feel chills on the back of my neck as we stood in that room, something I don’t think I’ve ever experienced before. That was it, really, in spite of the fact that Muncaster Castle is called the most haunted castle in England. I never had bad dreams or any feelings of the hauntings-which is ok with me. I was asked to sign a special book because I am a Pennington but didn’t get any invitations to tea in the castle. I rather think that there must be alot of us Penningtons coming to visit.
Ater the tour we decided to explore the Lake District a little and drove to Windermer on the coast of a large lake and which is very touristy, like any sort of beach town, and just loved the scenery as we drove along. It is a truly beautiful area. The roads were very narrow at times but we arrived back at the castle unscathed.