Just what do you do on a pouring wet Easter Saturday in the Lake District? We thought we’d be clever and arranged to meet some friends at Wray Castle, a National Trust property on the less-frequented western shore of Windermere. It’s indoors, it has a café, shop and plenty of rooms, both stately and otherwise, to explore; and it’s hidden away down a maze of country lanes somewhere between Hawkshead and Ambleside.
That was the plan. Trouble was, half the rest of Cumbria seemed to have had the same idea, and the NT themselves hadn’t helped (us, at any rate) by putting out nice bright yellow signs on all the approach roads pointing the way to the castle. The result was total chaos, with a queue to get in, marshals desperately trying to direct traffic round the one-way system, and no spaces in the car park.
Given the choice between waiting, waiting and waiting some more in the vain hope that someone would want to leave, or turning round and heading somewhere else, we chose to turn round. A quick text to our friends and we re-convened a few miles down the road in Hawkshead, where there were still a surprising number of spaces in the vast car park. We mooched round the village under brollies, had a super lunch in the café at Poppi Red, and bought a few goodies in the Hawkshead Relish shop, always a favourite. We then discovered a brand new shop (apparently less than two weeks old) selling hand-blown glassware by James Stewardson, which was absolutely stunning. We treated ourselves to a small glittery sphere/marble, made of dichroic glass and really pretty, especially in bright light, and may well be back to have another look.
We finished off with a touristy trip round the Lakes Aquarium at Lakeside, where we got the last two spaces in the car park and joined the hordes pulling faces at the fish.
It ended up as a great day out and we really enjoyed it – but we’re making a mental note not to go to Wray Castle on bank holidays!