After trying and failing to get in on Easter Saturday, yesterday we had another go, and this time got parked nice and early and were scratching at the main castle door just as it opened.
The morning was damp and drizzly so it was the ideal place to stomp round and explore – and there seems to be more to explore every time we go. The National Trust are restoring/renovating slowly but surely; this time they’d painted the library, re-hung the vast hanging lantern over the hall, and opened up a whole new section on an upper floor. This required a good head for heights since the staircase up to it was quite precipitous, but there were some nice views out of the windows and a sudden glimpse of a stained glass roof-light that would be completely hidden from anywhere else.
The castle is full of nooks, crannies and quirks like that and is thoroughly fascinating to go round. We love the story that James Dawson, the Liverpool surgeon who built it, couldn’t actually live in it full-time until after his wife died because she disliked the place so much! I have to admit that as a cosy, practical home it would probably be terrible – it’s so big it must be almost impossible to heat, and the flat ‘castle-y’ roofs let in the rain. But as a stately pile it takes some beating.
By late morning the rain had stopped and the sun was starting to break through the cloud, so we had a brief walk down the edge of the lake, to a new jetty they’ve just built to allow the lake cruisers to moor up. It’s a good idea, because it means foot passengers can access the castle direct from Ambleside, without having to navigate the narrow, twisty and busy network of lanes – or that too-small car park. Next time we might very well do the same.