Wray Castle is a huge lump of a castle which squats on a hilltop overlooking Windermere and manages to look both Arthurian and menacing. Although roughly Medieval in form it was built in the mid 19th century by wealthy Liverpool surgeon Dr James Lawson as a “retirement home” for him and his wife, although the story goes that she took one look at the vast stone walls and draughty rooms and refused to set foot in the place!
Although I can’t entirely blame her it’s still a fascinating place to potter round now that it’s owned by the National Trust. Unlike many of their properties they haven’t tarted it up, but have left it mostly unfurnished to make the most of the odd, brooding atmosphere of so much stone. We hadn’t been for a while, so took a Friday afternoon off a few weeks ago and headed to Windermere’s western shores for a visit. Sadly, it wasn’t one of our better decisions. Turns out the whole of the castle was shut for staff training, although there was no mention of this either on the website or at the castle gate – just a scrawl on a chalkboard outside the heavily barred main door. The shop is inside, so this was also inaccessible, while the café looked as though it wished it could close as well, and the outside toilets were horrible.
Mercifully it was a sunny afternoon, and even more mercifully the castle grounds spill down the fellside to the shores of Windermere itself, so we were able to have a lovely walk through the woods and along the water’s edge, snapping photos of the stunning scenery across the lake.
After a cuppa and a depressing tea-cake in a cloud of wasps we got back in the car and came home, without setting foot inside the castle itself. A shame, and we’re hoping for better things next time we go.