I travelled a few hundred yards up the road and came across the car park for "Castle Muncaster." It was free, just the way I like it. On the opposite side of the road was the stone gateway to the castle gardens - I perused the signage and could not see any obvious demands for me to part with any cash, so I wandered in. Once inside, especially on a sunny day, you are immediately rewarded with some stunning walks through beautifully managed gardens. Attractive, varied, and unusual flora, including a "Sino-Himalayan Walk," attract a range of birds. It was quite an unexpected treat, and so far as I could tell, free. Following the paths, you are eventually confronted with signs offering the choice of going to "the castle" or "the maze." I like castles and don't like mazes, so I followed the signs to the castle.
After about another 150m of this very pleasant walk, the trees opened out to reveal an area of activity with the castle at the far end. First, to the right was a tiny duck pond, and to the left was an owlery (a word I've invented to describe a place where owls are kept - feel free to pass this word off as your own if you feel it may impress someone you admire) - this was not free, so I just took a picture of the outside. A bit farther on, there was a small picnic area/kid’s playground - this was mercifully deserted - and after that, the castle. It was 6:30pm, so the castle was closed for the day, but you could still walk round it and take photos from all external angles and of the stunning views over the hills to the front and side. There were a couple of cannons out front pointing to the fields and hills to the east. I can't think what they might have been trained on. Maybe they were put there quite recently to allow the current tenants to relieve their boredom by taking pot-shots at sheep. There were also a dozen or so herons cavorting in the long grass just down the slope. I suspect that they nest in the trees next to the castle.
Beyond the castle were signs pointing to "the maze," which I did not go and explore on account of the time. I vaguely recalled seeing something at the gate saying that it shut at 7:30pm each night, and I didn't want to get trapped inside overnight. It was probably haunted and would make me late for work.
Anyway, to summarise - what an unexpected free treat!!! The photos will give you some idea of how beautiful it all is on a nice day, and there's also the official website to give you all the history and things I missed here.
Results 1-2of 2 Reviews
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
November 4, 2011
From journal Severe and at the same time romantic
Durham, United Kingdom
July 31, 2005
From journal This is England