A holiday in England wouldn’t be complete without visiting a haunted and historic castle. Cue Muncaster Castle and Gardens, a lavish 800-year-old property that is still lived in by members of the Pennington family, owners of the estate since the Middle Ages. Located in the idyllic Western Lake District and overlooking the Esk River, the castle was constructed in 1208 — it could, however, be much older than that; it is suspected that the castle was built over foundations dating back to the Roman era.
Because of its key location along the Scottish–English border, Muncaster Castle features a fine example of a 14th-century peel tower, which was endemic to the area and intended as a watch tower where signal fires could be lit by the garrison to warn of approaching danger. Once described as “a gateway to paradise” by John Ruskin, the castle’s Terrace Walk features verdant flora and a meadow maze.
One of the main particularities of the castle, outside its exceptional architectural heritage, is the presence of a ghost who goes by the name of Tom Fool, court jester. Rarely seen but frequently sensed, his playful spirit has been playing tricks on Tapestry Room visitors for well over four centuries.
Muncaster Castle is open from March 30 to September 3 from noon to 4:30pm six days a week (closed on Saturdays for private functions). Tickets to the castle, gardens, owl center and maze cost £13 per adult, £7.50 per child and are free for children under 5. On-site parking is free for those who come by car from Liverpool or Manchester. The journey takes 2.5 hours via the M6 and the A5092. On-site accommodation is also possible at the Coachman’s Quarters B&B, with rates starting at £60 per night.