Picture of Spike at Lowther Castle with caption Fun at Lowther Castle - Days out in the Cumbrian Countryside
Days out,  Family,  Reviews,  Toddler,  Travel

Days out in the North West – fun at Lowther Castle

I first came across Lowther Castle on Facebook. I stumbled upon it, I’m not sure how. The reason it caught my eye was the epic play area, but more on that later. As soon as I heard about it, I wanted to visit. So where better to spend my 30th birthday?

Deciding to visit

Lowther Castle is a good hour and a half from our house. So I knew we’d need to clear a day out completely for our visit. I knew it was probably a bit too much for a weekend jaunt out. It was more of a special occasion type trip, which is why I thought I’d save it for a birthday or other occasion. My friend visited a couple of months ago, after I’d heard about it, and as soon as I saw her photos I knew I wanted to visit sooner rather than later!

Convincing the Mr to visit

What took longer was convincing T to visit with me. “A Castle? Why? Its just a castle isn’t it, you can see them closer to home. What is there there?” He didn’t understand when I said some grounds and a cool play area. A play area isn’t usually an argument for a 30th birthday day out… but it is when you visit with a 3 year old. It also is when you actually experience the Lost Castle play area for yourself!

Planning our visit

Having looked on the Lowther Castle website I knew that the majority of the stuff to do is outside. Therefore I wanted to make sure we visited on a good day. We’ve been having loads of good weather so I assumed that my birthday would be fine, but held off on booking tickets just in case. The weather kept changing its mind and things weren’t looking good, until the night before! Thankfully Lowther Castles 10% online discount can be utilised any time up until the day before, so at 8pm last Monday, I was there purchasing tickets.

Driving to the castle

As I said, the journey up to Lowther Castle is an hour and a half for us. With schools off at the moment we knew that the traffic wouldn’t be that bad during rush hour. It is also our usual commute traffic so we knew we could set off earlier than we usually would for a day out. Lowther Castle opens its doors at 10am so we aimed for a 9 o clock set off to make the most of the day. Unfortunately we didn’t get out for 9 and it was more like 20 to 10 when we left!

On arrival

We found our way to the castle fairly easy. Unfortunately we went around the time of Lowther Show and followed those signs instead of the castle ones. But we got there eventually and parked in the main car park. Considering we’d arrived on what was expected to be an ok weather-wise day in the middle of the summer holidays this was a pleasant surprise! There were obviously people there, around 4 other families were walking towards the castle when we were, but it didn’t feel busy – something which was true throughout the whole day, not just in the car park.

First impressions of Lowther Castle

An imposing, beautiful building overlooking the beautiful Lake District hills. There are no words to describe the feeling when you see the castle for the first time. It’s just amazing! We walked through the courtyard, which you can get into without paying admission, T got a coffee from the cafe and Spike went to the loo. There was a nice little seating area outside the cafe, some cool trees to run round and a fire pit surrounded by an iron ball sculpture that would look amazing lit up.

Ticket desk, entrance and the exhibition

You walk over to the courtyard gate and enter the castle through a side passage which I don’t think is part of the main structure of the castle. Here we were met with a smile and a lady who checked our online tickets. Then she stamped our hands with what became known as ‘dragon tattoos’. Lowther Castle Estate’s emblem is a dragon and they were spotted throughout the grounds and visitor material, which Spike loved! From the ticket desk you go into an exhibition area which looked cool, but we actually didn’t go round, opting instead to head straight outside in the to gardens and castle ruins.

Castle ruins

The castle is in ruins, and has been since the 1950s when the 7th Earl of Lonsdale removed the roof and every part of the castle that could be removed and sold it. Its just an empty shell for the most part. That shell forms the walls of an amazing garden project though! And the castle grounds are being restored as an ongoing project. The exhibition inside building tells you a bit more about this so I am sad I didn’t look around that area more!

Lowther Castle Grounds

We knew Spike wouldn’t stay still for the exhibition. She’s too full of energy and loves to run round and explore! So after a wander around the ruins, which met her approval, we went out into the grounds where we remained for the whole day. First stop was a picnic on lawns. Form there were headed to the tree swings and me and T became children again!

Into the woods

From the tree swings we ventured into the woods to find the willow den… which unfortunately we didn’t find! But we did find the star of Shap Abbey Steps which were gorgeous. The steep hill ahead of us stopped us from going all the way up to the top of the steps! Maybe next time! We then found Jack Croft’s Pond and Summerhouse, which was incredible and had a look at Peg Hook Well.

The Lost Castle

The grounds are so expansive that it took a good hour or so for us to find our way to The Lost Castle. This was obviously where all the people were as its the only area that felt busy. However even with how busy is was, the sheer size and clever layout meant it didn’t feel cramped. The Lost Castle is a echo of Lowther Castle, in the tree canopy. Its designed for families to play together. Everything was big enough for us to play on too, but little enough for Spike to enjoy.

Fun for all the family in The Lost Castle

There was a special toddler area, which was good but little with a few swings, a slide, a sandpit, a quite area and toddler zip wires. These were the best because Spike loves the look of zip wires but can never go on them. The toddler zip wires were basically toddler swing seats with wires going from each corner up the the thing that goes on the wire. Spike LOVED them! In the main play area were countless big swings, snake swings for families, zip wires, slides, climbing walls and more. The inside under the main part of the castle was a mini obstacle course with monkey bars and balance beams, whilst the main square tower of the castle offered seating areas for any of the family that wanted to sit out.

Leaving the Lost Castle

We left the lost castle in the direction of the woods where Into the Woods cafe is located. The fun didn’t stop when we eventually got Spike out of the play area either. There was a long, cool balance beam and stepping stump arrangement on the way out. It was so cool! We stopped by the cafe for coffee/ Hot chocolate and a sneaky tube of smarties plus a loo break. Then we headed down the Western Terrace which had views for miles around! It was breathtaking!

More amazing gardens

The west side of Lowther Castle’s grounds were amazing, but a lot of it is work in progress. The new Rose Garden is blocked off, and the scented gardens and Japanese gardens have no working water features at the moment. I’m not sure if the castle are planning on making them work but they were still pretty to walk around. Both Spike and T were really tired by the time we got to this area of the grounds. We skipped some stuff, and didn’t spend much time in the Squirrel Hide. But did find another balance beam area which was fun and a Roman bath which is well worth a picture op – even if your child won’t join in.

Leaving the castle

We left the main grounds through the gate next to the ticket desk area, meaning we didn’t go through that area again. This took us back into the courtyard which in addition to cafe and cool fire pit features the shop. The shop is by the exit, however you don’t have to go through it to leave! A novelty for these types of places! I was really, really impressed with the way it was laid out and how much there was to see and do. We didn’t complete the Lowther Castle Bug Chase that was on for their summer holiday activity and didn’t even see all the grounds before we realised that the day was getting on and we needed to head home for tea! When we left we realised the car park was full and the overflow car park was in use. Though still it didn’t feel busy and was the ideal place to spend a chilled out summer holiday day out!

Would I go back?

Absolutely! I think Lowther Castle was an amazing day out for kids and adults alike! It had everything you need for a great day out in the summer holidays especially. There was lots of open space and things to enjoy! I really enjoyed the day, Spike loved all the new things she saw and did too! All in all, it cost us £22.50 with our advance tickets, but it was a full day out! I’ve paid more for things that only take an hour to complete so I was happy! I think it was my favourite birthday day out I’ve been on, possibility even more fun than Manchester Museum… but there were no dinosaurs, so maybe not!