Lowther Castle | PenrithFriday, October 02, 2015
Continuing in my mission to share all the best bits of our time in the Lake District and the surrounding area.
We visited Lowther Castle quite by chance, it's not far from Penrith. We'd made a beeline for Shap Abbey which is an English Heritage site (free to visit), which is tucked away down quiet roads and finally descending into a valley. The abbey was fascinating for a short trip (under an hour), I adore learning about the history of an area; it's just mind blowing to stand somewhere so quiet and empty and to imagine what has happened in that exact spot over hundreds of years.
Back to Lowther Castle itself. It's an amazing place.
We arrived just after midday I think and decided that an early lunch would be an excellent plan. The cafe is swish, modern, clean and serves a marvellous array of eats. The food is home cooked; they serve proper hearty dishes as well as light bites and cakes plus drinks and very importantly, good coffee. We opted for a beautiful sounding meatball dish which we each polished off with great satisfaction. Great stuff!
To get into the shops, cafe and forecourt is free and if I lived nearby I'd be a-visiting just for a decent hot meal as a matter of course.
We were greeted into the Castle grounds by a very friendly chap who gave us a good idea of what was going on with the restoration and pointed out some 'must-see' parts of the grounds. I do appreciate insider information and we were made to feel most welcome. It was during the week we visited, Monday possibly, anyway it was pretty quiet and of course the grounds are so extensive that it's not going to get overcrowded.
The Castle itself is a stunning building. No roof, or windows. It's an immaculate shell of a building which in no small part reminded us of a Disney fairy-tale castle. It was so inspiring to look both from a distance at the structure and also right inside the walls where a garden has been planted. A great use of the space. The castle and grounds are undergoing restoration (since 2010 I believe) and I heard this makes them the largest restoration project in Europe. The grounds were let go completely for decades and so over the last 5 years it's been a gradual process of reclaiming it all back from nature.
We took our time wandering through the grounds as a steady stroll is the best way to take in the surroundings, especially when carrying a camera to capture all the things that catch my eye. Armed with our map and tip offs about the best parts we set off. I was immediately drawn to the mesmerising strips of wildflowers in bloom, thousands of flowers all in bloom was a spectacle indeed! There are footpaths all over the gardens and not a single 'keep off the grass' sign to be found, how refreshing!
Can I say that the rope swings for big kids were brilliant fun. I got C to give me push and proceeded to laugh my way back and forth for a few minutes. Such fun!
The walk up to the to of the Patte d'Oie was utterly worthwhile for the view. It was wonderful. We relished in it. The staircase with heart shaped steps was a romantic spot indeed; the stones were pilfered from Shap Abbey down the road!
The view from the summerhouse was amazing. Mind the drop though! The yew avenue left a feeling of how things used to be and the rock garden had an eeriness of shadows of the past. There was lots to see but to make the most of it you need to take your time and use your imagination. It's an ideal place to visit with friends or if you like to spend time walking around somewhere at a leisurely pace.