A guide to holidays in Wray
Wray is a collection of two small hamlets, High Wray and Low Wray, clustered on the western shores of Lake Windermere and home to Wray Castle, one of the grandest castles you will find in the north of England.
Created in a neo-gothic style, this spectacular manor house was built in 1840, and played a role in the founding of the National Trust. Hardwicke Rawnsley, the vicar of the neighbouring church, and his nephew Edward, who owned the church, conceived of the National Trust during his time there. They were inspired by the ideas of John Ruskin, another famous former resident of the region. It also has a place in literary history, as Beatrix Potter spent a summer holiday at Wray Castle in her teenage years. She then went on to buy several properties and areas of land across the Lake District, later bequeathing many of these in her will to the National Trust for the public to enjoy.
From outside, there’s the striking turrets, arrow slits, towers and other architectural features to behold, whilst inside you can explore the castle’s vast living spaces, mock ruins and hidden doors, gaining an insight into 19th century life.
Wray Castle is worth exploring both inside and out, with extensive grounds to explore meaning you can easily spend the entire day here. The grounds are notable for their variety of specimen trees, which include redwood, wellingtonia, weeping lime and several kinds of beech; William Wordsworth also planted a mulberry tree here in 1845. Walk through Watbarrow Wood and you will come to the water’s edge, where you can enjoy spectacular and secluded views across Windermere.
Wray is a great place to base a holiday in the Lake District, not only because of the spectacular castle on your doorstep, but also because it is perfect for exploring Lake Windermere and its towns and villages. Nearby, you can scale Claife Heights and enjoy the panoramic views all around you, while at the Claife Viewing Station, the windows are tinted with different colours so you can see how Windermere looks across the changing seasons and times of day.
Heading further afield is easy, thanks to the Windermere Lake Cruise boats which stop regularly at Wray Castle. From here you can travel to Ambleside, a popular lakeside town, as well as Brockhole, the Lake District’s official visitor centre. Set within 30 acres of splendid gardens, Brockhole has a treetop assault course to keep the family entertained, as well as exhibitions, picnic spots, a shop and a restaurant/tea room. Ambleside has a wider choice of places to eat and relax, as well as a water sports centre and many other walks and attractions.
If you’ve been inspired to base your Lake District holiday in Wray, take a look at our collection of Wray holiday cottages and accommodation to find your perfect place to stay.