Day 1 - Ravenglass Circuit via Muncaster Castle
Where the Sea Meets the Mountains
Day 1 of our 3 Day trip to the Western Lake District started in the pretty fishing town of Ravenglass – the only coastal town in the Lake District. An 8.5 km walk took us through the ancient remains of Roman baths, the impressive site of Muncaster Castle and the peaceful tidal coastal flats of the Cumbrian coast near Seascale. A truly lovely walk on the wildside. Allow 2.5 – 3.5 hours for the walk – but a whole day to fully explore the area if you can.
Follow the link for the OS map we used for our hike.
Ravenglass - Roman Baths Remains
Our walk began in the care park at the Station Museum near the centre of Ravenglass. If you have plenty of time, you could easily build a visit to the museum into your itinerary – but we wanted to spend more time walking on this trip. At the time of writing the parking charge was £4 for 4 hours and the machine accepts credit card payments.
Ravenglass is also home to La’al Ratty, a narrow-gauge train that chugs up into the mountains to Eskdale on a scenic 7-mile train journey. If you have time, this could be a nice addition to your trip.
The remains of the Roman Baths are the first landmark you will come to on the walk. An artist’s impression of how the baths might once have looked really helps to bring history to life:
“Imagine the sights, sounds and smells of around 2000 years ago. The hustle and bustle in the ficus. Everyday people and soldiers emerging freshly washed from the bath house. New cargoes of fish, olive oil and wine being unloaded at the harbour. Ovens spreading the aroma of freshly baked bread each morning.”
Muncaster Castle and Gardens
Continue along the route to Muncaster Castle. If you have time, you can buy an entry ticket and explore all the castle and gardens have to offer. Alternatively, you can just buy a walker’s ticket which allows you to explore the gardens for an hour.
There is also a Bird of Prey centre at Muncaster Castle where you can watch live flying displays of hawks and owls.
Muncaster Castle estate enjoys a remarkably warm microclimate. The winds that howl across the Irish Sea often shed their rain on the poor hikers braving the fog of the high fells. Meanwhile, you can explore the exotic shrubs that the benign climate allows to thrive here dressed in your Summer T-Shirt watching the rare birds swoop down from the castle battlements . It’s a no brainer?!
For me though, the real highlight of our stroll through the Muncaster Castle Gardens gardens was Bugingham Palace. This cosy wildlife eco lodge is around 6mx8m – I want one!
Tidal Coastal Flats - Seascale
After you leave Muncaster Castle, the walk goes through an interesting woodland section and opens out onto the wild expanse of the tidal coastal flats near Seascale. You will have plenty of sheep for company on this pretty stretch of the hike.
The walk finishes back in Ravenglass. Snakes of seaweed – dried hard and crunchy in the heat of the Summer sun – mark your path back along the shoreline into the village. The original single street medieval layout has been retained. At one time, sea workers lived on the side of the street nearest the sea and landworkers lived on the opposite side.
In the 2nd century, the Roman Navy made its home here. At one time, the village had an incredible 15 blacksmiths.
Flora and Fauna
We spotted several grouse here – proving that the Famous Grouse does exist on more than just the whisky bottle label.
Tips for Future Travellers
You can actually stay at Muncaster Castle and enjoy the grounds when the visitors have all disappeared. They have a 4* B & B in the grounds – sounds tempting?
Check the tide times before you walk. There is a (small) risk that the path back to Ravenglass can be cut off at very high tides.