As Halloween approaches at the end of this month we take a look at some of the Lake District’s most haunted and spookiest places. Plus, we have a guide to some of the scariest events taking place across the national park in celebration of the ghoulish date.

Muncaster Castle

Muncaster Halloween 2018

Muncaster Castle

Said to be one of Britain’s most haunted castles, Muncaster Castle in Ravenglass certainly has a spooky and horrible history of ghost sightings. The castle dates back to the 13th century, though there are records to suggest that the Pennington family have lived in the grounds since before the Norman invasion. A building that is around 700 years old is sure to have seen its fair share of death and tragedy, so it’s no surprise that there have been numerous reports of paranormal activity within the castle’s walls.

The castle’s most famous ghost is Tom Skelton, AKA Tom Fool, who was a jester in the castle in the latter part of the 16th century. Although he was considered highly entertaining, it’s said that he had a nasty streak, playing horrible tricks on people he didn’t like the look of, and perhaps even being responsible for the murder of a local carpenter who tragically fell in love with a member of the Pennington family.

There are many claims of unusual happenings in the castle that have been attributed to Tom and the other ghosts said to occupy the estate. A baby has been heard crying, door handles have been rattled in the night, footsteps have been heard in empty rooms and corridors, temperatures have rapidly dropped without explanation, and there has been the general feeling of being watched by a dark presence.

The grounds of Muncaster Castle are open daily, but the castle is open Sunday – Friday from noon until 4pm. The castle is hosting a number of spooky events to celebrate Halloween, with the full details available here.

The Ambleside to Grasmere Coffin Route

Rydal Water

Rydal Water

In ancient times, churches cemented their authority by insisting that the dead must be buried on consecrated ground. For rural communities, such as those in Cumbria, this was often problematic as the nearest church could be many miles away. This led to the creation of corpse roads, also known as coffin routes. These were fairly level paths where graves could be carried from villages to the designated consecrated ground.

Today, many of these paths remain as rights of way, and although they look fairly benign, there is something disquieting about them. During the height of their use in the medieval period, many people were very fearful of the dead, and of the routes themselves that were considered to be haunted. Several of the routes still have large stones at points along the way where coffins could be placed allowing the carriers to rest, since placing a coffin on the ground would result in the land being cursed.

One of the most popular coffin routes to walk today is the route between Grasmere and Ambleside, once used by mourners who would carry their dead to Grasmere be buried. This quiet, lonely path is a place to reflect on the passing of time as it rises above Rydal Water. You can find that route here.

 

The Kirkstone Pass Inn

Sunset from Kirkstone Pass

Sunset from Kirkstone Pass

Cumbria’s highest inn stands at the summit of the Kirkstone Pass, a treacherous route that was once part of the main road that linked Cumbria to Scotland. The inn was built 500 years ago to accommodate travellers making that arduous journey. The remote inn is said to be occupied by several ghosts, all of which tragically fell victim to the dangers that this mountain pass has to offer. The inn’s most famous ghost is of a young mother by the name of Ruth Rey. One winter’s day, Ruth set out from her home in Patterdale (near Glenridding) to see her father in Ambleside, who had become seriously ill. She took her infant child with her, wrapped carefully in blankets.

Sadly, the harsh Cumbrian winter weather took hold of Ruth and she was later found frozen to death. Fortunately, her child was said to have survived thanks to the careful way that Ruth had wrapped the baby up in multiple blankets. In the years that passed, the ghost of Ruth was allegedly spotted by travellers to the inn. She apparently warned them to wrap up warm before heading along the pass.

The inn has a number of other ghosts said to haunt the patrons who make the journey deep into the fells, including a young boy called Neville who likes to play tricks and a coachman who wanders through the corridors. It’s thought that these and the other resident spirits all perished on the pass, and visitors often report paranormal activity in the inn, including doors rattling, objects moving, and temperature changes. The inn has a small number of guest rooms for those who are brave enough to spend a night or two in the haunted building.

 

Claife Heights

Claife Heights Overlooking Lake Windermere

Claife Heights Overlooking Lake Windermere

The eastern shore of Windermere is dotted with luxury hotels, activity centres, shops and museums. Hardly the setting for a tale of love, rejection, anguish, and ultimately death. However, head over to the wild western shore of the lake and it’s an entirely different affair. The remote eerie woodlands is indeed the perfect setting for the tragic tale of the Claife Crier. Legend has it that a monk from the nearby Furness Abbey fell in love with a woman who lived in the area, but she spurned his attempts at affection and he became heartbroken as a result. His despair was so deep that he took to the Claife Heights and began wailing and crying, eventually dying of a broken heart. His ghost remained in the woodland and was reportedly heard by the ferrymen of Windermere as he continued his wails of anguish. He became known as the Crier of Claife.

The story continues with one particularly brave ferryman who decided to investigate the cries for himself, only to return to Windermere a mad man who would die a few days later. In response, another Monk came to the area to attempt to exorcise the spirit, but the Crier was too strong to be vanquished completely. Instead, the monk confined the spirit to an old abandoned quarry, with the declaration that the Crier would remain there until the lake dried up completely. Today, the crier’s final haunting place is marked on OS maps, to be found at Grid Ref SD 385 981. The surrounded woodlands offer a good number of low level walking routes, if you are feeling brave.

 

Moresby Hall

Moresby Hall

Moresby Hall

Heading west and venturing outside of the Lake District national park and we come to Moresby Hall in Parton, near Whitehaven. The bleak Cumbrian coast is often the scene for some ferocious storms that sweep in from the Atlantic and batter the moorland with grey oppressive clouds hanging overhead. Moresby Hall stands proudly on this coast. The Grade I listed building dates back to the 12th century and was built on the site of a Roman graveyard. Over the centuries, skeleton remains have been discovered in and around the hall, including under the floorboards and around the chimney.

It is said that a pagan temple once stood here, leading to speculation about the spirits that roam the building. The owner of the building has reported seeing the ghost of soldier on a number of occasions, whilst a tunnel that leads between the hall and the nearby church have been the setting for some paranormal activity, including strange lights and temperature changings. Furthermore, in the 18th century, the family were supporters of the Jacobite rebellion. The head of the house was taken to London for questioning, leaving another supporter hidden in hole between the walls, who then tragically died from starvation. It’s thought the ghost of the poor man now haunts one of the bedrooms.

The ghosts of Moresby Hall are so prevalent that the building was featured on an episode of Most Haunted, during which the presenters bravely took on the spooky tunnel and experienced a number of terrifying incidents. Today, Moresby Hall is a hotel with 13 beautifully styled rooms. Are you brave enough to spend the night?

 

Halloween Events in the Lake District

Halloween 2018

This October the school half term falls during the week before Halloween, and as a result many of the Halloween activities we list here are taking place during the week beginning 22nd October 2018.

 

The Brockhole Halloween Experience 2018

Halloween costumes

From the 20th to the 31st of October, the Lake District visitor centre at Brockhole is taking on a Halloween theme with pumpkin trails, a haunted house, zombie archery, a giant spider’s nest, and more. There will be Halloween themed crafts and refreshments.

 

Witches & Wizards Week at Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway & Lakes Aquarium

Witches & Wizards Week 2018

A haunted carriage has been discovered in the tunnel of the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, whilst the Lakes Aquarium has been invaded by ghouls, ghosts, and other terrifying apparitions. Children in fancy dress get free entry into the aquarium and a free train ride if they are accompanied by a paying adult.

 

Muncaster Castle

Halloween at Munster Castle

During half term week, there will be plenty of spooky activities at Muncaster Castle, including circus performances, a scary maze, and scary story telling. There’s even an extra special theatrical Halloween tour. Check out what's on here!

 

Holker Hall Halloween Fun

Holker Hall Halloween 2018

At Holker Hall near Grange-Over-Sands, there will be four days of Halloween themed activities this half term, with craft workshops and an interactive Harry Potter inspired theatrical event.

 

Halloween Masquerade Ball at Beech Hill Hotel

Masquerade Mask

Celebrate Halloween in style this October at the Beech Hill Hotel in Windermere, where for £49 per person you can enjoy a four-course gourmet meal accompanied by entertainment from a magician and a string quartet. After the meal, diners are invited to dance the night away with the resident DJ.

 

Halloween at the World of Beatrix Potter

Face Painting at World of Beatrix Potter

On Sunday 28th October, the World of Beatrix Potter attraction is holding a Halloween fun day. Children in Halloween fancy dress will receive free entry when accompanied by a paying adult. There will be free spooky crafts and face painting on the day.

 

Folklore & Fairy Tales at Wray Castle

Shadow Puppetry at Wray Castle

Between 20th October and 4th November, Wray Castle is hosting a special indoor shadow forest where visitors will be able to discover the mysterious characters from the classic folk tales that inspired Beatrix Potter. In addition, there are daily performances of Hansel & Gretel using shadow puppetry.

 

Ghostly Tales at Wordsworth House

Ghostly Tales at Wordsworth House

In Wordsworth’s childhood home in Cockermouth visitors can join the house servants by a roaring fire and listen to some traditional spooky Cumbrian tales, perhaps told to William and Dorothy themselves when they lived in the house.

 

Carve a Pumpkin at Rheged

Pumpkins

Go beyond the usual smiling face on your pumpkin and create a more unusual design at Rheged this half term. Artist, John Stokes, will lead groups in a workshop that will result in a beautifully carved pumpkin ready for Halloween.

 

Spook-O 2018 – Orienteering at Whinlatter Forest

Orienteering at Whinlatter Forest

On Thursday 25th October, at 6.30pm bring along a torch and follow a special orienteering trail through the dark woods. Fancy dress is optional and families are welcome. A small charge applies, along with parking fees.

 

Halloween at Lowther Castle

Halloween Crafts at Lowther Castle

There’s a different spooky event taking place every day at Lowther Castle during half term week, including craft workshops, insect and reptile displays, slimy science shows, and pumpkin carving. The week finishes with a ghoulish evening of fun on Sunday the 28th of October.