Top Haunted locations in the Lake District

Published: Tuesday 22nd Oct 2019

Written by: Alex Barton

Kirkstone Pass Inn

The Kirkstone Pass Inn is an old coaching Inn which is believed to relate to a monastery dating back to the 15th Century and is reported to be the permanent home of many travellers who have long since passed. Throughout the Inns long history there have been plenty of stories about spectres and apparitions and tales of the supernatural from people working in and visiting the area. The apparitions are said to be the spirits of travellers who have met an unfortunate end while making the perilous journey.

The most famous story is the tale of Ruth Ray, who was on her way from Patterdale to see her sick father with her small child in tow. As so often happens in the area surrounding Ambleside, the weather unexpectedly took a turn for the worse and snow quickly fell, making it impossible to walk in any direction with certainty. When Ruth had not returned, her husband set out to look for her along the path she would have taken only to find her frozen and lifeless. The baby was wrapped up heavily and survived. To this day Ruth still haunts the Kirkstone Inn. It is thought she’s warning walkers of the weather and the dangers of the Kirkstone Pass.

Another is the story of a young boy who was killed by a coach outside the building. It is reported that a picture of a 17th century coachman was captured while he was lurking in the bar. The ghost was apparently the great, great grandfather of the family who took the picture, and it’s said that the spirit followed the visiting family who took the picture home and is now living with them!

There are stories of a frightening grey lady and the ghost of a hiker who once worked at the inn, who is now believed to be the culprit behind some of the poltergeist activity at the inn. Another ghost is that of woman who was hanged nearby for the supposed murder of her young child. She apparently haunts the tree close by, which is where she met her end.

There is also the famous copy of the picture of the church in the nearby village of Troutbeck which still hangs on the wall of the Inn today. In the picture is Reverend Sewell who helped rebuilt the Inn in 1847. When you compare the original picture form the copy, you will see that only the copy has the figure of a man standing behind the Reverend.

Kirkstone Pass Inn

Muncaster Castle

The Castle, nestled in Cumbria, believed to be standing on Roman remains, is a key part of the region’s history. Whilst the Pennington family have recorded evidence of this historic house as being their home since 1208 when lands were granted to Alan de Penitone, some records go back further suggesting that the family have been here since at least 1026.

A castle was built in the later 13th century and enlarged in the 14th when a pele tower was erected on Roman foundations (which would date back to 79AD), part of its fabric being incorporated in the south-west tower. A coin from the time of Emperor Theodosius (AD380) has been found, and there is also a Victor ring.

It was the fifth Baronet, created first Baron Muncaster who carried out far-reaching renovations inside and out including planting most of the large hardwood trees and founding the library, and his great-nephew Gamel Augustus, fourth Lord Muncaster who shortly before his death in 1862 instructed Anthony Salvin, whose main interest was military architecture and who was very fashionable, to update the house. Salvin covered the courtyard, built by first Lord Muncaster, converting it into the present Drawing Room, with its much-admired barrel ceiling which was the work of two Italian plasterers. It was redecorated in 1958 by Lady Pennington-Ramsden. The fifth and last Lord Muncaster, Gamel’s brother, died in 1917 and the Muncaster estate passed to his mother’s family, the Ramsdens, who carried out extensive works in the gardens and brought many of their possessions, including the Ramsden family portraits, to Muncaster. In those days the estate still extended to 23,000 acres.

Muncaster castle is a fine example of one of the Lake District and Cumbria’s favourite historic houses – come and see for yourself just how impressive the building and historic gardens are.

Muncaster Castle

Calgarth Hall

This sixteenth century manor house was owned by Kraster Cook and his wife Dorothy. Their neighbour was local Justice of the Peace Myles Philipson who wanted to buy the house, but the Cooks didn't want to sell.

To get his hands on the property, Myles accused the Cooks of theft, judged them and condemned them to death. However before she died, Dorothy cursed Calgarth promising that their screaming skulls would haunt the Hall night and day until the Philipsons left and that the family would never prosper.

Two skulls did indeed take up residence in Calgarth, and despite many attempts to get rid of them, including throwing them into the lake, they always returned. Myles Philipson had to sell his land to pay off debts, leaving only Calgarth which his son sold after his death.

The skulls never appeared again. And in 1705 the last member of the Philipson family died.

Callgarth Hall

Levens Hall

Despite its warm and welcoming atmosphere there are many tales of ghosts at Levens, as you might expect from a house that has seen centuries of history and many different owners. 

The most famous legend is about a gypsy woman who is said to have died cursing the house, claiming that no male heir would inherit until the River Kent ceased to flow and a white fawn was born in the Park. Strangely, the estate passed through the female line for four generations until the birth of Alan Desmond Bagot in 1896 when the river did indeed freeze over and a white fawn was born in the park. The three male heirs since have all been born on freezing winter days. A grey lady still haunts the drive near the river and has often been seen by visitors, including one that had to swerve to avoid a collision with a mysterious figure near Levens Bridge.

A little black dog has been seen chasing visitors up the main staircase as well as with the present owner's mother and wife outside the house.

The late Oliver Robin Bagot was even seen as a ghost playing the harpsichord when he was at the time on business in Keswick, earning him the distinction of being a ‘living’ ghost.

Rooms such as the Small Drawing Room and the Bellingham Bedroom above it have been known to disturb many visitors and some guests refuse to sleep in the bedroom. 

An episode filmed by the television programme ‘Most Haunted’ in 2002 discovered some lights, sounds and disturbing atmospheres not previously experienced by visitors.

Claife Cryer

On stormy night’s centuries ago, the ferrymen at Ferry Nab would often hear strange calls for the boat to come across the water but were too afraid to go. One night a young ferryman scoffed at their fears and rowed across.

The local people asked a monk who lived on one of the islands in Windermere to exorcise the ghost. On Christmas Day he took a bell and bible across the lake, and confined the ghost to the quarry and woods "until men should walk dry shod across the lake".

To this day there are stories of walkers being followed by a hooded figure at dusk on the heights of Claife.

Claire Heights


Alex Barton

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