Family Outings: World Owl Centre

Twit-twoo: teatime hunting with Sparky and Baldrick


The venue

The venue

The World Owl Centre is the headquarters of the World Owl Trust, a global organisation working to save threatened owl species and their habitats. The centre is also the public face of the Trust's work, and home to one of the world's most comprehensive collections of owls. Every bird here has been rescued from mistreatment, captivity or injury, or is part of a captive breeding programme for endangered species. You can expect to see up to 200 owls from 52 species and sub-species, from graceful barn owls to the grey owl, which appears to be wrapped in a large feather duvet, as well as birds of prey.

By necessity they are housed in large enclosures, though these are far removed from the more dismal displays you may have encountered in some zoos. The information area promotes the centre's strong conservation message and also houses CCTV screens showing the insides of nests. You will find the centre, along with its wonderful wildflower meadow, in the grounds of Muncaster Castle on the western edge of the Lake District.

Something for children

Try to get along for early afternoon, when the daily meet-the-birds display takes place. This involves a conservation talk and a chance to watch some of the owls and birds of prey participating in falconry exercises, though you won't be allowed to stroke the birds (not a wise move under any circumstances). The favourites include Sparky the barn owl and Baldrick, a common buzzard sponsored by the actor Tony Robinson from Blackadder and Time Team. Then take them around the enclosures and see how many owls they can spot - many, such as Mackinder's Eagle Owl, are well camouflaged.

Something for adults

Owls in the wild are hard to see, so this is a chance to view them close up in a setting that does not raise misgivings about captivity. Take Cugat, the Ethiopian eagle owl, given to the centre after she was rescued from a village where children used her to beg with, and had broken her wing and a leg so she could not fly away. Or the European Eagle Owl, the world's largest owl, whose habitat has been devastated by acid rain. Also look out for the enchanting ashy-faced owls, possibly the world's rarest.

Refreshments

Just a couple of minutes' walk away is Creeping Kate's Kitchen in the castle stableyard. It's a prettily painted place which serves a good choice of food. The kids' menu costs £4.95 and offers options, from fish fingers to baked potatoes and ice-cream. Adults could plump for the local speciality, a Cumberland sausage ring for £5.65.

Souvenirs

It's a hard-hearted parent who won't buy a fluffy toy owl, which come in all shapes and sizes. Also on sale are a range of fleeces for around £28 each; general and specialist books on birds and ideas for your garden, including bird tables (£36).

Admission and access

The centre receives 80,000 visitors a year and can get busy when bad weather drives walkers off the fells. The gardens and owl centre are open daily, 10.30am-6pm. Entry costs £6 for adults, £4 for children. A family ticket (2+2) costs £18. Wheelchairs are available by the shop.

How to get there

The Owl Centre, Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, Cumbria CA18 1RQ. Tel: 01229 717393; www.owls.org.

By car: Turn off at junction 36 of the M6, then the A590 and later the A595 signposted for Ravenglass.

By public transport: the centre is a 10-minute walk from Ravenglass train station (08457 484 950). The "mountain goat" minibus service runs tours from the central Lake District fells to the centre (015394 45161; www.mountain-goat.com).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering