The Lake District is the stuff life long memories are made of. It’s all here if you want to treat our kids to a family holiday they will never forget. The mountains, lakes and gorgeous Cumbrian coastline will have even the most-screen happy child enthralled, bestowing the precious gift of family time you all can enjoy!
The Lake District National Park is a cornucopia of walks to suit all abilities and levels of fitness. Families with older children will relish the challenge of scaling England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike. There are several routes, the most popular of which starts at Borrowdale.
Those with younger children can also have an adventure. The Lake District National Park runs free guided walks at various locations throughout the year, including through historical Keswick, to Orrest Head, and around Ullswater. There are 42 walking routes suitable for buggies and wheelchairs detailed in the “Miles without Stiles” routes, and you can pick up maps from information centres throughout the Lake District. A stroll around the village of Longsleddale may look familiar, as it is the place which inspired the creation of Postman Pat’s village of Greendale. Other flat and easy walks include the path around Derwentwater and the Keswick Railway Path, which is also good for cycling.
Speaking of cycling, there is ample opportunity to explore the Lake District by bicycle – both on and off road. Whinlatter and Grizedale Forests have a choice of mountain bike paths accommodating varying abilities, and you can also try Askham Fell and Windermere’s Western Shore Trail Treasure Hunt, which takes in Wray Castle.
The Lake District looks almost as magnificent in wet weather as in the dry (Aria Force waterfall, and Holme Force falls near Loweswater, are great examples) but if you don’t fancy getting soaked then there is plenty to keep kids occupied indoors. Top of the list is The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness. It’s not surprising that Potter’s enrapturing illustrations were created in such pretty surroundings and even adults will be charmed by the Peter Rabbit Garden or a visit to Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’s kitchen. A well-stocked gift shop and award winning café add to the fun.
Another quirky attraction is the Pencil Museum in Keswick. Marvel at the largest colour pencil in the world and find out the fascinating history behind this revolutionary writing instrument. Even including a visit to the gift shop, with its magnificent array of pencils, it’s still not a full day out, so while you’re in Keswick pop over to the Keswick Climbing Wall and Activity Centre with an indoor climbing wall for wet weather and a range of outdoor activities, including archery and kayaking, if it’s dry.
Poke your head underwater without getting wet at either the Lake District Coast Aquarium in Maryport, or the Aquarium of the Lakes on the southern side of Lake Windermere. Parents of energetic youngsters will appreciate the indoor play facilities at Rufty Tufty’s in Ambleside; and Brockhole Visitor Centre is ideal for wet, dry and in-between days, with indoor and outdoor play areas, paths suitable for buggies and bikes and Treetop Nets – a fantastic area of giant trampolines and walkways.
The Lake District is full of historical buildings that both entertain and educate. Mirehouse and Gardens by Bassenthwaite Lake near Keswick is as popular with families for the grounds, which include play areas, maze, tunnel and a bee garden; as for the house, which holds an impressive art collection. Save your appetite for lunch at the Old Sawmill Tearoom. Muncaster Castle has roots dating back to Roman Times and the ghosts to prove it! The gardens look stunning at any time of year and include an owl centre, maze and playground.
Force Crag Mine in Borrowdale and the ruins of the Howk Bobbin Mill in Caldbeck provide insight into the Lake District’s industrial history; or delve even deeper into the past at the Swinside Stone Circle west of Broughton in Furness and the Ravenglass Roman Bath House.
You can’t properly appreciate the raw beauty of the Lake District without getting out onto the water. Ullswater Steamers is an award winning attraction which has been operating for more than 150 years – there’s nothing about this part of the world they don’t know! Windermere Lake Cruises is a fantastic way to see the area’s largest lake, providing scheduled sightseeing cruises, hop-on-hop-off passes and combination tickets for both cruises and entry to attractions such as the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway and the Lakeland Motor Museum. They also give the option of self-drive and row boats. The Keswick Launch Company offers tours of Derwentwater leaving from Keswick. While you can book all of these boat trips in advance, you may wish to wait and see what the weather is like.
You might be on a self-catering holiday, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy eating out. There is a wide choice of family friendly restaurants in the Lake District, including The Wild Olive in Gosforth, which is opposite the village park and has an Italian menu and a dedicated kids’ play area. You certainly don’t need to be a vegetarian to enjoy the generous portions of tasty food at Rattle Gill Café in Ambleside, or if that’s busy then wander over to Matthew’s Bistro with its special children’s menu.
Greens Café in Grasmere serves some of the tastiest cakes and puddings you’ll have the pleasure of eating, with almost everything on the menu being freshly made in-house from local produce. It’s especially handy if you need gluten-free meals. Custom House in Barrow-in-Furness doesn’t just excel in delicious food and fantastic service, it also has a burger parlour and play zone. If you’re passing Lupton around lunch or dinner time, check out The Plough for delicious food in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere.
The Lake District is jam-packed with fun family days out, regardless of the age of your children or the weather. You’ll find breathtaking scenery, a friendly welcome and a huge choice of activities everyone will love, to give you a holiday you will always remember.