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Things to do in the Lake District for Families

The Lake District, a stunning region in northwest England, is an ideal destination for families seeking outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, and unforgettable memories. With its breath-taking landscapes, charming villages, and rich literary heritage, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Here are some must-do activities for families visiting the Lake District.


Ariel view of Windermere

1. Windermere Lake Cruises

One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Lake Windermere, the largest natural lake in England, is by taking a Windermere steamer cruise. These traditional boats offer scenic cruises that allow you to soak in the picturesque surroundings from the water.

There are several options available, including round trips and one-way journeys between Bowness, Ambleside, and Lakeside. You can stay on for the full trip or get off and walk some of the lake shore or visit popular attractions such as Wray Castle. Children love the excitement of being on a boat, and parents can relax and enjoy the stunning views.


Tips:

  • Combine your cruise with a visit to the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway for a delightful steam train journey.

  • Pack a picnic to enjoy on the boat or at one of the lakeside picnic spots.


Children playing in a waterfall - ghyll scrambling

2. Ghyll Scrambling and Canyoning with Path to Adventure

Path to Adventure will guide you on a family adventure that is fun for all the everyone, taking care of safety and providing all the equipment you need so that you can sit back and enjoy the experience and have quality time together as a family.


Ghyll Scrambling

The perfect activity that is great fun for the whole family. Ghyll Scrambling otherwise known as Gorge Walking, involves climbing, sliding, and jumping your way through mountain streams and gorges, making for an unforgettable adventure. With big jumps for those that dare and smaller fun jumps and challenges there is something here to entertain the smallest to the tallest!

Canyoning jump at the Esk Gorge

Canyoning

For families with older children looking for an adrenaline rush - try Canyoning. This more challenging activity involves descending into deep gorges with big jumps, swims and slides. For those seeking big family adventures - this is sure to entertain!

 

Tips:

  • Available for children from age 5 upwards. There are sessions to suit all ages of children.

  • You’ll need swimwear and sturdy footwear; Path to Adventure provides all the necessary safety equipment, top quality kit and instruction.

  • Leave your phone behind as Path to Adventure takes photos of your adventure for free!


View of Tarn Hows

3. Wainwright Walks

The Lake District is renowned for its walking trails, and no visit would be complete without exploring some of the famous Wainwright walks. Alfred Wainwright, a beloved British fell walker and guidebook author, mapped out numerous routes that cater to all levels of hikers. For families, some of the more accessible and enjoyable walks include:

  • Catbells: A shorter but rewarding walk, offering stunning views of Derwentwater and the surrounding fells. Children will love the scramble that takes you to the summit.

  • Tarn Hows: A gentle, circular walk around a picturesque tarn, perfect for younger children and pushchairs.

  • Buttermere Circuit: A flat and easy path that takes you around stunning Buttermere.

 

Tips

  • Ensure everyone wears suitable footwear and brings plenty of water and snacks.

  • Check the weather forecast before setting out and be prepared for sudden changes in conditions. Mountain weather information service (MWIS) is especially helpful to see what the weather will be doing higher in the hills.


Hill Top - Beatrix Potters House - Lake District

4. Beatrix Potter Attractions

Beatrix Potter, the beloved author of children's classics like "The Tale of Peter Rabbit," has a strong connection to the Lake District. Families can explore her legacy through several dedicated attractions:

  • The World of Beatrix Potter: Located in Bowness-on-Windermere, this interactive attraction brings Potter's stories to life with beautifully crafted displays and exhibits. Children will love meeting their favourite characters there. There are also special events throughout the year.

  • Hill Top: Visit Beatrix Potter's former home, a charming 17th-century farmhouse in Near Sawrey. Managed by the National Trust, the house remains as Potter left it, filled with her personal belongings and references to her stories.

Tips:

  • Book tickets for The World of Beatrix Potter in advance, especially during peak seasons.

  • Combine your visit to Hill Top with a stroll through the surrounding countryside that inspired Potter's tales. You can reach Beatrix Potters tarn in a short walk from Far Sawrey.


Aira Force Waterfall - Lake District

5. National Trust Properties

The Lake District is home to numerous National Trust properties that offer a mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. Some family-friendly highlights include:

  • Sizergh Castle: Explore the medieval house and its beautiful gardens, with plenty of space for children to run around. There are often family-friendly events and activities available. Sizergh has a fantastic adventure trail that is great for younger children. The walks and trail are free to visit. You only need pay for parking your car.

  • Fell Foot Park: Located at the southern tip of Lake Windermere, this park offers stunning lake views, boat hire, and plenty of open space for picnics and games. The adventure playground is a hit with younger visitors.

  • Aira Force: This dramatic waterfall near Ullswater provides a great short walk through enchanting woodland, with bridges and viewpoints that add to the adventure. Go when it is raining or has just rained for spectacular falls.

Tips:

  • Check the National Trust website for information on opening times and any special events.

  • Bring a National Trust membership card if you have one, as it grants free entry to these and other properties across the UK.


Ratty Steam Train - Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

6. The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway (Ratty Train)

The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, affectionately known as the "Ratty Train," is a charming narrow-gauge steam railway that runs from Ravenglass to Dalegarth. This scenic seven-mile journey takes you through the beautiful Eskdale Valley, offering spectacular views and a delightful experience for the whole family.

Tips:

  • Check the timetable and book your tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

  • Combine your train journey with a walk in the Eskdale Valley or a visit to one of the local pubs for a hearty meal.

  • End your journey with a treat by enjoying some delicious ice cream at the Ravenglass station.


Man holding Owl - Owl Display Muncaster Castle

7. Muncaster Castle and Owl Display

Muncaster Castle, a historic fortress with beautiful gardens in a wooded setting, offers a fantastic family day out. One of the highlights is the daily owl and hawk display, where you can watch these magnificent birds in action and learn about their conservation. Children are well catered for with the adventure playground and enchanted trail for younger children.

Tips:

  • Arrive early to explore the castle and gardens before the owl display.

  • Check out the castle's family-friendly events and activities, which often include treasure hunts and guided tours.


Buttermere

8. Free Outdoor Activities

The Lake District offers a plethora of free activities that let families enjoy the great outdoors without breaking the bank. Here are some fantastic options:

  • Exploring the Fells: Many of the Lake District's most beautiful landscapes can be accessed for free. For adventurous families you can enjoy hiking big mountains like Helvellyn, Scafell Pike, and Great Gable. For those with little legs, there are lots of smaller hills to enjoy the Lakes fabulous views from. These hikes range from moderate to challenging, so choose one that fits your family's abilities.

  • Lake Swimming: On a warm day, enjoy a refreshing swim in one of the region's many lakes, such as Coniston, Derwentwater or Ullswater. Always supervise children and ensure the water is safe before swimming.

  • Picnicking: Pack a picnic and find a scenic spot to enjoy your meal. Popular picnic spots include Grasmere, Tarn How's, and the shores of Coniston Water.

  • Wildlife Watching: The Lake District is teeming with wildlife. Visit locations like RSPB Leighton Moss or the Osprey Viewing Point at Dodd Wood to see a variety of birds and other animals.

  • Stone Skimming: Head to a pebble-strewn lakeshore and see who can skim stones the furthest. Derwentwater and Windermere have plenty of ideal spots for this simple, timeless activity.

Tips:

  • Carry a map and familiarize yourself with the area to find the best free attractions. Tourist offices are full of good advice and knowledge if you are looking for inspiration.

  • Bring plenty of snacks, water, extra layers as the weather can change very quickly in the mountains and of course a camera to capture your family's adventures.


Conclusion

The Lake District is brimming with family-friendly activities, combining outdoor adventure, literary heritage, and cultural exploration. Whether you're cruising on Windermere, walking in Wainwright's footsteps, delving into Beatrix Potter's world or enjoying adrenaline-pumping adventures with Path to Adventure you're sure to create lasting memories in this spectacular place. So pack your bags, put on your walking boots, and get ready for an unforgettable family adventure in the heart of the Lake District!

 

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