8 Fun Things to Do in The Lake District with Kids

whatever the weather!

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Activities galore no matter the weather

You can’t always rely on the weather in the Lake District, whatever time of the year you visit, but one thing you can depend on is there’s always something to do to keep the kids (and you) entertained – outdoors and indoors, up high and down low, on water and on land.

From climbing fells to climbing walls, going ape to going underground, steam train rides to treetop treks, boat trips to mind flips, and lots more besides.

We’ve rounded up some of our favourite things to do with the kids in the Lake District. Activities that the whole family will love. And if you need somewhere to stay while you’re here, check out our range of family-friendly holiday cottages.

1. Watch out for Mr McGregor 

Younger children will love a visit to The World of Beatrix Potter to see their favourite characters brought to life as they wander through the charming recreation of Beatrix Potter’s Lake District. 

There’s also Peter Rabbit’s Garden to explore – designed by a Chelsea RHS Gold medal winner, it features lots of the fruit, vegetables and herbs Beatrix Potter would have grown in her own garden.

And, as you wander round, have fun seeing how many details from the stories you can spot. There’s always lots of events going on throughout the year, and when you need to refuel, take the weight off in the character-themed café before picking up a souvenir to take home from the gift shop. Find out more and plan your visit here.

2. Full Steam Ahead

Known to locals as La’al Ratty, the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway is one of the oldest and longest narrow gauge railways in England.

From its beginnings in 1757 transporting ore, to now ferrying passengers and inspiring awe, a ride on one of the lovingly restored steam and diesel engines in the fleet is not to be missed. Running for seven miles through breathtaking scenery with seven request stops on the way, including Muncaster Mill and Miteside Halt, the circular route will take you across the estuary and through the hills to its final destination at Dalegarth for Boot station.

Before you set off, take some time to look at the viewing turntables, visit the interactive museum, pick up a children’s activity box and enjoy the children’s play area. All aboard!

3. Going Underground

Honister Slate Mine is the last working slate mine in England and slate has been mined there for centuries. But now it’s also a popular tourist attraction and offers a range of adrenaline-filled adventures for the family to enjoy.

From guided Mine Tours that delve deep into the mine through underground passages and caverns, to the thrilling and challenging Via Ferrata Xtreme, which ends with spectacular views over Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater.

And that’s not all that’s on offer – you can Climb the Mine, walk across Infinity Bridge, the longest highwire bridge in Europe, or have a go at Canyoning.

Getting there is a bit of an adventure too – it’s at the top of Honister Pass, one of the steepest roads in the country. Check that handbrake.

4. Underwater Adventures

A great rainy-day activity, the Lakes Aquarium is the third most visited attraction in the Lake District. And it’s easy to see why.

Not only does is it house the largest collection of freshwater fish in the UK, along with weird and wonderful species from around the world, including clownfish, piranhas, and blind cave fish, you can also see otters, diving ducks, blue poison dart frogs, and axolotls.

Set over two floors with zones featuring creatures from The Americas, Africa, Asia, The Rainforest, and, of course, the Lake District, there’s also a shop and a café.

And, you can arrive in style too – by boat, with Windermere Lake Cruises, or by steam train, courtesy of the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway.

5. The height of indoor adventure

If you’re not quite ready to take on the fells just yet, or the weather says not today, an indoor climbing wall is the next best thing. They’re a great way to learn the ropes if you’re new to climbing and a safe way to introduce children to the activity, as they usually have various levels of difficulty so you can build up your skills gradually. You can find indoor climbing walls all over Cumbria, but we want to mention a couple of our favourites:

Ambleside Adventure has a wall and bouldering area, with taster sessions and private lessons available.

The Lakeland Climbing Centre in Kendal houses the UK’s highest climbing wall and Europe’s first Via Ferrata, and has a Crazyclimb for younger children.

While the Kong Adventure in Keswick has an indoor caving area, and a multi-themed roped climbing wall. Plus there’s a hard play area that’s a great introduction for little ones. Up you go.

6. You Won’t Believe your Eyes

You’ll find optical llusions, 3D holograms, a room with a twist, watch yourself grow and shrink, see balls roll up hill, and so much more at The Puzzling Place.

With five exhibit areas and three illusion rooms, it’s a mind-bending, brain-teasing way to spend a couple of hours on a wet afternoon – and there are plenty of those in Cumbria.

There’s a shop to buy your own puzzles and curiosities, and as it’s right in the centre of Keswick, there are plenty of places to eat and drink and ask yourself ‘What did we just see?’

7. Something to Write Home About

Want to see an enormous pencil? Of course you do. Home to one of the biggest colour pencils in the world (almost eight metres long), the Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick is well worth a visit.

You enter the museum through a recreation of the mine where graphite was first discovered in the sixteenth century, learn about the fascinating history of pencil making through the ages, and see how Derwent make their fine art pencils today.

You can also marvel at the miniature pencil sculptures and look at the World War 2 pencils with their hidden maps – made in secret in Keswick and given to Lancaster Bomber airmen to help in the war effort. There are four originals on show, donated by the family of the inventor, Charles Fraser-Smith, thought to be the inspiration for Q in the James Bond series.

Don’t forget to pick some art supplies before you leave.

8. Monkeying Around in the Trees

If you’ve got a head for heights and a sense of adventure, you’re going to love Go Ape.

High in the trees you’ll find challenging obstacles, wobbly bridges, exhilarating zipwires, tree to tree crossings… you get the picture.

With courses for thrill-seekers of all ages, you can go easy or go hard (and higher) – if you dare. You can find two Go Apes in Cumbria:

Get yourself to Grizedale, where you’ll find five different Go Ape adventures, including (for older children) the Zip Trekking Adventure – 3km of tandem zip-wiring through the trees.

Or head to Whinlatter Forest, where four Go Ape activities await the adventurous.

Planning on visiting the Lakes with your family?

We have some fantastic properties to suite your family’s needs. If you have any questions about your intended stay, please get in touch. We’ll be happy to help.

Discover more of the Lake District

With weekly articles highlighting the very best of the Lake District, there’s always something to get you inspired for your next trip!

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