This post is written in collaboration with Original Cottages
A few years ago, pre-children, my husband and I had the most wonderful break in the Lake District. We stayed in a super luxurious hotel, went walking every day, before coming back to the hotel to relax in the bath and then head to the swanky hotel restaurant for dinner. We absolutely loved the beautiful scenery and as part of our plan to explore more of the UK, it’s been really high up on our list. But there’s no denying that our plans for a trip to the Lake District have changed now that we have children to consider. No more long rambles for us! But there’s still plenty for us to occupy ourselves with, and I’ve been researching in preparation for a trip next year to the Lake District with kids.
The World of Beatrix Potter
The Beatrix Potter stories form a huge part of my childhood and I’ve happily passed that onto my children too. Max is a huge fan of Peter Rabbit (albeit he tends to prefer the CBeebies version to my own lovingly read aloud stories), so The World of Beatrix Potter is a must-visit for us. It features Peter Rabbit and a whole host of other characters from the books, and it takes you through Mr MacGregor’s garden, Mrs Tiggywinkle’s laundry, and Jemima Puddleduck’s woodland glade.
Beatrix Potter’s House
A great follow up from The World of Beatrix Potter has to be visiting her house, Hill Top, which is owned by the National Trust. It’s filled with Beatrix’s favourite things, including her dolls house, and has references to the stories in every room. But the cottage garden is the biggest draw for me – the garden seems to have inspired so many of her stories and I’d love to see it in person. It’s worth noting that Hill Top works on a timed ticket admission system, as it’s a small property with limited space.
I think any trip to the Lake District has to feature getting out on the lakes at some point! Lake Windemere run cruises which last from 45 minutes to 3 hours, so you can judge it depending on the stamina and interest of your children. On a sunny day I think there’s no better way to see the Lakes.
But if your child’s stamina runs shorter, a good option might be the Ullswater Steamer, which runs a 25 minute cruise from Glenridding on the south of the lake to the Aria Force pier, where you can depart and head for a short walk to see the waterfall. We did this walk on our last visit and I remember it being a lovely walk up to see Aria Force, with the rumbling of the waterfall getting closer and closer. I do remember it not being particularly buggy friendly, so we’ll take the baby carrier for this one.
South Lakes Safari Zoo
A zoo is such a good option for children, and although South Lakes Safari Zoo isn’t a huge one, they offer animal feeding experiences and Little Keeper experiences to allow your children to get up close with some of the animals and learn a bit more about them.
Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway
We definitely love a steam train ride and if there’s one near where we’re staying it’s bound to go on the list. The Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway runs across the estuary and through the hills, so is a fabulous way to see the scenery without having to trek little legs up for miles.
Ok, we’re not going to be trekking up a mountain, but there are walks which are shorter, and pushchair friendly. Tarn Hows is a man-made beauty spot, which offers a beautiful 1.8 mile circular walk. You can find more details on the route here. Friar’s Crag is slightly longer walk at 2.4 miles, but offers some stunning views of the lakes and mountains.
Now although we love a National Trust, we don’t often do a National Trust house. The thought of my lively 4 year old in a room with loads of antiques fills me with horror, and when we tried it once, he whizzed us through at such a pace we hardly had time to blink. But Wray Castle is a bit different and far more suitable for children as all of the original contents have been removed. It’s a ‘proper’ castle – the kind that you think of from fairytales, with knights riding on white horses, and princesses with tall hats and tumbling hair, so it’s bound to get your children’s imagination going. They also have a Peter Rabbit adventure for children, which looks wonderful, as well as a snooker room, ‘playroom’ with chalkboards, and dressing up too.
Where To Stay
When it comes to our UK holidays, we usually opt for a cottage rather than a hotel, as we love the flexibility and privacy that it offers us. Original Cottages have some beautiful options that are perfectly placed for us to explore the Lake District. Wayside Cottage is in Ambleside, close to where we stayed on our last trip, and is perfectly located for the pretty towns of Ambleside and Windemere, as well as many of the activities I’ve planned here.
Further to the south of Lake Windemere is Woodside Cottage at Newby Bridge, another location we’ve stayed in before and loved. Check out that beautiful inglenook fireplace with wood burner – I can just see myself there cosying up with a nice glass of red once the kids are in bed!
Do you have any top tips for visiting the Lake District with kids? Do let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear.