The Receptionists at Waterhead are frequently asked “where are the best places to go in the area with children”? We asked Amelia, a regular guest at Waterhead and her parents to give us their Top 10 …
1. Boat Cruise to Bowness and Lakeside
We usually leave the car and take Windermere Lake Cruises Freedom of the Lake family ticket. This gives a full 24 hours to explore the UK’s longest lake. Right in the heart of some beautiful scenery it’s also an exciting day out for the children – especially as we can stop off at various places along the way including Lakes Aquarium and Brockhole.
2. Lakes Aquarium
Otters, sharks, rays, diving ducks and marmoset monkeys are just some of the species on show. There’s lots to see and to learn. ‘Set off from a Lake District mountain top and follow the tranquil water flow to find jumping trout and river bank creatures. Leap over the paddy fields to Asia, homeland of the mischievous otters’. Amelia’s favourite part is the underwater tunnel where the diving ducks make her giggle.
Don’t miss the worlds first virtual dive bell where you can discover just how fast a crocodile can swim!
3. Brockhole Lake District Visitor Centre
Set in beautiful gardens, there’s something for everyone at Brockhole, just a few minutes away from Low Wood Bay and Waterhead. Amelia uses up most of her energy on the fantastic adventure playground and when she’s a bit older she will finally have her wish to try the Treetop Trek. Until then, and for those 3 years and over, there is the option of the Treetop Nets – trampoline and tunnel heaven! Rainy days there’s also an indoor soft play and creativity space.
Throughout the holidays and most weekends there are also events like birdwatching or raft building and regular ‘welly’ walks.
4. Ambleside Climbing Wall
We love this as a wet day alternative. Beginners of all ages can ‘have a go as’ the team there are passionate about making climbing accessible to all. There’s tuition and supervision from qualified instructors that help the children reach their own individual goal. There’s such a sense of achievement, sometimes having to overcome a little anxiety or fear of heights. The 35ft lead wall is a replica of a real crag taken from a mould of natural limestone.
5. Lakeland Motor Museum
This is where all the family like to pick our personal favourite – with over 30,000 exhibits it’s no mean feat! The collection is a real testament to UK motoring heritage with cars spanning over a manufacturing period of 100 years. There’s even a 1920s garage with a collection of old spanners, trolley jacks and puncture repair equipment. A real feature is the Campbell Bluebird Exhibition celebrating the 21 world land and water speed records that Malcolm and Donald Campbell secured in their series of cars and boats. There’s a full sized replica of the 1935 Bluebird car, the 1939 boat and 1976 jet hydroplane. It’s not all about cars though and there are some really interesting exhibitions featuring The Land Girls, Fashion through the ages, ‘how it used to be’ shop windows as well as information on local history.
6. South Lakes Safari Zoo
This is a must-visit as a fantastic family day out with a huge collection of animals – kangaroos, monkeys and gibbons, lemurs, giraffes, hippopotamus, wolves, sloths, donkeys, reindeer, chipmunks, a giant anteater as well as a whole flock of different birds and reptiles galore. Feeding time for the big cats is a real spectacle and worth timing your visit around.
7. The Puzzling Place
Situated in Keswick town centre, The Puzzling Place is a space full of optical illusions, from the Anti-Gravity rooms to the Hologram Gallery and Eyelusions Exhibitions. This appeals to all ages but remember they are illusions – you will not actually be able to float in the anti-gravity room! There’s also a Puzzle Area which is free to enter and where you can have a go at solving puzzles and brain teasers. This is fun for all the family!
8. Lakeland Maze and Farm Park
Lakeland Maze Farm Park is an award winning visitor attraction. The maize is grown throughout the spring months and opens in July. Each year they design a different layout keeping it a challenge to returning visitors. There’s also a Mini Maize Maze especially for younger visitors which doesn’t take too long to complete. The farm park is open at weekends from Easter until September. Throughout the day there are tractor rides around the farm and chances to meet and feed the animals in the pet barn and out on the farm. Raines Hall Farm is a working farm, so well as cattle, sheep and various breeds of pig, there are ferrets, llamas, alpacas, with their lovely soft coats, pygmy and angora goats, and horses. Oh, and let’s not forget Winston the donkey!
9. Crafty Monkeys
Really friendly and great all-weather day out! Anybody can produce their own work of art here from painting pots and other items, clay prints, mosaics or by having a go on a potter’s wheel. Our favourite is decopatch where you choose your shape – from wood, paper mache or pottery – and cover in special paper and glue. The results are so pretty but be warned – it’s addictive! A great way to keep little people occupied.
10. Low Wood Watersports Centre
You may have to wait until the weather is a little bit warmer for this one. From April through to October it is possible to hire motor and rowing boats from Low Wood Watersports Centre which will allow you as a family to explore Windermere at your own pace, stopping off at public jetties along the eastern shore for lunch or a cuppa. For the more adventurous there’s waterskiing, wakeboarding, dinghy and keelboat sailing as well as canoeing and kayaking. Even better, guests at Waterhead receive a 10% discount!
These are just a few of our favourite places to go but there are many more. It’s easy to see why we love the Lake District. I hope you get to enjoy your stay.