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Five family-friendly activities around Windermere in the Lake District

Five family-friendly activities around Windermere in the Lake District

Read our pick of the best options to keep children entertained in the heart of the Lake District

The World of Beatrix Potter

This interactive attraction in the heart of Bowness is great for small children. It isn’t big and won’t take more than an hour but the models are great, there is a charm about it.

Our favourite parts of the World of Beatrix Potter are Peter Rabbit’s Garden and the Virtual Walk section.

Peter Rabbit at the World of Beatrix Potter attraction in Windermere

The World of Beatrix Potter

Lakeland Motor Museum

This museum has only been open a few years on this site, a few miles from the foot of Windermere. It is really good with 30,000 exhibits including all types of car and motorcycle.

There is also a Bluebird exhibition next door – telling the story of the Campbell speed record-breaking family – which is fascinating. There is a good cafe on site. For more information visit the Lakeland Motor Museum website.

Aquarium and train

You can arrive at this spot at the southern tip of the lake via car or via boat with Windermere Lake Cruises. Lakes Aquarium gives a small but comprehensive look at all the creatures you can find in the Lakes – and some from further afield.

Our children were pleased to see crocodiles and monkeys as well as cod and jellyfish, during our last visit.

You can combine this with a train trip on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway – a fabulous steam engine which runs from March until October. A combination of lake cruise, aquarium and railway makes for a fun-filled day.

Fell Foot Park

This lovely National Trust spot at the foot of Windermere is one of our favourites.

There’s a good playground, benches for a scenic picnic, a cafe and boat hire if you want to get on the water. A really good, safe place to explore with children.

two boats on Windermere

Fell Foot Park

Walk above Windermere

The scramble up to Orrest Head is one of the most accessible Lakeland walks. At 783 feet, it is a good first summit for three and four-year-olds to conquer. In fact, I (possibly foolishly) managed this one at eight months pregnant.

Park on the main road above Bowness near to Windermere Railway Station. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the summit where you are rewarded with incredible views across Windermere.

What are your family’s favourite activities around Windermere? Please comment below, we would love to hear from you.

Five fun activities for children in and around Coniston in the beautiful Lake District

Five fun activities for children in and around Coniston in the beautiful Lake District

Coniston is great for families – do you agree with our five top places to take the children around this south Lakes village?

The Lake

Coniston Water, the fifth biggest stretch of water in the Lake District, has Grizedale Forest on one side and the Old Man of Coniston looming on the other.

There are pleasant coves and near the main boating centre, there are wide, stony patches you can explore, set up chairs or a rug and enjoy a picnic.

You can catch the rebuilt Victorian steam-powered yacht Gondola to get around the lake or opt for something more modern.

We hired a speedboat from Coniston Boating Centre – the speed limit is 10mph on the water – but in an hour you travel  all around the lake.

The Old Man of Coniston

You can’t miss this mountain as it towers above the village. It is a magnet for walkers but you can do at least part of it with young children.

We would consider driving up as far as you can. There is a car park part of the way up and you can walk from there.

The first part is fairly easy before it gets steeper towards the tarns. Even if you don’t make the top, the views are great.

The old man of Coniston mountain in the Lake District sunshine

The Old Man of Coniston

Grizedale Forest

On the eastern side of Coniston is this fabulous forest. Grizedale has lots of adventure activities including Go Ape, forest trails and mountain biking.

We hired two electric bikes from Grizedale Mountain Bikes. This may sound like a cheat, but we would recommend electric if you are pulling children behind as there are some steep climbs.

All four of us loved exploring the trails which carve their way through the forests. There is a large car park next to the refurbished visitor centre.

a bike rider in Grizedale Forest in the Lake District

Hire a bike to explore Grizedale Forest and its many miles of trails

Tarn Hows

This is the perfect lakeland walk for small children. Bought by Beatrix Potter in 1929 and handed to the National Trust, Tarn Hows is man-made but it feels like it has been there for centuries.

Walk down from the car park to the 1.5 mile flat circuit around the water.

The path around the tarn is gravelled and easy for all ages – don’t forget to stop at the far end for a picture.

There are toilets and sometimes an ice cream van at the car park.

Tarn Hows in the sunset

Tarn Hows is a family friendly walk for young children

The village

Coniston is a bustling, working village, not a picturesque tourist magnet like Ambleside or Hawkshead.

However there are good pubs – the Black Bull is really popular – plenty or restaurants and cafes plus food stores.

Coniston village with the old man mountain behind

Coniston is a working village but has plenty of pubs, restaurants and a playground

There is also a good playground on the road towards the lake.

We rented a cottage with Coppermines Cottages, they have plenty of choice around Coniston. Ours was a classic Lakeland cottage with traditional features in a good location.

Have we missed any of your family’s favourite places? We’d love to hear your recommendations for families in Coniston.

The five best Lake District family walks for children and toddlers

The five best Lake District family walks for children and toddlers

Our five favourite Lake District walks to keep children happy around Windermere, Coniston, Ullswater and Buttermere

Orrest Head

(90 minutes, suitable from aged three and over, no buggies)

You can walk this from the top of Bowness town centre near Booths supermarket, it starts across fields, then goes through woodland before a brief steeper bit as you reach the summit.

The reward is amazing views over Windermere and there are benches and space at the top.

You can descend along various different routes, some on roads. An ideal first ‘summit’ to do in the Lake District.

a man looks out over Windermere from Orrest Head

The view of Windermere from Orrest Head

Tarn Hows

(45 minutes, toddler friendly)

This is man-made but it looks as if it has been part of the Lake District for thousands of years.

There are glorious views around the lake, and the entire circuit is flat and gravelled, which makes it buggy-friendly and ideal for those learning to walk.

Youngsters will enjoy crossing the small bridge at the far end and sheep spotting.

There is a National Trust car park on site with toilets and normally an ice-cream or burger van too. As a favourite spot for families it does get busy in high season so try and go either early morning or late afternoon.

Tarn Hows in the sunset

Tarn Hows is a simple walk for young children

Aira Force 

(80-minute round trip, suited to children aged three and over, but keep children close as there are steep drops)

Just above the Western edge of Ullswater is the most famous waterfall in the Lakes.

The walk starts at a large car park with visitor centre, you go up through woodland, before passing open fields and then turning right to the falls.

Pause on the bridge for pictures before heading back down. Beware – the path is very open in places with steep drops so you need to keep an eye on little ones at all times.

Stop near the end to dip a toe in the babbling river or tackle some stepping stones before returning through woodland to the car park.

a racing steam near Aira Force in the Lake District

The streams and woodland of Aira Force

Howtown

(Two-hour round trip, suitable from aged four and above)

Catch the Ullswater steamer to Howtown on the sparsely populated Eastern edge of the lake.

Turn right at the pier, follow the signs around the lake – there is a nice stony beach near the start – and then head up.

The wide fields narrow to a small rocky path as you climb up. It isn’t steep but some parts are tight and there are drops, then skirt the lake around Hallin Fell.

There are great picnic spots with amazing lake views and a fun section of exposed sandstone which children can clamber on.

You can either turn back at the sandstone for a shorter walk or head right the way around Hallin Fell and back to Howtown.

There is a lovely tea room in the small town – but don’t forget to check the steamer timetable to catch your boat back.

Ullswater on a sunny day

Enjoy great views of Ullswater on this walk

Buttermere

(Two-hour round trip, suitable from aged four and above)

In the less visited and harder to reach Western Lakes lies Buttermere.

It is a spectacular spot for a gentle round-the-lake stroll with amazing views. You can park in the village and follow the footpath to the lake.

Head for the western shore, first through Burtness Wood, which is the easiest part of the walk and gives you the chance to stop at the shore for a picnic or paddle.

When you reach the far end you can either turn back through the wood or continue around the entire lake, which is about a four mile walk.

If you’re doing the entire circuit you will have to walk along the road for a short distance and then the shore path is quite rough but there is a fun tunnel towards the end on the eastern shore which does get quite dark.

Honister Pass with a view of Buttermere

Buttermere is below the Honister Pass in the quieter Western Lakes

Do you agree with our choices? What are your family’s favourite walks? Comment below, we would love to hear from you.

Ullswater – find out what there is for children at this quiet, family-friendly Lake District spot

Ullswater – find out what there is for children at this quiet, family-friendly Lake District spot

We look at the activities children can enjoy around Ullswater – waterfalls, steamers and stately homes

The lake

The second biggest lake in the Lake District, Ullswater benefits from the dramatic peaks of Helvellyn soaring above its eastern edge.

Here there aren’t the huge crowds which descend on Windermere, which means quiet coves can be found on both east and west sides.

There are plenty of stony shorelines and woods to play in. You can hire boats to enjoy the water or just picnic and take in the view.

A view through the trees of the lake, Ullswater

Ullswater

Rheged

This is your best rainy day option near Ullswater. You can choose from pottery painting, soft play and an outdoor playground.

There is also a cinema, arts shows and restaurants. Watch out for temporary exhibitions, there was a brilliant Lego one when we visited. For more information visit the Rheged website.

Aira Force

This spectacular waterfall is a must-see. The walk up has some steep drops so keep an eye – and a hand – on small children.

You can walk up from the National Trust car park, through the woods, to the waterfall and down the other side in around an hour.

At the end there’s a babbling river to explore and nice park to play in. For more info visit National Trust Aira Force.

a racing steam near Aira Force in the Lake District

The streams and woodland of Aira Force

Askham Hall

The nature trail at this small stately home is brilliant for little ones. The trail winds through gorgeous gardens, with farm animals to see.

At the end there is a play area, cafe with a pizza oven and delicious cakes. A perfect place to spend a few hours. For more information visit the Askham Hall website.

Ullswater Steamers

These traditional boats are the best way around the area.

They sail between Glenridding in the south and Pooley Bridge in the north with a stop at Howtown in the middle of the lake.

We got off at Howtown to take a walk up Hallin Fell which was a memorable picnic spot.

Tickets and information on the Ullswater Steamers website.

An Ullswater steamer on the lake

The steamers are the best way to travel around Ullswater

Have we missed out any of your family’s favourite activities around Ullswater, do let us know in the comments below.

Is peaceful Ullswater a hit for a family holiday – we visit this beautiful Lake District spot to find out.

Is peaceful Ullswater a hit for a family holiday – we visit this beautiful Lake District spot to find out.

We review The Quiet Site at Ullswater in Cumbria.

I have a real soft spot for the Lake District. We lived here for two blissful years and it was on the shores of one of its more remote and beautiful lakes where my husband proposed.

It is the quieter spots which fill me most with joy. Like Ullswater, which despite being the area’s second biggest lake, attracts nowhere near the hordes which flock to its largest, Windermere.

As well as being more peaceful, it’s arguably more breathtaking – framed by peaks which include Helvellyn.

A view through the trees of the lake, Ullswater

Ullswater

And at only 10 minutes from the M6, it couldn’t be easier to reach.

The Quiet Site

Our accommodation in this part of Cumbria reflects our tranquil surroundings – The Quiet Site is a campsite half way up the western side of Ullswater.

Various levels of luxury are catered for from bring-your-own tent to a luxury cottage.

Their latest option are intriguing hobbit holes – underground spaces four times bigger than their insulated wooden camping pods – built into the side of a hill.

The entrance to a hobbit hole at The Quiet Site

A hobbit hole

Camping pods at The Quiet Site

Camping pods at The Quiet Site

But we are firmly above ground – our home for three nights is a spacious three-bedroom cottage.

This former smithy is full of character, with high ceilings, exposed beams and equipped with everything we could need. Plus extras like a playhouse, toys, books and shelves groaning with children’s DVDs.

And I don’t know who was happiest about the giant trampoline in the garden – but it started the holiday on a high for us all.

Two children play on the trampoline in the garden of the cottage at The Quiet Site at Ullswater

Enjoying the trampoline in the garden of our cottage

The site also has a playground and an indoor soft play area, conveniently adjoined to the bar in a cosy barn.

I can see why The Quiet Site was recently the top-rated holiday and glamping park on Tripadviser out of 190 listed in the Lake District.

We crammed lots into this summer break – around the lake and on it.

Surrounding area

Ullswater Steamers, which sail between Glenridding in the south and Pooley Bridge in the north, are the popular mode of transport in these parts.

We caught one to Howtown, in the middle, where we climbed part of Hallin Fell and enjoyed a memorable picnic with the lake glistening in the sunshine below.

A steamer on the lake at Ullswater

Ullswater Steamers are a familiar site on the lake

You don’t need to be an expert map reader to find a rewarding spot by the lake but tackling the directions on the nature trail at Askham Hall Gardens, east of Pooley Bridge, tested and thrilled our son and daughter.

Askham Hall and part of the garden

Askham Hall

The trail winds through gorgeous gardens, with farm animals at the end. Completion brings you to a play area, plus a cafe with a pizza oven and delicious cakes. All the ingredients for a perfect few hours for us.

Other family-friendly trips include the wonderful waterfall Aira Force.

I kept a firm hold of our children by some steep drops on the woodland walk up but they were both suitably impressed by the spectacular sights and sounds.

We were lucky with the weather but if you need undercover fun, head to Rheged. Sadly, the fabulous Lego exhibition we enjoyed was only temporary but there is plenty of permanent entertainment here for little ones. Choose from pottery painting, soft play and an outdoor playground.

In conclusion

Throughout our stay at Ullswater, we found plenty of quiet coves with flat water ready to be disturbed by children’s stones. They were also the perfect settings for picnics, making up adventures and taking in the glorious views.

William Wordsworth was inspired to write the poem Daffodils after seeing the flowers growing on the shores of Ullswater.

“It is the happiest combination of beauty and grandeur, which any of the lakes affords,” he said.

And I may just agree.

For a more detailed review on The Quiet Site, see here.

*For more ideas, see Cumbria’s official tourist board website.

Accommodation: We stayed as guests of The Quiet Site, Ullswater, for the purposes of this review. All opinions are our own.

An idyllic Lake District location for families. We review the Quiet Site near Ullswater

An idyllic Lake District location for families. We review the Quiet Site near Ullswater

A family-friendly campsite in the Lakes with all types of accommodation from tents to cottages and even hobbit holes

The location

The Quiet Site is about a mile or so above Ullswater on a small road.

This large campsite has views across the fields, with some glimpses of the lake from certain points.

It is laid out around converted farm houses with plenty of land for playing on.

Accommodation choice

You can choose almost any sort of accommodation here. From pitching your own tent right through to large holiday cottages.

There’s also glamping options with hobbit holes (wooden buildings dug into the side of a fell), pods and bell tents. There are static holiday homes to buy as well.

A hobbit hole accommodation at the Quiet Site in the Lake District

A hobbit hole

We stayed in one of the two 16th century cottages, which was huge.

It had a large lounge, three good sized bedrooms and a well-equipped kitchen. There was also a decent sized garden shared with the adjoining cottage.

children on a trampoline outside a cottage

This cottage is one of the options

The facilities

There is a pub on site, the Quiet Bar, which is deliberately rustic having changed little since 1963.

It is cosy and homely with a log fire and pool table.

Elsewhere the site has cooking facilities, a small shop for food and drinks and there’s often a wagon selling sausage and mash in the evening.

The nearest restaurants are about a mile away.

Child-friendly

Little ones are well catered for, our holiday cottage had a brilliant trampoline, which we all tried out!

There was also a playhouse in the garden and plenty of DVDs and games in the house.

The main site has a large playground with swings, climbing equipment, a play fort and space to run around.

Adjoining The Quiet Bar is a soft play area, which is a useful rainy day distraction.

The walks

There are plenty of options from an eight-mile trek to Aira Force and back, through to a couple of miles around Little Mell Fell, which sits right above the site.

There are maps and guides on the website and the owners can help you when you arrive to point you in the right direction.

We went far enough with our two children to take in the wonderful scenery and feel like we were in the great outdoors.

a view of Ullswater through the trees

There are walks from the site with views of Ullswater

In conclusion

A family-friendly, award-winning option with accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.

For a review of the full holiday, see here.

Visit the Quiet Site website for more information and rates.

(We stayed as guests of the site for the purpose of this review. All views are our own).