The top spring family days out in the Lake District
PUBLISHED: 13:00 09 March 2015 | UPDATED: 22:14 11 February 2018
Spring has sprung, so it's time to make the most of the beautiful Lakeland scenery. Here's our top ideas for days out this spring, whether you want to pull on your walking boots or take a day out with the children
BEST FOOT FORWARD
Enjoy the bracing air and stunning scenery of the Lake District from a different angle – on horseback. Lakeland Pony Trekking at Limefill Park, Troutbeck, offers a variety of full and half day pony treks for all ages. For a twist on this look into Lakeland Llama Treks based between Keswick and Penrith. You don’t actually ride the llama, of course, but as great walking companions they are likely to become your new four-legged best friend. Alternatively, you could think big and go trekking along the spectacular coast on a beautiful Clydesdale at Cumbrian Heavy Horses of Millom.
FUN IN THE FOREST
Whinlatter Forest, just west of Keswick is England’s only true mountain forest and is a great day out for all the family. Not only does the forest have walking trails of varying lengths for all abilities with beautiful views across Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwent Water, Skiddaw, Grisedale Pike and Helvellyn, but it’s also home to a range of wonderful wildlife including red squirrels, woodland birds and deer. More stunning is the Lake District Osprey Project which runs between April and September. If you’re looking for more adventure there’s mountain bike trails or you can swing through the trees on the country’s highest Go-Ape course. Children of all ages will love the new Whinlatter WildPlay trail with nine different play areas taking you on a journey through the trees and including a climbing wall, water features, giant swings and a secret path.
SAIL OF THE CENTURY
What better way to make the best of the Lakeland scenery than by taking a trip on one of the iconic lakes and then heading off on a bracing hike?
Windermere Cruises, Ullswater Steamers and Steam Yacht Gondola on Coniston all spring to mind as great options where you can mix sailing with walking and late soak up some history with a visit to Ruskin’s house, Brantwood. All three boating companies have special trips and cruises on offer so keep up-to-date with what’s happening through their individual websites.
RELAXING IN THE PARK
As the sun starts to shine more brightly this spring head out to Fell Foot Park at Newby Bridge. With stunning mountain views, Fell Foot Park, situated at the southern tip of Lake Windermere is a great family friendly location to play, explore and relax with sweeping lawns perfect for picnics, games and leisurely walks and easy lake access so you can paddle, swim or hire a rowing boat or kayak. Let children loose on the adventure playground and if you haven’t been organised enough to take a picnic enjoy a homemade cake and cup of tea in the boathouse café.
Pack your binoculars and head to South Walney Nature Reserve, the southern tip of a shingle lying at the end of the Furness Penisula. During the medieval period it was farmed by the monks of Furness Abbey, then in the 19th and 20th centuries salt, sand and gravel were extracted leaving large lagoons.
Every spring you can see huge numbers of lesser black backed and herring gulls as well as other breeding birds including eider duck, greater black backed gull, shelduck, oystercatcher, mallard, moorhen and coot.
LAKELAND IN MINIATURE
Feel like a giant and see the stunning architecture Lakeland has to offer in one go with a visit to Lakeland Miniature Village in Flookburgh. Kids and adults alike will love the village which features more than 100 miniature buildings in Coniston slate depicting Cumbrian classics including
Hill Top, the home of Beatrix Potter as well as a replica of Slater’s Bridge, all lovingly handmade by Edward Robinson.
A RACEY DAY OUT
Cartmel Racecourse is probably the most picturesque in the country and an ideal family friendly day out.
With the picture-postcard-pretty village on one side and the lush green hills and forest on the other it certainly makes the most of the Lakeland scenery. Traditionally only hosting six race meetings each year, this has been expanded in 2012 for a new two-day festival in July. The May Bank Holiday meeting has also slipped into June coinciding with the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. Pick from day or evening meetings and as well as the thrill of the races enjoy a funfair and stalls as well as taking in the attractions in the village with visits to the Priory and of course the sticky toffee pudding shop. Bring picnics and barbecues for a thoroughly exciting day in the country.
CLIMB A MOUNTAIN
Celebrate Lakeland’s mountain climbing fame at Keswick Mountain Festival, (May 16-20) an action-packed five day festival celebrating the best the great outdoors has to offer. Activities include sporting competitions, adventure challenges and great inspirational speakers including Monty Halls, Helen Skelton, Sir Chris Bonington, Cameron McNeish and Mick Fowler. The festival village in Keswick has fantastic stalls, have-a-go-sessions and tasty food and drink, surrounded by the classic summits of Catbells and Skiddaw. It’s an ideal place to unwind after a day on the fells or watch the sporting events take place.
FULL STEAM AHEAD
Enjoy the Lakeland scenery in more leisurely style by taking a trip on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway which travels through some stunning settings in the Western Lake District including woodlands and tidal marshes along the way from its beginnings at Ravenglass to the new station and visitor centre at Dalegarth. There’s a number of ‘request’ stops along the way as well as other stations so it’s a great option for walkers or visitors who want to get around without a car. For a different steam experience try the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway in the Leven Valley where trips on the line can be mixed with lake cruises.
WET AND WILD ADVENTURE
If you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous than sitting back on a cruise enjoying the scenery, then why not head to Low Wood Watersports Centre on Windermere? The centre offers instruction in thrilling water sports including dinghy and keelboat sailing, kayaking, waterskiing, wakeboarding and power boating or hire motor boats, rowing boats, sailing dinghies and keelboats and create your own adventure.
The former home of John Ruskin. Brantwood is considered one of the most beautifully situated house in the Lake District.. Brantwood is both a treasure house of historical importance and a lively centre of contemporary arts and the environment, welcoming in the region of 30,000 visitors a year.
Displays and activities in the house, gardens and estate reflect the wealth of cultural associations associated with Ruskin’s legacy – from the Pre Raphaelites and Arts and Crafts Movement to the founding of the National Trust and the Welfare State.
With its many contemporary exhibitions, concerts, courses and special events, together with its education work in the wider community, Brantwood continues in the Ruskin tradition today.
Ruskin developed an eccentric, often mystical, attitude to plants which is nowhere more distinctive than in his interpretation of thistles and other spiky plants. This forms part of an exhibition currently being staged at the house