There's so much to see and do in Cumbria
and the Lake District, whatever the weather. Have a browse of the
list of ideas below or visit the
special interests section of our site if you are looking for
Blackwell is one of Britain's finest houses from the turn of the last century. Designed by M.H. Baillie Scott, Blackwell was built between 1898 and 1900 as a holiday retreat for Sir Edward Holt, a wealthy Manchester brewery owner. The house survives in a truly remarkable state of preservation retaining almost all of its original decorative features, including the rare and fragile hessian wall-hangings in the dining room. One of the real joys of Blackwell lies in its wealth of detail, from the leaf-shaped door handles and curious window catches to spectacular plasterwork, stained glass and carved wooden panelling.
Brantwood offers a fascinating insight into the world of John Ruskin - one of the most important figures of the 19th Century - and the last 28 years of his life spent in the Lakes. Filled with many fine paintings, beautiful furniture and Ruskin's personal treasures, the house retains the character of its famous resident. Visitors are free to explore therooms and house stewards are on hand to answer questions. There is also a range of quizzes and activities for children to enjoy.
Brockhole is an Edwardian house beautifully situated on the shores of Windermere; enjoy extensive landscaped gardens, lake cruises, adventure playground, guided walks and activities. There are two floors of exciting interactive exhibitions; introducing the National Park, the story of how the National Park evolved; the people who have shaped the landscape and the special qualities which make the Lake District landscape such an important part of our national heritage. There is also a gift shop, information centre, film theatre and café with terrace seating.
Castlerigg Stone Circle
Castlerigg Stone Circle, on the outskirts of Keswick, is very easily accessible. For this reason, and also due to its stunning beauty, it’s also the most visited stone circle in Cumbria. Castlerigg is one of the first stone circles to have been built in Britain, dating from around 3000 BC. Various theories have been put forward as to the circle’s purpose, ranging from a burial site to an astronomical observatory. What is for certain is that, despite its popularity, this is a remarkable place of peace and tranquillity.
These solar-electric launches provide a low-pollution alternative for the discerning visitor. Coniston Launch serves 7 jetties around Coniston Water offering a great service to walkers, cyclists, those visiting Brantwood or just requiring a gentle cruise in good company. They also run special interest cruises including “Swallows & Amazons” and “Campbell’s on Coniston”. Private charter is available for groups and you can combine this with a visit to Brantwood.
Cumberland Pencil Museum
The Cumberland Pencil Museum is the only attraction in the world devoted exclusively to the rich and fascinating history of the pencil. From the discovery of graphite in the Borrowdale Valley in the early 1500s to the formation of the Cumberland Pencil Company in 1832, the museum charts the development of the humble pencil through the centuries. See the world's largest coloured pencil, marvel at the James Bond style pencil, and travel along the quiz trails and find out how the lead gets inside a pencil.
Dove Cottage & the Wordsworth Museum
The Wordsworth Trust was founded in 1891, to secure Dove Cottage 'for eternal possessions of all those who loved English poetry all over the world'. Today, visitors experience the tranquillity of a site of outstanding beauty in the heart of the Lake District. As well as Dove Cottage - home to Wordsworth when he wrote his greatest poetry - the Wordsworth Museum tells the fascinating story of the poet and his circle, their life and their work.
Ducky's Park Farm
A warm welcome awaits you at Ducky's Park Farm Visitor Centre. The attraction has created a friendly, safe environment for families and schools to enjoy whilst learning about animal care and farming methods. Visitors can have close contact with a large variety of animals, with special times set aside to meet the residents. There is plenty to do whatever the weather - including a huge indoor play-frame with separate toddlers' area - so don't let the rain keep you away!
Greenlands Farm Village
Greenlands is a truly hands-on experience with plenty to learn about. And it's not just for the kids, the adults will enjoy this as well. You can meet Red and Blue, their Shetland ponies, hold a pygmy goat kid or watch the baby piglets annoying their Mum. With plenty to see under cover, this open farm can be enjoyed come rain or shine. Also on site is a farm shop and café.
The lakes of the world, and the creatures inhabiting them, are the central focus of the Lakes Aquarium, an award-winning, all weather attraction taking visitors on a unique round-the-world journey over, under and around water. This exciting globetrotting adventure begins the minute you set off, with gilled, colourful, furry and even menacing creatures awaiting your arrival. Wend your way through zones representing charming Asia, the tropical Americas, rainforest, darkest Africa, tranquil Windermere and Morecambe Bay.
Set in an unusual and inspiring building, Rheged is a place to relax, explore and take in the spirit of Cumbria. Europe’s largest grass-covered building is owned and run by people who are devoted to this area and is the essence of Cumbria’s landscape, arts, crafts and produce. There is free parking and free entry to the building. One of the main attractions includes movies shown on a cinema screen the size of six double decker buses!
Nestling between the beautiful fells, Lake Windermere and Rydal Water lies the 'most beloved' home of William Wordsworth from 1813 - 1850. Now the home of his direct descendants visitors can wander through the house and the extensive gardens landscaped by the poet. 'Nowhere on earth have I ever seen a spot of more perfect and enjoyable beauty' wrote Dr Thomas Arnold. A souvenir shop offers a variety of books and gifts.
South Lakes Wild Animal Park
Head for the South Lakes Wild Animal Park for the ulimate interactive animal experience. Here you can watch tigers climb 20 feet for their dinner - a unique experience in Europe! You can also meet free-roaming animals in their natural environments and hand feed giraffes and penguins. There is also a walk-through indoor tropical house. South Lakes Wild Animal Park is an active conservation park with partnerships all over the world to save animals and their habitats.
Stott Park Bobbin Mill
Stott Park Bobbin Mill was built in 1835 but ceased its commerical operations in 1971. It has been preseved as it was in Victorian times. Here you can learn about the machinery, the techniques that were used, and much more. You can see a demonstration of how bobbins were made and learn about their uses that went beyond just supplying the Lancashire cotton trade. A tour of the mill lasts approximately 45 minutes, and there are display boards in out-buildings that can be viewed at your leisure. There is also a small shop on the site.
Ullswater Steamers have enjoyed over 150 years of sailing on one of England's most beautiful lakes. Referred to as the 'Dark Lake' in Arthurian legend, you can set sail on Ullswater on a voyage of discovery. For centuries this landscape has influenced famous poets and writers such as William Wordsworth. It is a valley with a rich biodiversity of wildlife whose ancient woodlands and fells provide breeding habitats for some of our rare species such as red deer, red squirrels and goosanders. The steamers create the perfect opportunity to combine a cruise with some of the most famous and spectacular countryside in the Lake District.
Windermere Lake Cruises
Enjoy some of the Lake District’s most beautiful scenery courtesy of Windermere Lake Cruises. It takes three hours to sail around the whole lake. A freedom ticket allows unlimited travel on all scheduled launch and steamer services sailing between Bowness, Ambleside and Lakeside, and on island cruises from Bowness, circular cruises from Lakeside, the Fell Foot ferry and the Brockhole service from Ambleside. Individual and family tickets are available.
World of Beatrix Potter Attraction
In an indoor re-creation of the Lakeland countryside, discover Peter Rabbit™ eating radishes in Mr. McGregor’s garden; see Jemima Puddle-duck™ amongst the foxgloves; and Mrs. Tiggy-winkle, the washerwoman, bustling about in her kitchen - the Lakeland tales of Beatrix Potter brought lovingly to life. The World of Beatrix Potter™ is an essential part of any Lake District holiday. Where else can you wander past Mr Jeremy Fisher’s pond and walk right through Squirrel Nutkin’s old oak tree?
And let's not forget the many natural
attractions of the Lake District!
Helvellyn is one of the Lake District's most famous peaks and the third highest in the Lake District. It is popular with walkers and can be tackled from a variety of different routes. Most popular are ascents from Glenridding, Patterdale and Thirlmere to the west. Approaching from the east presents the challenge of Striding Edge, a very thin ridge where great care must be taken. Helvellyn was climbed regularly by the poet William Wordsworth who frequently wrote about the mountain.
Scafell Pike is the highest point in England and therefore very popular with walkers. It is 3,210 feet high - just 48 feet above the neighbouring summit of Scafell, although the broken crags of Broad Stand prevent any direct route between the two. There are many routes to the top, all of which must be treated with respect. The mountains can be very treacherous in poor visibility or bad weather.
Skiddaw is a member of that exclusive club of Lake District peaks that are higher than 3000 feet. Of those four, Skiddaw is arguably the easiest to climb; it towers over the popular tourist town of Keswick and a number of routes make the summit easily reachable within a couple of hours. The view from the top is spectacular and varied, from the Pennines to the east, Irish Sea and the Isle of Man to the west, Solway Firth to the north and the heart of the Lake District fells to the south. Given its nearness to Keswick, Skiddaw’s only fault is that it can sometimes get crowded. This is one to avoid on a bank holiday Monday.