The Best Things to do in and Around Cumbria as a Family
Cumbria is one of the most northerly counties in England and the most sparsely populated. It is dominated by rural countryside and specifically, the Lake District. If you are after a family adventure in the great outdoors then it is the perfect place to visit on holiday. Here is our guide to the best things to do in Cumbria and its surrounding areas as a family.
Explore Lake Windermere
Windermere is the crowning jewel of the Lake District. At more than 18km long, it is England’s largest lake and attracts thousands of visitors every year. There is an almost endless list of family activities which can be enjoyed around the lake. Boat hire is one of the most popular. There are a variety of lake cruises on offer, or you can hire canoes, kayaks, paddle boards and more.
If you prefer to keep your feet on dry land then why not explore some of the marked walking trails around the lake, which vary in length. For those of you with little legs in tow there are plenty of shorter options for children who may get tired on a longer walk. Similarly, there is plenty of great cycling terrain for a family bike ride around the lake and through the forests which dominate its shore.
Visit Lakeland Maze Farm Park
This one is sure to be a hit with younger children. Located near the village of Sedgwick, the highlight of Lakeland Maze Farm Park is the maize maze. Children can spend hours running through the field of corn and trying to find their way to the centre of the maze. It is important to note that this is a seasonal attraction as the maze is only open during the summer months, normally from around the end of May.
If you are visiting Cumbria at another time of year, there is plenty for kids to see and do. There’s an indoor soft play area, tractor rides and a host of friendly farm animals to meet. Pippin the goat, Doris the sheep, Star the horse and Fanta the alpaca are just some of the animals which can be fed and petted by families visiting the farm. There’s even a small campsite on the farm for visitors with a caravan or who want to camp here for a few days.
Entry to the farm (excluding campsite!) starts at £6.45 and varies depending on the season.
Delve into the history of Carlisle Castle
Carlisle Castle has stood tall and proud in the north of England for more than 900 years and only ceased to be used as a working fortress in more recent decades. There is plenty to keep older children and adults entertained, and lots of history to discover. Heir to the English throne, Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned in a tower here in 1568 and there is a fascinating exhibition which tells this tale, as well as others which have marked the long history of the castle. Visitors can also see the mysterious stone carvings uncovered in the castle keep and visit the former bedroom of King Richard III. Although geared towards older children, there is plenty to keep youngsters entertained too, with actors in period costume, games and interactive exhibits.
Standard admission, which gets visitors into most of the castle’s attractions, costs £11.30 for adults and £6.80 for children, or a family ticket for two adults and up to three children costs £29.40.
Walk with wolves at Predator Experience
For a truly once in a lifetime experience, Predator Experience in Grange-over-sands brings visitors face to face with a variety of animal species. Having featured on the TV show Countryfile, the experience has been gaining in popularity with older kids and adults alike. You need to be 16 to walk with wolves, for obvious reasons.
The experience (£95pp) involves walking through the Lake District countryside whilst holding the leash of an adult wolf, in a truly memorable experience. Younger children are welcome to join other activities at the centre, including hawk walks and eagle experiences, when families can come face to face with the most glorious of British birds, the golden eagle. Pre-booking is essential and the company meets all animal safety and welfare regulations.
Discover the Lake District Coast Aquarium
If you’re holidaying with your family in the Lake District then there will inevitably be at least one day where you wake up and it is pouring with rain, that’s the UK for you! If you need to escape the great outdoors for a day and keep the kids entertained then you can do far worse than visiting the Lake District Coast Aquarium in Maryport. The site is home to all manner of marine creatures, from sharks and rays to octopi and colourful clown fish, as seen in Finding Nemo. Children can gently touch the sharks and rays in the ray pool and discover species of the deep as they explore The Deep Reef. There are also daily educational talks and fish feeding.
Aside from the marine creatures, families can enjoy a game of mini golf and young children can explore the playpark.
Tickets cost £9.50 for adults, £6 for children aged over 3 and are free of charge for those aged under 3. There are also family discounts available.
Visiting Cumbria is all about getting outside and exploring the amazing landscape of the Lake District. Whether it’s sailing on Lake Windermere, watching captive golden eagles in flight or visiting historic castles, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained. And it’s always a good idea to have an indoor back-up plan too!