20 great Lakeland days out

Predator Experience - walking with wolves. Photo: Darren Andrews

Predator Experience - walking with wolves. Photo: Darren Andrews - Credit: Darren Andrews

Explore Lakeland with our suggestions for places to go and things to do - some them a little off the beaten track.

Cumbrian Heavy Horses

Cumbrian Heavy Horses - Credit: Darren Andrews

Cumbrian Heavy Horses

You might need a head for heights but these gentle giants, the Clydesdale, Shire and Ardennes breeds, are a delight to ride and they are in the wonderful setting of the Whicham Valley.

This family-run business claims to be the only one of its type with a professional group of dedicated experts to ensure you have an outstanding day horse-riding.

Cumbrian Heavy Horses, Millom, LA18 5LY. cumbrianheavyhorses.com

Honister Mountain Adventure

Honister Mountain Adventure - Credit: Darren Andrews

Honister Mountain Adventure

This is where they produce beautiful green Westmorland slate, but it’s also once of the most exciting venues for thrill seekers following in the footsteps of the original mineworkers’ route to the top of the mountain.

This is known as the Via Ferrata Classic but there are more extreme routes available – all guided by experts with safety in mind. Don’t miss the Infinity Bridge 2,000 feet above the valley!

Honister Mountain Adventure, Honister Pass, Borrowdale, CA12 5XN. honister.com

Kong adventure

Kong adventure - Credit: Darren Andrews

Kong Adventure

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Learn the skills and techniques to either help you start climbing independently, refresh your memory or enjoy an hour’s taster at the centre’s climbing wall.

If you want to be in the great outdoors, how about half a day of ghyll scrambling? There are also guided mountain walks and some classic rock climbing.

Kong Adventure, Keswick, CA12 5EZ. kongadventure.com

Blencathra is a spectacular backdrop to Rookin House Lakeland Activities. Photo: Rob McEwen

Blencathra is a spectacular backdrop to Rookin House Lakeland Activities. Photo: Rob McEwen - Credit: Archant

Rookin House Lakeland Activities

The focus is on fun and safety at this centre, which has been family-run for the last 20 years.

With Blencathra as a spectacular backdrop, experience a wide range of fun activities from horse riding to quad biking to ‘human bowling’ plus there are the Madtrax all-terrain vehicles to get the adrenaline pumping.

Rookin House Lakeland Activities, Troutbeck, CA11 0SS. rookinhouse.co.uk

The Predator Experience in Ayside

The Predator Experience in Ayside - Credit: Archant

Predator Experience

Just by Humphrey Head, where the last wild wolf in England was killed in the 14th century, their descendents are back and this time you can go walking with them.

Expert handlers are with you every step of the way to help you understand these beautiful creatures. There are several other experiences, some involving birds of prey.

Predator Experience, Ayside, Cartmel, LA11 6HY. predatorexperience.co.uk

Muncaster Castle

Muncaster Castle - Credit: Archant

Muncaster Castle

The historic haunted castle, still a lived-in family home after nine centuries is set in 77 acres of woodland and gardens which have a mix of cultivated areas, lawns and woodlands as well as play areas.

The gardens are in full bloom around now and offer spectacular colourful displays. Muncaster is also home to the Hawk and Owl Centre which has a collection of birds and hosts bird of prey flying displays.

Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, CA18 1RQ. muncaster.co.uk

The River Esk by James Park

The River Esk by James Park - Credit: Archant

Eskdale Mill

One of the oldest water powered mills in England, Eskdale Mill is the last remaining working mill in the Lake District. The mill’s recorded history starts in 1294 with an entry in estate records but it may have been operating for many hundreds of years before then.

The Grade Two listed mill is now open from Easter and houses unique machinery installed in the 1700s.

Eskdale Mill, Boot, CA19 1TG. eskdalemill.co.uk

Lakeland Motor Museum

Lakeland Motor Museum - Credit: Archant

Lakeland Motor Museum

More than 30,000 exhibits from all shapes and sizes of push bike to modern cars show how road transport has evolved over the last century. The museum collection has been amassed over 50 years and is now housed in a converted mill close to Windermere.

Open every day except Christmas Day, the museum offers joint tickets with other nearby attractions.

Lakeland Motor Museum, Backbarrow, LA12 8TA. lakelandmotormuseum.co.uk

Levens Hall Topiary by Karol Gajewski

Levens Hall Topiary by Karol Gajewski - Credit: Archant

Levens Hall

It is most famous for its stunning displays of ancient topiary, glorious parkland and acres of gardens – parts of which have remained largely unchanged since they were laid out in the 1690s – but the inside of the hall is well worth a visit, too.

The house has one of the best preserved Elizabethan interiors in the UK with original oak panelling, rich leather wall coverings and ornate plasterwork. The ten acres of grounds are also home to a herd of Norwegian Black Fallow Deer and the distinctive Bagot goats.

Levens Hall, Kendal, LA8 0PD. levenshall.co.uk

Piel Island from South Walney by Rob Mcewen

Piel Island from South Walney by Rob Mcewen - Credit: Archant

South Walney Nature Reserve

Visit the only grey seal colony in Cumbria and enjoy stunning views across Morecambe Bay at this Cumbria Wildlife Trust reserve.

The shingle island is also a great place for birdwatching, with waymarked trails from which you may spot migrating birds and wildflowers. The reserve is open daily from 10am and there is a charge for non-members of the Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

South Walney Nature Reserve, Walney Island. cumbriawildlifetrust.org.uk/reserves/south-walney

Go Ape at Grizedale Forest

Go Ape at Grizedale Forest - Credit: n/a

Go Ape, Grizedale and Whinlatter

If swinging from tree to tree and hurling yourself down zip wires sounds like fun, the Go Ape in Grizedale Forest and Whinlatter Forest will be right up your street. Grizedale, in the south of the Lake District National Park, has a Zip Trekking Adventure with a network of seven tandem zip lines between the tall Douglas Firs as well as Tarzan swings and rope ladders. There’s also a special course for younger ones and a forest segway experience.

At Whinlatter, Go Ape’s highest course at 1043ft above sea level, you can dash between the foliage in this European Larch forest or do the forest segway taking in views of Bassenthwaite, Skiddaw and Derwentwater.

Grizedale Forest Park, near Hawkshead and Whinlatter Forest Park, Keswick. goape.co.uk

Holehird gardens Photo: John Lenehan

Holehird gardens Photo: John Lenehan - Credit: John lenehan

Holehird Gardens

Owned by the dedicated Lakeland Horticultural Society, Holehird has much to offer. As well as stunning views over Windermere, volunteers have created a beautiful setting with a walled garden, an extensive collection of rhododendrons, hydrangeas and alpines as well as four National Plant Collections.

The 12 acre hillside gardens, reputed to be among the finest in England are unique in being maintained entirely by volunteers and supported by voluntary donations. There is plenty of variety in a place that has been expertly cultivated.

Patterdale Road, Windermere, LA23 1NP. holehirdgardens.org.uk

Lowther Castle by Dave Willis

Lowther Castle by Dave Willis - Credit: Dave Willis

Lowther Castle and Gardens

This site of dramatic beauty and splendour, with vistas across the Lake District National Park, has the ruins of the castle with 130 acres of hidden gardens, enchanting woodland and amazing views. Once closed to the public – for over 70 years, the castle and grounds underwent one of Europe’s largest renovation projects in 2011. Since then, there have been further developments including new children’s play area, The Lost Castle, and a new exhibition area telling the history of the Lowther family. Large parts of the castle ruins can also now be enjoyed including Garden in the Ruin.

Further renovations were done at the start of 2017 including a redesign of the courtyard, shop and cafes spaces and an extension the woodland children’s play area which includes a party space.

Lowther Castle, Penrith, CA10 2HH. lowthercastle.org.

The inside of the Lakes Distillery

The inside of the Lakes Distillery - Credit: Archant

Lakes Distillery tours

From a Victorian cattle farm to a world-class production facility of quality spirits, this was a labour of love for Lakes Distillery founder Paul Currie. Here you can get a behind the scenes look at this working whisky distillery with different tours where you get a peek into the stillroom and warehouse as well as tasting of different spirits and learn about the tasting wheel.

Dedicated distillers can also take a stillman masterclass where you can join the production team for a day helping to mill the barley, operate the mashtun and fill a cask as well as dine in the distillery’s award winning bistro. There is also an on-site herd of alpacas. You can take part in feeding time, walk them around the scenic grounds and learn more about the animals.

The Lakes Distillery, Setmurthy, Near Bassenthwaite Lake, CA13 9SJ. lakesdistillery.com.

Helm Crag, Grasmere by Jacqueline Simmons

Helm Crag, Grasmere by Jacqueline Simmons - Credit: Archant

Thorney How Bikes

Bike hire, based at Thorney How guest accommodation in Grasmere, is available to residents or non residents.

As well as being able to hire mountain bikes to explore the beautiful Lake District, they also have electric bikes that you can rent for a half day, full day or evening. Make sure to book ahead.

Thorney How, via Easedale Road and Helm Close, Grasmere, LA22 9QW. thorneyhow.co.uk

The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway - Credit: not Archant

Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway

One of the oldest and longest narrow gauge railways in England, the heritage steam engines transport passengers from Ravenglass, the only coastal village in the Lake District National Park, to Dalegarth for Boot - some 210ft above sea level.

Known affectionately as La’al Ratty (little railway in old local dialect), the journey takes 40 minutes and travels through the protected nature reserves of the Ravenglass Estuary through ancient woodlands and fells of the Eskdale Valley.

Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, Ravenglass, CA18 1SW. ravenglass-railway.co.uk

The Rum Story is just one of many tributes to the naval history of Whitehaven

The Rum Story is just one of many tributes to the naval history of Whitehaven - Credit: Archant

The Rum Story

Set in the original 1785 shop, courtyards, cellars and bonded warehouses of the Jefferson family, discover the mystery of the rum trade in this Georgian town at this all-weather family entertainment.

The attraction represents £3 million of a total £11 million Millennium Commission grant aimed towards the regeneration of Whitehaven.

The Rum Story, Whitehaven, CA28 7DN. rumstory.co.uk

The Cocoa Bean Company is located in Hawkshead

The Cocoa Bean Company is located in Hawkshead - Credit: Archant

Cocoa Bean Company

Enjoy a wide range of luxury chocolates and confectionery at this family run chocolate factory, all of which are hand-crafted using traditional methods using only the finest Belgian chocolate.

Their purpose built site has extensive play areas both inside and outdoors, a large café area and chocolate workshops complete with glass viewing walls.

Cocoa Bean Company, Hawkshead, LA22 0NT. thecocoabeancompany.com

World of Beatrix Potter

World of Beatrix Potter - Credit: Archant

World of Beatrix Potter

The tales of the much-loved author come to life here at this family attraction. The exhibition features 3D scenes from Beatrix Potter’s stories, atmospheric lighting and real sounds and smells, taking you right to the pages of her beautiful stories.

There is also a tea room, garden and gift shop.

World of Beatrix Potter, Bowness-on-Windermere, LA23 3BX. hop-skip-jump.com

Stott Park Bobbin Mill (credit: English Heritage)

Stott Park Bobbin Mill (credit: English Heritage) - Credit: Archant

Stott Park Bobbin Mill

Millions of wooden bobbins were produced at this extensive working mill, all of which were vital to the Lancashire spinning and weaving industries. The only working bobbin mill left in the Lake District, here you can experience the story brought to life with tours and an exhibition.

There is also a hands-on family trail with dressing up for children, so you can really imagine what it was like to work at the mill.

Stott Park Bobbin Mill, near Newby Bridge, LA12 8AX. english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/stott-park-bobbin-mill

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