As parents we love taking our children on long walks across the fells. Sadly the children don’t always share our enthusiasm! Fortunately there are plenty of other distractions to keep them entertained when the lure of the hill proves elusive. Many of these are fun for grown-ups too and can be found on our other ‘Things to do’ pages – such as horse-riding, ghyll scrambling, treetop adventures and visiting historic houses. If none of those hit the spot then here’s some more suggestions…
Just over the hill from us and situated at the northern end of Bassenthwaite Lake is Trotters World of Animals – a 25 acre wildlife park in beautiful surroundings with a strong focus on conservation and education. For a chance to get close to some natural born killers visit the Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre on the Lowther Estate just south of Penrith. Budding ornithologists will love a visit to Bassenthwaite to see the wild nesting Ospreys which return every year. Further afield the South Lakes Wild Animal Park is well worth the drive – the highlight must be watching the Tigers and Jaguars at feeding time as they scale 40 foot poles to reach their meat.
You can’t beat the outdoor pool at Lazonby in the Eden Valley. The pool is lovely, there’s a small café and you can combine a visit here with a walk to nearby Lacy’s Caves. There’s also an outdoor pool at nearby Greystoke although we haven’t tried it yet. If it’s winter or the weather is simply too bad to contemplate swimming outdoors then the pool at Keswick is OK although it does get very busy – particularly when it’s wet outside!
One of our favourites and very popular with the children is Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle. Even though it’s a cliché there really is something for all ages. The interactive Roman Britain exhibition is particularly good for under 10s whilst the gallery is notable for its imaginative exhibitions of contemporary art. A visit to the museum can be combined with a trip to the castle over the road – also well worth a visit. In the opposite direction Keswick had until recently five museums but since the closure of the James Bond and Cars of the Stars museums the choice is now limited to three. The Pencil Museum (home of Cumberland pencils) is more interesting than it sounds, Puzzling Place is a gallery of optical illusions (and keeps our kids giggling) whilst the Keswick Museum and Gallery has less to entertain children but is still interesting for a visit.
The nearby Rheged Centre has an indoor (as well as outdoor) play area and is worth a visit for the shops, exhibitions, restaurant and cinema. There are also soft play centres in Carlisle and Penrith although we can’t vouch for them as our kids grew out of throwing themselves in to ball pools some years ago.