Shake off the indoors with a day exploring the trails of England’s only true mountain forest; enjoy the excitement of a steam train journey; and from the saddle of a gentle shire horse, discover the white beaches that the Lake District has been keeping secret. The Lake District is jam-packed with things to do whilst on holiday with kids. Enjoy our pick of the best.
Keswick’s Secret Mountain Forest
At 1000ft above sea level, Whinlatter Forest Park, Keswick, is England’s only true mountain forest. Carved through the hilly forest are some of the best mountain bike trails in the country. In fact, the longest purpose-built mountain bike trail is here at Whinlatter. Tucked away in the north-western corner of the Lake District, yet less than 4-miles from Keswick, Whinlatter is a top discovery when looking for easy-wins with the youngest members of your party. As well as biking, there are walking trails, GoApe and horse-riding.
Hungry tummies are taken care of too, with picnic spots as well as BBQ areas and superb a café. You can easily spend a day at Whinlatter.
For aged 10+ the Whinlatter Forest Segways are a super-fun and eco-friendly experience of the windy forest trails. This time of year is a particularly good time to enjoy this experience, during the mild weather, as hands in particular can get chilly. For younger visitors, Whinlatter are great at family-friendly trails, for legs of all sizes. These trails are short (1-mile) and offer a gentle walk, with fun along the way. Currently, Julia Donaldson’s best-loved dragon, Zog, is providing stacks of entertainment in a special Zog activity trail for £3. For school kids that need a bit more, all roads will most certainly lead to a visit to Whinlatter WildPlay, which offers a seriously impressive series of 9 different forest play zones, ranging from a fairy kingdom and water play to rock climbing, swings, slides and net climbing.
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Let Off Some Steam
Tucked away in the western corner of the Lake District is the region’s most-loved narrow-gauge steam train attraction, Ravenglass Railway. Or, known locally as La’al Ratty (little railway). This heritage steam train has carried some very famous passengers over its time, with the journey being one of Alfred Wainwright’s favourites. But, perhaps the most famous is the annual visit from Father Christmas on the Santa Express.
The extremely child-friendly 40-minute journey passes from Ravenglass on the coast, along 7-miles of the most spectacular scenery in the Lake District, including England’s tallest peaks, the Scafell Range. Do look up their events calendar, such as the upcoming Young Engineers Day Out with author of Peter’s Railway, as these sell out quickly.
A not so ‘La’al’ secret lying in the south western Lakes is Muncaster Castle, and a visit to this haunted house can be combined with a Ravenglass Railway Ticket. The gardens are in full bloom at this time of year, keeping Mum and Dad happy whilst the little ones discover that the woodland trails are filled with enchanted fairy doors, stepping stones and an outdoor adventure playground. The Hawk and Owl displays are popular and there’s a fun room for kids inside the castle too.
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All kids LOVE trampolines. Suspend them from nets 60ft high above the ground in the canopy of trees and the monkey business really begins. Add slides, daring walkways and tunnels, all made from bouncy net, and what could be more fun? Find yourself at Brockhole on Windermere Treetop Nets and the whole family is in for a whole lot of fun. Adults may ache the next day!
No equipment is needed, no harnesses or queuing up for instructions. Plus, the whole family of cheeky monkeys can join in. Anyone from the age of 3 years can enjoy the Treetop Nets at Brockhole on Windermere and you get 2 hours on the nets too, so nervy aerial acrobats have time to get into the swing of things.
Take your kids on an up-close and personal experience of the Lake District’s famous mountain terrain, on a hair-raising 4×4 driving experience with Kankku, Windermere.
Here, a fleet of finely tuned Land Rover off-roaders await, ready to show you just what they can do. Take the steering wheel and pass the walkie talkie to the kids, as you pass over extreme rocky trails, impossibly tricky inclines, gushing river crossings and tight technical descents – these impressive vehicles are sure to make you look good in front of the kids!
And for the young eco-warriors in your tribe, don’t worry. These specially adapted 4×4 vehicles are designed to operate in harmony with the off-road trails, preserving them for future generations. So, book a ride and enjoy the Lake District in all its dramatic glory.
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Big Friendly Giants
Cumbrian Heavy Horses, Cartmel, really are one of the very best horse-riding experiences in the UK. As their name suggests, they specialise in and only have heavy horse breeds (Clydesdales and Shires), which are large and strong horses and so not suitable for smaller children.
That said, if your legs are long enough to reach the stirrups of these stunning gentle giants, you don’t need any horse-riding experience whatsoever.
Whether it will be your first time in the saddle, or if you’re a dab hand with the reins, all riders are catered for. Open all year around, rides are daily and there are choices of a fell trek or rather magical beach hack. The white sand beaches at Millom will take your breath away. If it’s all a bit last minute, the stables can even provide your gear, indulging hats and boots if needed.
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