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10th March 2016

Why you must visit the Lake District in 2016

8 must-dos on your Lake District self-catering cottage holiday 2016

In the wake of the 2015 Storm Desmond floods there’s never been a better time to visit the Lake District.  The floods caused serious and heartbreaking devastation to locals and holidaymakers, but in the calm after the storm there are great offers, an enormous welcoming spirit and of course the Lakes mesmerising landscape, walks and outdoor adventures all awaiting you.

2016 is going to be a special year. Come and soak up the spirit and be inspired. Let’s take a look at some of the places across the region that you should explore in 2016.

1.) Visit South Lakes Safari Zoo

In a shock turn of events in January 2016 the unique and special South Lakes Safari Zoo, Dalton in Furness, avoided closure – yes we nearly lost the much-loved family attraction – and was, thankfully, gifted as a charity. The park was saved by a petition signed by 200k visitors desperate to keep the Uk’s first ever safari experience on foot, open for generations to enjoy.

Phew we say and what better time than 2016 to support the zoo, which is more of a conservation park than conventional zoo. They successfully breed the endangered Sumatran tigers (the world’s largest and smallest tiger breed) and indeed, it is one of the few zoos in the UK where primates are allowed to roam free around the park. There are expansion plans in 2016 including a ‘Natural History museum’ where kids and parents alike can learn about Lake District wildlife. Voted the most ‘family friendly zoo’ you’re looking at £15.50 adult entry which allows up to 4 kids (age 3-15 years) free admission. Follow their Facebook page for lots of offers and competitions where you can win prizes like the chance for a big cat hand feeding experience – if you dare! Making sure you catch feeding time of the big cats, especially the jaguars!



Kids are FREE at South Lakes Safari Park where you can really get up close to a huge variety of animals in this superb conservation park

2.) Join Beatrix Potter’s 150th birthday celebrations

London born Beatrix Potter, children’s author and illustrator famed for her creation of The Tale of Peter Rabbit and his many friends, holidayed in the Lake District as a child until she bought Hill Top farm in Sawrey with the proceeds of her ‘bunny book’ in 1905.  Miss Potter’s love of the Lake District grew and she played an important role in its preservation as well as being the first woman to be elected president-designate of the Herdwick Sheepbreeders’ Association! Her ‘gift to the nation’ upon her death included 14 farms and 4000 acres of land across the Lake District, which she left to the National Trust for generations to continue to enjoy. 2016 marks the 150th anniversary of her birthday and The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness (celebrating 25th anniversary this year), the National Trust and many others have lots of events going on across the Lakes to celebrate:

  • World Premier ‘Where is Peter Rabbit’ musical adventure, running from 27 June to 4 September at the Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness
  • Special anniversary version of the Peter Rabbit Lake District Easter Treasure Hunt, 9 April
  • The National Trust is holding a series of Beatrix Potter Birthday picnics on 28 July
  • Special exhibition of almost 30 original Beatrix Potter illustrations showcased at the newly re-opened Wordsworth House and Gardens, Cockermouth, Easter until 30 June
  • Special Hill Top showcase tours


Join in the celebrations across the Lakes this summer as we celebrate the 150th birthday of one of the region’s best-loved children’s authors, Beatrix Potter

3.) Visit Go Ape – UK’s No.1 Forest Adventure

Go Ape, in Grizedale Forest, is one of the best family days out in the Lake District. Let your tribe live life a little more adventurously.  Children as young as six can monkey around on Tree Top Junior, while older children can fly through the sky on a zip wire, race through the forest on a Segway or swing through the trees like Tarzan on the Tree Top Adventure.

Banish the boredom this 2016, and enjoy some family time in the fresh air!

People on Segways in the Lake District

Let the tribe live life more adventurously at GoApe in Grizedale Forest, Hawkshead

4.) Enjoy unseen Lake District gardens

2016 is VisitEngland’s Year of the English Garden. Under the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) 100 private gardens open across Cumbria in 2016. A mix of small and grand gardens – this is such a good way to see parts of the region that are not normally open to the public. Our Lake District gardens are intertwined with the legacy of famous artists and writers, such as Wordsworth, Potter and Ruskin. What better excuse and place to explore the English Garden this year.

  • The Lingholm Estate Walled Garden, Portinscale, Keswick – restored Walled Garden opening July 2016! Beatrix Potter enjoyed nine summer holidays here and “The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin” is said to be inspired by the many red squirrels on the banks of Derwent Water and Mr McGregor’s famous vegetable plot was inspired by the gardens at Lingholm.
  • Don’t miss Dora’s Field, a stunning daffodil field planted by Wordsworth in the memory of his daughter following her death, at Rydal.
  • Beatrix Potter’s birthday picnic in the garden at Wordsworth House and Garden, Thursday 28 July
  • Continuing North, on the outskirts of Penrith, Askham Hall, owned by the Countess of Lonsdale, has formal gardens, woodland and meadows, dating back to 17th Century and for those looking for a family friendly option, there’s some recently added animal trails as well as rare breed pigs, goat, ducks and chickens.  Has a super cafe and the summer season is sizzling with pizza served form their outdoor wood-fired oven. Garden entry is £4 per adult.
  • The Lakeland Horticultural Society’s hillside gardens at Holehird, is approximately 2 miles from Windermere train station and provides you with 17 acres of hillside gardens set, arguably to the finest views in the Lakes and some of the most interesting planting you’ll see; trees, shrubs, rock and heather gardens, walled garden, alpine houses and herbaceous border. A green-fingered heaven.
  • “Nowhere on earth have I seen a spot more perfect and enjoyable beauty”, Thomas Arnold – Visit Rydal Mount & Gardens and you’ll find the 4 acre garden just as William Wordsworth, custodian and designer, created it. What better way to experience the romance and love that this poet had towards the Lake District landscape than in his very own garden of this family home, wondering through the rhododendrons and rare shrubs, past the rock pools and looking out to Lake Windermere, Rydal Water and the surrounding fells, where he spent most of his years , writing and publishing many famous works including the revised ‘Daffodils’. During good weather you can ‘take tea’ in the garden itself.
  • Holker Hall Garden Festival, 3 June – 5 June. Holker Hall and Gardens was crowned ‘Garden of the Year’ in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards 2015/16, as shortlisted by Lucy Hall, the editor of BBC Gardeners’ World and so one not to miss!


The Lingholm Estate House

The Lingholm Estate House, the Walled Garden which inspired Beatrix Potter’s Mr McGregor’s vegetable garden opens in July 2016

5.) Watch the world’s longest sausage sandwich record attempt at Muncaster Castle

Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, Western Lake District, is host to the World’s Longest Sausage Sandwich competition over May Day weekend 2016, with celebrity TV chef Peter Sidwell taking on the challenge. He is joined by current ‘Longest Cumberland Sausage’ Guinness world record holder Gary McClure. You can also watch hopefuls battle for the title ‘Fool of Muncaster 2016’ during Muncaster Festival on 29 May – 31 May 2016. 

Foodies, don’t miss other superb foodie delights taking place across the Lake District in 2016;

  • First Taste Cumbria food festival in Keswick, 27 and 28 March
  • World’s ‘Original Marmalade Festival’ is celebrated across three venues in 2016 for first time; The ‘glorious orange glow’ is spreading from its usual location at Dalemain Mansion House and Gardens, just off northern Ullswater, to include two more venues packed with zingy, orange fun including Penrith town centre and Rheged Centre.
  • Lake District restaurants were recognised for two awards by The Good Food Guide 2016 and certainly worth a visit; Lake Road Kitchen in Ambleside bagged ‘Best New Restaurant’ and L’Enclume, in Cartmel took top place in the Top 50 Restaurants of 2016.


World’s Original Marmalade Awards and Festival

Ever wondered why Paddington likes marmalade so much? Find out from the author’s daughter who’s giving a talk as part of the Penrith celebrations of the World’s Original Marmalade Awards and Festival

6.) Join the Lake District in its UNESCO World Heritage site bid

The Lake District welcomes holidaymakers time and time again, and yes for some of us it’s about ‘ticking’ off Wainwrights or other outdoor challenges.  But, for most, a holiday in the Lakes is about memories. Walks that all ages can achieve, adventures and fresh air like no other.

The same can be said of the Lakes unique culture. World-class culinary offerings, sites of historical importance and a thriving creative scene that not was not only home to famous artists of the past, but many of today’s great stars.

So, as the Lake’s heritage bid heats up in 2016 soak up some of the famous culture that has folk returning time and again to the region:

  • Music, comedy, dance, theatre, festivals and other events at the Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
  • The Old Laundry Theatre, Bowness-on-Windermere
  • Taste Cumbria, Keswick, 27 and 28 March
  • Theatre by the Lake, Keswick. You must not miss ‘The Shepherd’s Life’, one of the most ambitious performances from the Theatre by the Lake yet. Adapted by Chris Monks from James Rebanks’ best-selling account of his life and work in the Lake District, runs from 26 March to 23 April.
  • Literary history: Dove Cottage & the Wordsworth Museum, Grasmere.
  • Wordsworth House and Gardens, Cockermouth, opens new Discovery and Exhibition rooms
  • Tulle House Museum, Carlisle
  • Brantwood, Coniston
  • Lake District Summer International Festival 2016, 30th July – 12th August
  • C-Art Open Studios
  • Kendal Calling, independent music festival 2016 lineup includes Rudimental, Madness and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. 28 to 31 July.
  • Cumberland Show, 11 June
  • Loather Show, 13 and 14 August
  • Keswick Mountain Festival, Crow Park, 19 to 22 May
  • Rheged family attraction, eating and shopping, Penrith
  • Appleby Horse Fair
Kendal Calling music festival

Kendal Calling music festival

7.) Follow a Public Art Trail

Follow the trail of 100 life-sized Hardwick sheep sculptures, from Keswick, through Grasmere, Rydal and Ambleside, Brockhole and Bowness to Windermere in a special 2016 public art trail in aid of the Calvert Trust’s 40th Anniversary.

From parks, on buildings, in shops and cafes, on lakesides and even on boats – this art trail, running from 25 March to 4 September, will be like a magical tour of the most spectacular and beautiful landscape and towns in the UK, the Lake District.


In 2016 the 555 bus route across the Lakes will be invaded by a flock of life sized decorated fantasy Herdwicks!

8.) Go car free with the new 2016 ‘The Cumbria Spirit’ Virgin Train

And what’s more get 30% off!  Virgin Trains and VisitEngland’s ‘Love the North’ campaign gives 30% off train ticket fares to the North West, including Penrith and Oxenholme, until the 13 May 2016.

So you see, in 2016 the Lake District is very much #OpenForBusiness.  Come and join us!