While the Lake District is perhaps most famous for its stunning walking terrain and beautiful views, you might be lulled into thinking there isn’t an awful lot for children to enjoy on a trip to England’s most visited National Park. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, there are countless things to do in the Lake District for kids, with boat rides, castles and activity centres aplenty. And of course, YHA are unparalleled in the range of Lakeland locations we can offer for you to stay, with 21 hostels within the boundaries of the National Park itself. So, take our advice and bring the kids – letting them truly appreciate one of Britain’s most brilliant places. Here are our seven picks for great things to do in the Lake District with children.
Begin at Brockhole on Windermere
Brockhole, the Lake District visitor centre set between Ambleside and Windermere, is an ideal taster to the Lake District for any family travelling with young children. With archery, boat rides, mini golf, an adventure playground and more, it’s ideal for whetting the appetite and introducing the kids to the area and all that the Lake District can offer. The facility also boasts gardens stretching down to the banks of the lake, plus it is handily located just a mile from YHA Windermere.
Saunter up the Scout Scar Trail
To acquaint the kids with the terrain and landscapes that the Lake District has to offer, it’s well worth taking a steady stroll up the Scout Scar Trail – just a half mile, but steep, wander from a small car park around two miles from Kendal. If you’re coming from the south and the M6 motorway, this could also be a great stop off point towards the end of your journey north – giving the kids the chance to explore their imaginations from an excellent viewpoint at the top of the scar. The low-lying fells from Kendal to Windermere stretch before you while the higher fells behind include the Coniston Old Man, the Langdale skyline of Bowfell and the Langdale Pikes and Kentmere Horseshoe.
YHA Stay: YHA Hawkshead
Learn to climb at the Lakeland Climbing Centre
The Lake District is a haven for scramblers, boulderers and climbers, and can be a great destination for giving kids the chance to have a go at a new activity which they might be unable to try out closer to home. The Lakeland Climbing Centre is ideal for giving budding climbers an opportunity to learn the ways of the wall, with a wide range of courses and facilities to suit all type of climbers, ranging from the experienced to the complete novice. The centre is open year round, and is suitable for all ages, with various price points catering for children and families.
YHA Stay: YHA Ambleside
Have a hoot in a castle
Head west to the Muncaster Castle, the medieval castle which dates from 12th century, and which is still lived in by the Pennington family. With such a lengthy history, the castle is known as being one of Britain’s most haunted, with several paranormal activities reported over the years – revolving around the legend of ‘Tom Fool’. The gardens of this creepy castle are also home to a Hawk and Owl centre, which houses over 49 species of owl, including endangered breeds such as the Ethiopian eagle owl and the Haitian ashy-faced owl. Enjoy thrilling flying displays and close-up encounters with these unique creatures.
YHA Stay: YHA Wasdale Hall
Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway
The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway is one of the oldest and longest narrow gauge railways in England, and is known affectionately as La’al Ratty – meaning “little railway“. An excellent attraction for a young family, the steam-powered railway travels 7 miles, from Ravenglass on the Cumbrian coast, to Boot in the valley of Eskdale. The route travels through beautiful countryside, taking in a number of small Lakeland villages and the rolling hills that this part of the Lake District possesses. It also offers a vantage point towards some of the country’s highest mountains, including Scafell Pike.
YHA Stay: YHA Eskdale
Sail along Derwentwater
Take a trip across Derwentwater and enjoy the scenery as you cruise along the water. You can stay on for a 50-minute circuit, or, should you want to move on, you can get off and let the kids explore the many pebble beaches and lakeside paths which surround the water. The cafe at Nichol End is a great place for the whole family to eat and is even dog-friendly, should you have chosen to bring your pooch to stay in one of YHA’s camping and cabins locations! Family tickets are available, or you can get the single trip ticket where children can board for half price.
YHA Stay: YHA Keswick
The World of Beatrix Potter
The World of Beatrix Potter is a fun and family-friendly attraction, bringing to life all 23 stories in a superb recreation of the beautiful Lake District countryside. The enchanting exhibition features famous names from the books, including Peter Rabbit and Jeremy Fisher. All the while, children can test themselves with a free activity sheet, as the grown ups occupy themselves in learning about Miss Potter’s history, via an interactive learning area. With a superb character-themed cafe and a world-famous gift shop, visitors of all ages can experience a little bit of Beatrix Potter magic while in the Lake District.
YHA Stay: YHA Windermere