A family trip to Cumbria and the Lake District is a quintessential English experience for many, with rolling countryside, glistening lakes and craggy peaks that are ripe for exploration. Here's our pick of the best things to do with kids in this gorgeous part of the country.


Meet Peter Rabbit at the World of Beatrix Potter

With Peter Rabbit's garden, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle's kitchen and Jemima Puddle-Duck's woodland glade, fans of the timeless stories get to meet all their favourite characters at The World of Beatrix Potter.

It's fun for younger children, but older kids may prefer spotting signs of the author's inspiration at Hill Top, the farmhouse bought by Beatrix Potter in 1905 and where she wrote many of her famous tales. Both are busy during school holidays, so plan to visit early in the morning if you can.

Take a Mini Steam Train Ride

No matter how old you are, there's a certain excitement when boarding the little steam train on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. Chug across seven miles of beautiful countryside, with the option to hop off at any of the seven stations along the way.

For young train enthusiasts, there's also a museum at Ravenglass station with historic locomotives, as well as a café serving lunch and homemade cakes. If you're travelling in winter months, check the timetable as trains don't run every day outside of the summer season.

Hike a Wainwright Fell

For budding hikers, Loughrigg Fell in Ambleside is a moderate starter peak with easy-to-follow pathways and gentle hills to climb. It's one of the smallest of the 214 Wainwright peaks in the Lake District, but big enough to give a sense of achievement when you reach the top.

Along the way, explore the Rydal caves and take in the views that stretch for miles from this central point of the National Park. Begin the walk at Rydal Water car park, from where there are two routes available, with varying degrees of difficulty. Remember to wear appropriate clothing for the weather.


Cycle to Wray Castle

On the shores of Lake Windemere, Wray Castle has all the turrets, towers and play space for a day of imagining that you are medieval royalty. Interesting fact: the castle isn't actually as ancient as it looks having been built as an extravagant home for a Liverpudlian surgeon and heiress in 1840.

Inside is dedicated to playtime with themed rooms, creative activities and dress-up boxes - perfect for a rainy day. The grounds, meanwhile, are great for families to walk around in. Make the journey there fun too by peddling along the off-road cycle path from Ambleside or taking a bicycle-friendly ferry from Brockhole.

Kayak Around Coniston Water

Getting out onto the water is an essential thing to do while in the area - it's the Lake District after all. Try something more adventurous than a regular boat trip and hire kayaks at Coniston Water.

Here, beginners can head out with an expert guide then, once confident, go paddling independently to see the rugged coastline for yourself. A two-person kayak works well with young people that are new to it, and there are also paddleboards and motorboats available to hire.

Take a Buggy-Friendly Stroll Around the Langdales

If you're travelling with a toddler, the Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge walk has a shorter buggy-friendly route or a longer but still gentle four-mile stroll through woodland and meadows. Set off from the National Trust car park in Elterwater, then head towards the quiet lake.

For those doing the full walk, take the detour by the footbridge to see Skelwith Falls waterfall - bearing in mind that the steps leading down to it are a little tricky for smaller children.


Have an Adventure at Honister Slate Mine

For kids that are into the outdoors, head to Honister Slate Mine and its adrenaline-inducing via ferrata. Your tour guide will strap you all onto the fixed wire cable and lead you on a miner-style adventure, climbing ladders, crossing a narrow wire rope bridge and creeping through mineshaft tunnels.

It's not for the faint-of-heart but the views from high up are spectacular. If some of your group are less keen to take part, try the underground mine tour or have a walk in the surrounds before enjoying tea and cake in the café.

Escape the Rain at a Museum

Let's face it, the weather in the Lake District is not going to be reliable and looking for things to do with kids in a rainstorm is not easy. Thankfully, there are museums and indoor attractions to keep in mind as a plan B.

Derwent Pencil Museum is one, with engaging stories about Keswick's pencil industry and opportunities for doing some drawing yourselves. Another is the Windermere Jetty, where you can see boats and hydroplanes in undercover barns by the lake.