David Atkinson's Top 10 Lake District with Kids

David Atkinson, author of Lake District with Kids, shares his 'Top 10' attractions in the Lake District.

(Find out more about family travel in Britain).

(c) David Atkinson

Lake District with Kids
was road-tested by the sternest of critics: a three-year-old. Maya Atkinson (now four) accompanied me on many of the research trips for the book and made her thoughts and impressions all too clear at times. So, by way of an introduction to the book, here's my own, personal author's Top 10. It's a purely subjective pick of the places that worked well for us at the time. If you have your own particular favourites from the book, then please do contact us and let us know all about them.

(c) David Atkinson

1. Low Sizergh Barn, nr Kendal

The ideal lunch spot. Farm shop, cool cafe, watch the cows being milked in the yard then walk the organic farm trail. What more do you need?


2. The Rheged Centre, Penrith

Break the M6 trek and let the kids blow off steam in the soft play area, or join in organised activities, while you explore the deli. A wet-weather savior.


3) Augill Little Cooks, nr Kirkby Stephen

A cookery school aimed at kids aged seven to 14 years, set in a fairytale-castle hotel. Make a weekend of it and stay over for a food-themed family break.


4) Walby Farm Park, nr Carlisle

This clued-up attraction is an all-weather facility with indoor and outdoor attractions for all ages. The petting farm may be educational but it feels like fun.


5) Tebay Motorway Services, M6 nr Penrith

The ultimate motorway service station. Superb farm shop, great cafe with a flora and fauna-themed play zone and a kids' garden. Lots of attention to detail makes this place a day out in itself for all ages.


6) The South Lakes Wild Animal Park, Dalton-in-Furness

An ever-expanding attraction for up-close animal action. Try to catch the feeding times but consider bringing a picnic to save on costs.

7) The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, Ravenglass

A steam-powered jaunt through spectacular Lakeland scenery, which joins up with the wider rail network for car-free excursions. Look out for themed day trips with Father Christmas and Peter Rabbit.


8) Muncaster Castle & Gardens, Ravenglass

Events galore are Muncaster's main draw but even the animal attractions and playground are worthwhile off season. A make-a-day of it kinda place.


9) Wordsworth House & Garden, Cockermouth

No 'Keep Out' signs and indulging a penchant for dressing up make this the least stuffy history-based attraction you can imagine. Some hands-on exploring may even inspire the young poets of the future.


10) Twentyman’s Ice Cream, Allonby, nr Maryport

The best ice cream shop in Cumbria. 'Nuff said.

David Atkinson is the author of Lake District with Kids, and an expert on all things northern. If you liked this, check out David's article for the Independent about the best of the Lakes for summer holidays this year.

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This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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