Yorkshire Times
Weekend Edition
12:00 AM 6th July 2024

The 10 Best Free Activities In Cumbria And Lancashire For The 2024 Summer Holidays

Image by Eleonora Pavlovska from Pixabay
Image by Eleonora Pavlovska from Pixabay
The summer holidays are almost upon us – and with a heatwave expected to hit the UK over the next few weeks, now’s the perfect time to get your children excited about the summer days to come!

The increased cost-of-living has made it tougher for parents to plan activities while balancing budgets: in 2023, a third of parents were forced to sacrifice days out with their children because of the costs associated.
Kids still need enrichment and excitement in their summer holidays – so the educational play experts at Playdale Playgrounds have put together a list of the 10 best free activities in and around Cumbria to ensure you can keep your children entertained without breaking the bank this summer.

Visit some Roman remains

The Lake District is rich in Roman history, with plenty of remnants ripe for exploration. It’s another way to make your free trips out educational as well as fun!
Among the Lake District’s Roman remains is the Hardknott Roman Fort, an ancient military post established in the 2nd century under Emperor Hadrian. Because of its remote location, Hardknott has been preserved beautifully. Visitors can freely explore this site, which is under the care of the National Trust and English Heritage.

Image by hskotamraju from Pixabay
Hardknott Image by hskotamraju from Pixabay
In addition to Hardknott, you can also discover a few other fascinating Roman sites, including:

The High Street Roman Road
Ambleside Roman Fort
Barnscar Romano-British Farmstead
Ravenglass Roman Bathhouse
Aughertree Fell Settlement.

Hardknott Pass: Holmrook, CA19 1TH.
Opening times: open 24 hours.

Learn and play at the Dock Museum

For an activity that’s educational as well as fun, take your kids to the Dock Museum. With exhibitions on the First and Second World Wars, Cumbria’s rich history in iron and steelworks and the Roman Empire, there’s plenty for your kid to learn and engage with – and it’ll cement their school learning, too!

As well as interesting and informative exhibitions, Dock Museum also features an adventure playground where your kids can tire themselves out physically, quizzes, themed galleries and an onsite café.

The Dock Museum is currently undergoing a refurbishment programme, but will be back open on July 24th, ready for a summer full of fun!

Dock Museum: Barrow-in-Furness, LA14 2PW.
Opening times: 11am - 4pm, Wednesday – Sunday. (Reopens July 24th).

Go bird-watching and exploring in Fairhaven Lakeo

If you venture into Lancashire, you can visit the beautiful Fairhaven Lake. It’s a great place to take animal-loving kids, with bird-watching and nature walks both popular activities in this natural haven. Pay a visit to the RSPB Ribble Discovery Centre to find out more about local conservation efforts and see a range of wading birds, including godwits, curlew, oystercatchers, redshank and dunlins.

For energetic youngsters, you’ll also find a huge adventure park at Fairhaven Lake. It features a themed pirate cove, complete with a sandpit and a treasure chest. Kids can take on the assault course and put their skills to the test – it’s a great way to not only get your kids moving, but to tire them out and make sure they get a great night’s sleep!

Fairhaven Lake: Inner Promenade, Lytham Saint Annes FY8 1BD.
Opening times: Visitor Centre 10am – 4pm.

Photo: Pixabay
Keswick Photo: Pixabay
Go mouse-hunting on the Keswick Mouse Trail

Keswick has lots to offer in terms of quaint cafes, independent pubs and stunning surrounding scenery. A free activity that’ll keep the kids entertained for hours (or even days!) is the Keswick Mouse Trail.

Just pick up a map from the famous Keswick Cheese Deli, or download one from the website, and set off on your adventure around Keswick! Once you’ve completed the trail, you’ll get your map stamped – so your kids will have a memento of their adventure.

Keswick Cheese Deli: 9 Packhorse Ct, Keswick CA12 5JB.
Opening times: Monday – Saturday, 9am – 5pm, Sunday, 10am – 4pm.

Enjoy outdoor adventuring at Brockhole on Windermere

Brockhole on Windermere is an exciting and free-to-enter outdoor attraction situated on the shores of the beautiful Lake Windermere. There are plenty of physical activities here to keep your kids entertained – from a huge adventure playground to the Brockhole Pirate Experience.

Some of the experiences require paid tickets, but if you have little ones under two years old, you can enjoy the Brockhole Pirate Experience for free! We also recommend exploring the grounds of Brockhole – plus the gorgeous summer house built for silk merchant William Gaddum and Beatrix Potter’s cousin, Edith Potter.

Image by Martin Marais from Pixabay
Windermere Image by Martin Marais from Pixabay
Lake District National Park: Visitor Centre, Windermere LA23 1FF.
Opening times: Monday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm.

Learn about the Lakes poets at Keswick Museum

Keswick Museum is home to many ongoing and temporary exhibitions that both kids and parents can enjoy for free. It regularly features exhibitions on the many poets associated with the Lake District; one special exhibition showing until March 2025 features the famed Robert Southey and a reimagining of Goldilocks. Southey is currently being celebrated in the ongoing literature exhibit, too.

Kids can learn about their county’s great history, from how humans shaped the landscape of the Lake District over thousands of years to the region’s rich arts and crafts heritage.

Keswick Museum: Station Road, Keswick, CA12 4NF.
Opening times: Monday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm.

Explore Kendal Castle

Whether your kids are history buffs or not, nothing fires up the imagination more than a ruined medieval castle. Standing proud over the market town of Kendal in south Cumbria, these ruins date back to the 13th century!

These imposing stonework ruins are sure to fire up the imagination – and although you’ll have to tackle a steep walk to reach the castle, your little ones are sure to be tired out after this day trip!

Kendal Castle: Sunnyside, Kendal LA9 7DJ.
Opening times: open 24 hours.

Spot some wildlife at Dubwath Silver Mea

The Lake District, with its stunning rolling hills and acres of natural beauty, is a hotspot for UK wildlife. One area designated for wildlife conservation is Dubwath Silver Meadows, so it’s perfect if your kids are big animal lovers.

Here, you can find all sorts of wonderful local wildlife including bats, mice, roe deer, red squirrels, badgers and voles, plus a range of bird species. Be aware that it’s a designated wetland, so bring your wellies – and let’s face it, what youngster doesn’t love getting a bit muddy?

Dubwath Silver Meadows Nature Reserve: Cockermouth CA13 9YN.
Opening times: open 24 hours.

Winats Pass
Image by Tim Hill from Pixabay
Winats Pass Image by Tim Hill from Pixabay
Take in the beauty of Aira Force

In a region of spectacular views, it’s hard to designate one unique spot of beauty – but we’d argue Aira Force takes the crown as a stunningly beautiful waterfall. Even youngsters can appreciate this beauty hotspot – plus there are plenty of activities to keep them busy.

Take your kids on the Aira Force waterfall trail so they can see this landmark from every vantage point, and let them unleash their wild side by playing in the streams or going rock and tree-climbing. It’s an adventurous kid’s dream! Don’t forget to keep your eyes out for the enigmatic red squirrel, known to frequent the area…

Aira Force: Matterdale, Penrith CA11 0JS
Opening times: open 24 hours.

Be inspired at Thuline Studio
If you have artsy kids, inspire their creativity with a free visit to Thuline Studio. Thuline is a renowned artist who has owned studios in various Lake District locations including Kendal and Windermere.

You can explore the gallery and see some of Thuline’s famous cow paintings, and if you and your kids are lucky, you may witness Thuline creating one of her masterpieces!

Thuline Studio: 22 Main Rd, Windermere LA23 1DY
Opening times: Monday – Sunday, 10am – 4:30pm.

Keeping the kids mentally stimulated and physically active in the summer holidays shouldn’t break the bank. The good news is that in Cumbria and Lancashire, there are plenty of free activities – whether your kid is an adventurer, a budding artist or a history buff!