Outdoor activity and animals feature strongly in the Northern Lakeland itinerary for kids. Happy Hooves Riding Centre is BHS-approved and offers riding lessons, own-a-pony day and hacks. And at Walby Farm Park, you can meet rare breeds, ride mini-quads, follow the nature trail and ride the Baa-rmy Barrel Train.
Alternatively, kids can aim high at The Bounce Factor, with the four-bed bungee trampoline, body zorbs and tig. At the Rheged Centre, Europe’s largest grass-covered building, there’s pottery painting, turrets-and-tunnels outdoor adventure, storytelling, 3D cinema and comedy.
At Abbott Lodge, you can play inside or out, meet the livestock and tuck in to the huge range of homemade ice creams. On warmer days, dive into the Askham Outdoor Swimming Pools (heated) or Shap Swimming Pool, England’s highest heated open-air swimming pool at just under 1,000 feet.
Set sail on Ullswater Steamers surrounded by high mountains and local wildlife. Or enjoy family fun all round at Keswick Climbing Wall, where kids can tackle over 40 top rope climbs while mum and dad learn to belay. Back on terra firma, South Tynedale Railway chugs along a lovely route up to 900 feet above sea level.
In a landscape that’s as big and bountiful as the sky, activities here focus on the great outdoors. Perhaps the greatest of all is Aira Force, a waterfall walk of beautiful big trees and plunging water. Watch the water thunder down from Lower Lakeland Bridge, then press on for views from the top of Gowbarrow Fell.
Keep on walking, to visit Long Meg and Her Daughters, England’s third-largest stone circle, with more than 60 stones flanking Meg herself, a 12-foot-high block of red sandstone. Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Lacy once tried to blow up those stones; now you can climb to Lacy’s Caves, a romantic folly where he entertained his guests.
Go back in time to the romantic ruins of Lowther Castle, sight of dramatic beauty and splendour with over 130 acres of hidden gardens and enchanting woodland. Stick with the history theme at Hutton in the Forest, Dalemain Mansion and Historic Gardens, and small but beautifully formed Penrith Castle.
For a spot of shooting, karting and quadbiking, try Rookin Hall Activity Centre. Or for frivolous fun based around archery, zorb football, sumo wrestling, discus and more, head to Cumbrian Adventures. For food, shopping, theatre, opera, ballet, 3D cinema and more, the Rheged Centre is as unique as it’s unusual.