Hidden Gems: Free Days Out in the Lakes
When it comes to the Lake District, the best things in life really are free. It’s the adventurer’s playground, with even the keenest of explorers unlikely to cover every lake, water, fell, park and viewpoint of it’s 2,362 km² of natural wonder in a single trip or holiday.
And while there are a number of activities you’re sure to love that may cost a Lake District Pound [LINK to article] or two, sometimes the best days out are the ones where you don’t have to worry about watching the pennies. Here we take a look at some of our favourite free attractions waiting for you in the Lake District.
Fells, walks, cycling and historic towns
With fells as far as the eye can see, the Lake District is crying out to be explored on foot. Whether you fancy tackling the dizzy heights of Scafell Pike or Helvellyn or something a little flatter, there are quite literally hundreds of walks offering incredible views, challenging terrains and in many cases, a rewarding pub at the end!
If you’re planning on taking the young ones on a mission or you’re looking for something suitable for those with restricted mobility, check out the ‘Miles Without Stiles’ routes, all of which have been created or selected with consideration for walkers with pushchairs, visual impairments or limited mobility. Many are within easy reach of bus or rail links and with 48 to choose from, you’ll soon be on a mission to walk the lot!
Windermere, Ambleside and Kendal are becoming increasingly accessible for cyclists with dedicated lanes linking many of the area’s towns and villages in between. So, if two wheels and a helmet is your ideal means of getting around, you’re sure to find a challenging route, race or event in the area. For the best routes and the best equipment, stop by one of the area’s cycling centres such as Wheelbase in Staveley (the UK’s largest cycling store) or Keswick Bikes.
Although a town centre isn’t necessarily ‘free’ if you’re surrounded by shops, luckily the likes of Kendal are home to a wealth of history. The fascinating ruin of Kendal Castle is only a short walk from the middle of the town and acts as a wonderful viewing point of the town and the distant fells.
Just Pay Parking
Rydal Water & Caves
Rydal is one of the most popular walking destinations with locals - and for good reason. With a small car park nearby (note, getting there early is essential), Rydal opens up to a complete loop with a jaw-dropping mountainous area to one side, grassy banking on the other and a small woodland area at the far end. Rydal is easily one of the area’s best picnic spots and provides a nice, relaxing walk that finishes along the main road and past a couple of pubs.
Between Windermere and Ambleside and located on the Lake itself is the Brockhole visitor centre, a must-visit attraction suitable for families of all ages. The centre brings something new to the table every year, such as its recently re-created adventure playground, the popular treetop nets, climbing trees and zip wire. You can grab a cruise on the Lake, take on a trail through the grounds, enjoy a round of crazy golf or simply park up and have a game of football on the grass. Brockhole has so much to offer that on the right day, with good weather, you won’t want to leave!
Ambleside Rothay Park
There’s a new contender for the title of the Lake District’s best play area,and it’s the recently-developed Rothay Park, found along Virage Road in the centre of Ambleside. With climbing features, mini-trampolines, musical instruments and challenging obstacle courses aplenty. The area is also home to football pitches and climbable trees - plenty to keep the young ones entertained.
Grizedale and Whinlatter Forests
Well, we’ve included this as a ‘just pay parking’ attraction, but there is a lot to do at Grizedale if you fancy taking the adventure off your feet! The forest itself has clearly marked routes of varying levels, distances and grades so you’re sure to find a challenge suitable for your needs. It’s another one of those areas where you’ll find yourself venturing back through the winding country lanes to return again and again just to try out a new path! And if you wanted to get off those feet after a long stretch, Grizedale is home to ‘Go Ape’ - a thrilling treetop adventure that’ll challenge your vertigo or unleash the inner Tarzan. You can also take the segways out for a spin or let the kids blow off some steam on their adventure playground.
Described as England’s only true mountain forest, Whinlatter also features Go Ape and Segway facilities, three cycling routes, nine walking routes and play areas. While Grizedale and Whinlatter are both fantastic options, the views and landscapes available at Whinlatter are absolutely breathtaking. For the price of a car park ticket, both places are well worth a visit with a picnic in your backpack.
BONUS! Camping & Caravanning Club Members
So for this one we’re breaking away from completely free things to do, but we feel this offer is too good not to share. If you’re a member of the Camping and Caravanning Club (or if you fancy taking a new membership out for as little as £40 for 12 months) you can access an unbeatable deal at the Lakeland Maize Maze located just outside Kendal. For just £9 for a night to pitch up a tent or motorhome, the Maze offers access to its park and facilities with loads to do for the kids for just a standard day’s entry fee. If you rock up early enough you can pitch your tent, have fun in the park, enjoy a wonderful camping experience then do it all again the next day without having to pay twice! Family tickets are £28-32 depending on whether it’s low or high season.
Whatever you’re up for, your visit to the Lakes doesn’t always need to break the bank. With so much adventure waiting for you and the family, it’s no wonder the area is growing in popularity year on year for staycations and bank holiday getaways. And don’t forget, Littlemere are on hand to provide luxury lodge accommodation for your stay. To avoid disappointment, be sure to book early, or get in touch to find out more!