Saturday, 26 March 2016

20 things to do in Cumbria if it rains

No holiday in Britain comes with a rain free guarantee but that doesn't mean the day is wasted - here are 20 fab things you can do in Cumbria if the day turns out a little soggy.  (Please click on links to visit the websites and check opening times, charges etc.)

1.  The Rheged Centre - Penrith

Very easy to find, just off the M6/ A66 near Penrith.  There's loads of parking, lots of shops, exhibitions, films and lovely cafes serving local food.  Plus there's an adventure playground outside for kids when the rain eases off.

2.  Boat tours

You can take a boat tour along Coniston, Windermere and Ullswater - there'll be an interesting commentary along the way and many of the boats even have a bar on board so you can sip a G&T while admiring the beautiful views.

3.  The Lakeland Motor Museum - Backbarrow

The main museum has plenty to keep you busy for hours, then there's the separate Donald Campbell museum to explore.  When you're done with all that, or if you just need a rest, there's an excellent cafe serving freshly cooked local food.  (Check out special combined deals with Windermere Steamers)

4.  Honsiter Slate Mines

Set in the most breathtaking location there's stuff to keep you entertained here whatever the weather - cave tours and a cafe when it's soggy plus high adrenaline action on the Via Ferrata if you're feeling brave!

5.  Zeffirellis - Ambleside

Zeffirellis (or Zeffs as we usually call it) is a local legend.  The perfect place for pizza and a movie - or music, or whatever else takes your fancy.  There's a number of cinemas in Ambleside all under the same umbrella so check the webistes to see which one is perfect for you.

6.  Go and see a waterfall

Colwith Force

Who cares if it's raining?  Grab your waterproofs and go and splash in some puddles!  Waterfalls are definitely at their best when it's been raining and many of them don't involve a big hike - check out Skelwith Force, Colwith Force or Lodore Falls.  If you don't mind more of a walk then Stickle Ghyll and Dungeon Ghyll are well worth a visit, PLUS they come with the bonus of an excellent pub (The Sticklebarn)  to dry off in afterwards.

7.  Take a train around the coast

Did you know you can take a train the whole way around the Cumbrian coast?  Hop on at Grange-over-Sands (or Arnside) and stay on the whole way around to Carlisle.  Be sure to ask for the Round Robin ticket when you book then grab a window seat for one of the best train rides in Britain - fells on one side, stunning sea views on the other.

8.  Check out our towns & cities

From Carlisle in the north to Kendal in the south (or keep going to Lancaster - yeah, I know it's not in Cumbria but it's a great city) we have loads of towns to keep even the most enthusiastic shopaholic entertained.  Most folks find Ambleside and Bowness, but how about exploring Grange-over-Sands, Barrow or Whitehaven?  There's tons more there than you think, plus loads of local shops selling locally sourced goodies you won't find anywhere else.

9.  Climb the walls!

Let the kids climb the walls instead of you for a change - take them along to one of the indoor climbing walls at Ambleside or Kendal where you can wear them out, give them an early night and pour yourself a large glass of wine.

10.  The Puzzling Place - Keswick

It's mostly free here - there's a shop packed full of every kind puzzle you can imagine and a Puzzle Area where the whole family can try solving puzzles.  You only need to pay if you want to visit the World of Illusion and truly melt your brain....

11.  Beatrix Potter

If you're into Beatrix Potter then there's 2 places you need to visit - Beatrix Potter World in Bowness and Hill Top in Near Sawry.   The latter has the added benefit of being right next door to one of my favourite pubs in Cumbria - the Tower Bank Arms where you can enjoy home cooked food and a drink while you plan your next adventure.

12.  Museums at Keswick and Kendal

There is SO much to do at both of these museums - loads to get your hands on, plenty to explore and fun tunes to play!

13.  Chocolate Factory at Orton

Really - is there anyone who doesn't want to visit a chocolate factory?  Divine home made, melt in the mouth, chocolates and great big steaming mugs of chocolate plus a menu that has more chocolate on it than a toddler with a king sized Mars bar.  AND, did you know, that all chocolate consumed on holiday is calorie free?  Honest it is...

14.  The Beacon  - Whitehaven

Whitehaven is a much underrated place.  It's one of only 52 Gem Towns in Britain, has breathtaking views across the Solway to Scotland and has The Beacon where, amongst other things, you can ride a Raleigh Chopper, play Space Invaders, read the weather forecast and run your hands over exhibits with big PLEASE TOUCH signs next to them.  There's a cafe when you're done plus a fab chippy nearby and a great little town to explore too.

15.  The Lakes Aquarium - Newby Bridge

Where you can see fish, walk through underwater tunnels and watch diving ducks dive, learn about otters and handle snakes and giant snails.  Your kids will LOVE it.  You may not...

16.  The Pencil Museum - Keswick

I have to be honest, I absolutely LOVE the pencil museum.  Sadly the main museum was closed for a over a year due to the flooding from Storm Desmon BUT they are now OPEN FOR BUSINESS again!   Pencils, and graphite in particular, were hugely important to this region and gave several words and phrases to the English language that we use today - things like the "black market" - plus they have a fab cafe too - what's not to love?

17.  The Brewery Arts Centre - Kendal

There's ALWAYS something going on here - films, live music, comedy, exhibitions - if I'm not up a mountain you can often find me here.  There's a great bar and restaurant and it you fancy something different, check out their Warehouse films where they show classic and independent films which you can watch while sitting in big squishy sofas and enjoying a drink,

18.  The Dock Museum - Barrow

Another much underrated place - this is a superb gem of a museum, especially for anyone even remotely interested in ships.  The small museum near the entrance traces the local history, but once in the large museum you can check out scale replicas of many of the boats built in Barrow, get involved in hands on activities and watch wonderful short films telling you all about the local natural and industrial history - and it's all FREE!

19.  Carlisle Castle - Carlisle

A castle with a properly colourful history - sitting right on the Scottish border this castle has changed hands more times than you've had hot dinners - as well as the usual exhibits there's plenty of interactive stuff and loads of family activities during the school hols.

20.  Curl up in front of the fire with a good book

Clearly the very best thing to do if it's raining is to buy one of our books and curl up in front of the fire!  You can buy them directly from us here or they're available in all the local branches of  Waterstones, plus Keswick Museum, Kendal Museum, Yew Tree Barn, Catstycam, Low Sizergh Barn and lots of other places.

And if you REALLY don't want to leave the house then you can download my book of short stories direct from Amazon right here, right NOW!  10 short stories, all set in real Lake District locations and all with photos and a guide at the end so you can plan your visit.  Oh, and 5 star reviews.  Yay!

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