The Lake District Guide

Your guide to things to do and places to go in the North and Eastern Lakes

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The Beacon Museum (Whitehaven)

You can discover the maritime, industrial and social history of this fascinating town, with its mining and shipbuilding legacy, and its American connections and links to the world of slavery. You can also enjoy the harbour views and try forecasting the weather from the top floor! There's an art gallery, cafe and shop.
Open: Tuesday - Sunday & school and bank holiday Mondays. Easter - Oct 10.00-17.30 Nov - Mar 10.00-16.30
The Beacon Museum, West Strand, Whitehaven, CA28 7LY
Directions: From A595 follow town centre and brown museum signs to harbour. Or if you come by train, it's a 10 minute walk from the mainline railway.
Phone: 01946 592302
Email: Web:

The Lake District Coast Aquarium (Maryport)

A highly praised all-weather attraction that has something for everyone. Like many places these days, this aquarium has a touchy-feely side to it: in this case, the rays and starfish give you a "real feel" for the marine environment. If you want to know what's going on in the waters around our shores, this is the place to see it! Outside crazy golf and adventure playpark. All tickets allow re-entry for talks and fish feeding.
Open: 7 days a week 10.00-17.00 Closed Christmas Day & Boxing Day.
Directions: On historical Maryport harbourside, NW Cumbrian coast, 30 minutes scenic drive from Keswick.
Phone: 01900 817760

Lakeland Sheep and Wool Centre (Cockermouth)

An indoor attraction, which is both fun & educational, with a live farm show! There are 19 breeds of sheep, geese & a dairy cow to enjoy, also working dogs. With a large gift shop with sheepskin products and all kinds of sheepish things, and a cafe serving hot meals and snacks, there's enough to keep all members of the family entertained for a few hours.
Open: Daily 0930-1730. Shows at 10.30, noon, 14.00,15.30, Sunday to Thursday March - October.
Directions: M6 Junction 40. Head west, A66. Sits on roundabout of A66/A5086 at Cockermouth.
Phone: 01900 822673
Email: Web:

Carlisle Cathedral

Founded in 1122, the Cathedral's glories include the East Window, the Brougham Triptych - a magnificent 16th century carved Flemish altarpiece - and fine painted panels depicting the lives of Saints. The 15th century choir stalls are notable examples of medieval carving. Treasury exhibition. Gift Shop and Restaurant.
Open: Monday-Saturday 07.40-18.15, Sunday 07.40-17.00 Bank Holidays 10.00-18.15 (Summer) 10.00-16.00 (Winter)
Directions: Carlisle city centre, car parks nearby. Railway and Bus station 10 minutes walk. M6 Junctions 42, 43, 44.
Phone: 01228 548151
Email: Web:

Trotters World of Animals (near Keswick)

A wildlife experience with hourly presentations and demonstrations. You can watch the otters, apes and monkeys, and see flying displays by eagles, vultures and other birds of prey. There are many other exotic animals including lynx, zebra and buffalo. Indoor and outdoor playcentres, and there's a tearoom and picnic area.
Open: Mar - Oct 10.00-17.00, Nov - Feb 11.00-16.30
Directions: North of Bassenthwaite Lake, 7 miles from Keswick. Follow the brown tourist signs on A591 and A66 at end of lake.
Phone: 017687 76239
Email: Web:

Mirehouse Historic House & Gardens (Keswick)

This is a beautiful country house with lakeside paths, poetry walk and a walled garden with heather maze. It has links with the Lakes poets, including Tennyson, and a fascinating collections of manuscripts and furniture. And besides being in a beautiful spot, its tea room is highly recommended!
Open: April-October inclusive. Gardens daily 10.00-17.30 House: Sundays, Wednesdays (also Fridays in August) 14.00 -17.00 (Last entry 16.30). Groups welcome by appointment.
Mirehouse, Keswick, CA12 4QE

Directions, On A591 3.5 miles north of Keswick.
Phone:017687 72287
Email: Web:

Cumberland Pencil Museum (Keswick)

This museum tells you all about the history of a local industry - "lead pencil" making, though in fact pencils are actually made from graphite. This long-established industry has been in the fabric of Keswick for 170 years, and the history and development of the pencils industry make for an interesting hour or two in the museum. It also caters well for children, with a quiz trail, the chance to learn artists' techniques, films and exhibitions. There is, as you might expect, a gift shop. Free parking.
Open: 09.30-16.00 last admission. Opening hours may be extended during the peak periods. (Closed 25 and 26 December and 1 January).
The Cumberland Pencil Museum, Southey Works, Keswick, CA12 5AG
Directions: Close to town centre, 300 metres west of bus station. Follow brown tourist signs.
Phone: 017687 73626
Email: See website Web:

Honister Slate Mine (Borrowdale)

The last working slate mine in England and a great all-weather attraction. You can go deep underground on a fully guided mine tour. Witness the clogs (that's not footwear, it's the newly-mined slate!) being transformed into roofing slate. We went down a few years ago and enjoyed the trip enormously - we've always enjoyed exploring the Lakes' mining industries. Here you can get a feel for what it must have been like, although of course the conditions in which the old miners worked were far more primitive than anything you'll see now. Browse the visitor centre or visit the Yew Tree country pub and restaurant serving good food in a pleasant environment. A Top Attraction!
Open: 7 days, 09.00-17.00. Mine tours 10.30, 12.30, 15.30. Booking essential in busy summer months.
Directions: From Keswick, follow B5289 through Borrowdale & Rosthwaite to the top of Honister Pass.
Phone: 017687 77230

Hutton-in-the-Forest (Penrith)

This is a historic house based on a medieval pele tower with substantial additions in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, set in the remains of Inglewood Forest, with a beautiful walled garden, 17th century dovecote, and woodland walk. What can you see? Well, there are collections of furniture, ceramics, tapestries and portraits. And there's the Cloisters Tearoom. Hutton is well worth a visit if you're in the area and you like to explore old properties, beautiful woodlands, gardens and enjoy tea shops!
Open: Gardens daily 11.00-17.00 except Saturday, Apr - Oct. House 12.30-16,00 Wed, Thurs, Sun & Bank Holidays, 12 Apr - 1 Oct.
Hutton in the Forest, Penrith, CA11 9TH
Directions: 2.5 miles north west of M6 Jct 41 on the B5305.
Phone: 017684 84449
E-mail: Web:

Ullswater Steamers (Ullswater)

The official publicity for the Ullswater says that these "steamers" (though they are propelled by diesel engines these days) remain the perfect way to enjoy England's most beautiful lake. I think I agree with that, though walking the length of the lake is pretty good too! Our family has always enjoyed the more tranquil and laid-back atmosphere of Ullswater. It's not that it's more beautiful than Windermere, but the atmosphere is different, perhaps because it's just that bit more remote - at least the day trips that get as far as Bowness and Ambleside don't get over Kirkstone Pass to Ullswater.
The first time I sailed on these boats, "The Lady of The Lake" was lying on the bottom of the lake, as it had been for many years. Now it's been restored to perfect condition, like its counterpart "Raven", and they've been joined by two more boats. You can leave the hustle and bustle behind aboard one of these beautiful heritage boats, and their convenient sailing times all year will let you connect quiet walks through picturesque Lakeland scenery with rugged mountain landscapes. A Top Attraction!
Open: Times vary according to season, please call for up to date sailing times.
Ullswater Steamers, The Pier House, Glenridding, Cumbria, CA11 0US
Directions: 5 miles from MIS junction 40. 11 miles from Windermere, just follow A592.
Phone: 017684 82229
E-mail: Web:

Rheged: Enter into the Spirit of Cumbria (Penrith)

This award-winning attraction is home to a giant cinema screen showing up to 5 spectacular movies daily; 12 carefully selected shops; restaurants; a children's indoor play area; and the gateway tourist information centre. There are regular events to enjoy (which you can find on the website.). Home to the National Mountaineering Exhibition, it's Europe's largest grass covered building! Free parking and free entry to building.
Open: Daily 10.00-17.30 (except Christmas Day). Call for details of regular events programme.
Directions: Just two minutes from the M6 (J40) at Penrith or a short bus or taxi journey from Penrith Railway Station.
Rheged, Redhills, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 0DQ
Phone: 01768 868000
Email: Web:


South Tynedale Railway (Alston)

Preserved steam trains are always fun for the children, and this one has the advantage of being in a very beautiful spot indeed. You can enjoy a train journey along the beautiful South Tyne valley between Alston and Kirkhaugh, in the North Pennines area of outstanding natural beauty. The trains are hauled by preserved steam and diesel locomotives from Britain and overseas. There's a railway shop in the restored Victorian station. Free parking. Picnic area.
Open: Weekends Easter - October and daily in summer peak season. Enquire for other dates and train times.
Directions: A686, A689 or B6277 to Alston. The station is on the Hexham Road.
Phone: 01434 381696