The Lake District Guide

Your guide to things to do and places to go in the South West Lakes, around Coniston and in the Lake District Peninsulas

1 Furness Abbey (Barrow)

This abbey is certainly very impressive, even now, and its setting is rather beautiful. If you're interested in the history of monastic orders, this will give you a real sense of how these monks lived. It was one of the richest Cistercian abbies in Britain, and though it now consists of a set of roofless sandstone walls, it was once the most powerful abbey in the Northwest, owning much of Cumbria as well as land in Ireland. You can take a free audio tour which adds immeasurably to your understanding of the place, and you can explore the beautiful wooded vale in which the abbey is set. When you've seen enough, there's a rather good pub just down the road, the Abbey Tavern, where you can sit and enjoy a drink among some of the ruined outbuildings of the abbey.
Furness Abbey, Barrow in Furness, Cumbria.
Phone: 01229 823420 Web:

2 The Dock Museum (Barrow)

As a child I remember seeing the molten iron ore slag being poured onto the slag heaps, glowing fiery red as it flowed out of the smelting vessels. Since then much has changed, and the steel industry has long since gone. Naturally enough, the history of the town's changing fortunes is a major focus of the museum, which purports to explain how Barrow "grew from a tiny nineteenth century hamlet to the biggest iron and steel centre in the world and a major shipbuilding force in just forty years". Indeed, the museum is located in a dry dock where ships were once repaired. The galleries include a "Shipbuilders to the world" exhibition, and there are the expected hands-on interactive displays: the whole story of the town is well presented. The landscaped waterfront site is pleasant enough to spend an hour or two, and has an adventure playground and walkways linked to Cumbria's Coastal Way. There's a coffee shop, museum shop, wheelchair accessibility to all areas, and ample free car and coach parking. Groups are welcome and guided tours are available if booked in advance.
Phone: 01229 894444 Fax: 01229 811361 Email: Web:

3 Lazerzone @ TheCustom House (Barrow)

The most advanced Lazer Tag system in the world, or so say Lazer Tag! They'd like you to pit your wits against friends and family as you experience this exciting new phenomenon. And if you do, your heart will pound as you compete against each other. OK, enough of that. In fact it's fun, fast and friendly, but don't be surprised if you suddenly get serious about shooting your friends and "enemies" as the game progresses. The unusual feature is that the arena itself can tag you if you're not quick enough.
Located in the historic Custom House building, there's also a restaurant where you can dine after your exertions. With a 4000 square feet indoor play area for children and an internet zone with broadband access, this could keep the whole family entertained for hours.
1 Abbey Road, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria LA14 5UF
Phone: 01229 823823 Fax: 01229 432862 Web:

4 Barrow Superbowl (Barrow)

A modern, fun way to spend a wet afternoon in the Lakes! Or you could just go along to have a bit of fun with the kids. There's a cafe on the premises, so you can eat and play, and it's a friendly place with a well stocked bar for the adults to refresh themselves.
Barrow Superbowl, Hollywood Park, Barrow in Furness, Cumbria LA14 1YE
Phone: 01229 820444 Fax: 01229 820666 Email: Web:

5 Barrow-in-Furness

Barrow-in-Furness bills itself as the historic maritime gateway to the Furness peninsula. True enough, it's the maritime gateway to this part of the world - though its historic importance was much greater than its current importance, even though it is now the centre for Britain's nuclear submarine industry. There has recently been a lot of enterprising regeneration in the town centre, so the Victorian heritage begins to show itself once again to its best advantage. With some truly attractive beaches nearby and the wonderful scenery of the Lakes close at hand, Barrow probably does indeed live up to its claim that "it offers something for everyone and is excellent for families".

Shopping: Barrow is good for shopping. Major high street names mingle with local specialist shops in a spacious pedestrianised town centre. The big names are in Portland Walk and Dalton Road, whilst surrounding streets offer a wide variety of independent retailers offering value, variety and personal service. For the bargain hunter, Barrow's Indoor Market has 80 stalls and is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Theatre and arts: Throughout the year the town hosts arts events, street entertainment and festivals. A guide to what's going on can be found and browsed at

Forum Twenty Eight is Barrow's main theatre and arts venue with a varied programme of music, dance, comedy and drama events, staged by touring and local companies. There are also regular exhibitions, with rooms available for hire for corporate and social events. Tel. 01229 820000

Sightseeing: Piel Castle is a 14th century defensive stronghold built by Furness Abbey and now owned by English Heritage on remote Piel Island, which can be reached by ferry from Roa Island, three miles southeast of Barrow on the A5087 (turn off at Rampside, signposted "Lifeboat Station"). It's an interesting journey and once there, you can look at the keep and then refresh yourself at the Sun Inn (where you can camp and maybe meet the King Of Piel). Phone: 01229 835809.

Festival of the Sea: Since the sea is so important to Barrow, no wonder they have a festival to celebrate it. A full and updated list of festival events can be found at

Nature reserves: Barrow can now boast three internationally renowned coastal nature reserves.

6 Cartmel Village and Priory (Cartmel)

The beautiful Priory Church is right in the middle of this wonderful little village. It's over 800 years old, originally an outpost of Furness Abbey, and a fascinating mixture of Norman, Early English and Decorated styles, with a truly impressive nave. There is also some excellent wood carving, especially the misericords, which shows the wealth of the Furness Abbey monks.

Cartmel village, based around the cobbled Elizabethan Market Square, is a pleasant place, with lots of pubs and shops which offer a variety of Lakeland products. There's also a couple of antique shops. If you venture out of the village, you'll find the River Eea, surrounded by beautiful countryside and many great walks.

7 Holker Hall (Grange-over-Sands)

Lord and Lady Cavendish still make their home here, and welcome visitors (though probably not personally) to see what the hose has to offer - which is quite a lot, actually. Holker is certainly one of the most interesting Lakes houses, just over a mile north of the village of Cark-in-Cartmel. It's a vast sandstone hall made up of an eclectic mixture of styles, and it overlooks some absolutely superb gardens. Having said that, only a part of the house is open to the public, a wing built as recently as 1871, though with Louis XV furniture and fitments from much earlier periods. Look out for the cantilevered staircase and the magnificent library, with over 3000 leather bound books.
The gardens sit in a warm micro-climate, and accordingly maintain their finery through the seasons, though they are of course at their best in May, when you can enjoy The Holker Garden Festival, one of the best shows of its kind in the North.
Next to the house, the award-winning Lakeland Motor Museum features the "Campbell Legend Bluebird Exhibition", plus over one hundred historic vehicles and 30,000 articles of motoring memorabilia. The Courtyard Café is a delightful place to eat, the Holker Food Hall offers tempting treats to purchase, and the Gift Shop has many items hand-selected by Lady Cavendish.
Holker Hall, Cark in Cartmel, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria LA11 7PL.
Phone: 015395 58328 for the Hall and Gardens, and 015395 58509 for the Lakeland Motor Museum.

8 Art Crystal (Grange-over-Sands)

One of the five master crystal engravers left in the UK works here, creating masterpieces right in front of you. You can have a piece engraved, or purchase any of the special pieces featuring Lake District scenes.
Main Street, Grange-over-Sands
Phone: 015395 35656 Web:

9 Lakeland Miniature Village (Flookburgh)

The kids found this fascinating. This is Cumbria's only miniature village, and it contains over 120 buildings made from Coniston slate. Houses, farms, barns, bridges and even wishing wells with delightful water features recreate the Lakeland landscape. It's hand-crafted by Edward Robinson.
The Coach House, Winder Lane, Flookburgh, Cumbria.
Phone: 015395 58500 Web:

10 Dalton-in-Furness

This is the ancient capital of Furness, though to be truthful it's more likely to be a stopping place en route to other destinations. The 14th century castle, which overlooks the square, is the most notable feature here; if you walk up to see it, you'll encounter the parish church, St Mary's, where George Romney, the portrait artist, is buried in the grounds. Other things of interest include the town's many specialist shops, inns and pubs, and an excellent leisure centre with a family pool. Dalton is also home to the South Lakes' Wild Animal Park (see below). Festivals are held in the town throughout the year and include the Charter Festival, the Town Criers Competition, Ale Tasters Award, Christmas Torchlight Procession, and the Christmas Tree Festival.

11 South Lakes Wild Animal Park (Dalton-in-Furness)

This is an amazing place, and it's a pity it isn't a bit nearer the centre of the Lakes, for it deserves all the visitors it gets. Practising real conservation, and caring for the animals in wonderful ways that other zoos might do well to emulate, the animal park offers something for everyone, from a train ride and pets corner for the little ones to the spectacle of the tigers being fed in a unique way that enhances their fitness and fulfils their instincts. As they say: "We have the fittest and wildest Amur and Surnatran tigers in Europe. See them climbing 6 metres up a vertical tree to "catch" their food. Watch this unique method of enrichment feeding at 2.30pm every day." They also have penguins, lemurs, hippos, rhinos, snakes, giraffes. Highly recommended: whatever you think of zoos, this might just change your mind, for it is real conservation in action. A Top Attraction.
South Lakes Wild Animal Park, Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA15 8JR
Phone: 01229 466086 Web:

12 Steam Yacht Gondola (Coniston Water)

This is a relaxing and graceful way to travel, in an "original" steamboat, rebuilt from the original Victorian Gondola by the National Trust. Gondola calls in at Brantwood (where you can get discounted admission, as you can at the Ruskin Museum). All sailings are subject to weather conditions.
Steam Yacht Gondola, Pier Cottage, Coniston
Phone: 015394 41288 Email: Web:

13 Brantwood (Coniston)

Brantwood, (John Ruskin's home 1872 - 1900), is one of the most beautifully situated houses in the lake District (perhaps rivalled most closely by Blackwell at Windermere). I can thoroughly recommend a day or half-day trip. Ruskin was an interesting man, a visionary, well ahead of his time, and the story of his life and decline into reclusiveness, if not madness, is fascinating. The house is very interesting, with a video exhibit on his philosophy and principles, rooms of his paintings and various memorabilia. Ruskin championed the pre-Raphaelites and Turner, so it's no surprise to find the house full of furniture and art which testify to his aesthetic sensibilities. Once you've enjoyed the house, you can also explore the estate and gardens. If you want to enjoy some contemporary art, there's the Severn Studio. In addition, there's a bookshop, the Jumping Jenny restaurant and the Coach House craft gallery for you to look around.
Brantwood Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8AD
Phone: 015394 41396 Fax: 015394 41263 Email: Web:

14 Coniston Launch (Coniston Water)

Cruise quietly on 1920s launches, now powered by solar electric power. You can glide along Coniston Water for a round trip or you can stop off at one of seven jetties including Brantwood - discounted house tickets can be purchased on the boats. Since Arthur Ransome partly based his books here, you can look at Wildcat Island of Swallows and Amazons fame; you can also follow the course over which Donald Campbell tried to break the water speed record and died in the attempt. The boats are great fun and give you a different perspective of Coniston and the hills around the Lake.
For brochures, timetables and bookings on the Coniston Launch:
Phone/Fax: 015394 36216

15 The Ruskin Museum (Coniston)

An award winning small museum, this excellent attraction tells the story of Coniston and its local heroes. Indeed, socialist philosophy espousing the dignity of man, and human heroism combine in the lives and achievements of Coniston's famous son's: John Ruskin and Donald Campbell. In addition, you can find out all about geology, copper mines, slate quarrying, stone walls and Langdale linen.
The Institute, Yewdale Road, Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8DU Phone: 015394 41164
Open daily March to November, 10.00 - 17.30; Winter: Wednesday - Sunday inclusive, 10.30 - 15.30. Please phone to check times.
Ruskin Museum, Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8DU
Directions: A593 from A591 at Ambleside; A595 & A593 from A590 at Greenodd; B5285 from Hawkshead.
Phone: 015394 41164 Web:

16 Grizedale Forest (near Rusland and Hawkshead)

Grizedale Forest has much to offer all ages and abilities: way-marked walking and cycling trails, orienteering courses, play area, cafe, bike hire and shop, the exciting and entertaining "Go Ape" high wire adventure, shop, visitor centre, picnic areas, 90 forest-based sculptures, an exhibition, a sixteen bunk hostel, education service, rooms for hire, guided walks and activities plus big events such as car rallies, mountain bike challenges and husky races.....(husky races?!)
Well, that's what the brochure says, and having spent a lot of time in the forest over the years, I can recommend it from personal experience. The walks are delightful, and if there aren't many people around you might even see some native wildlife: whether you do or not, it's a wonderful environment for getting away from it all. There's a remarkable sculpture collection, which has been in development since 1977. Some of the work is surprising, some of it grandiose, some of it startling: it's all based on the response of the sculptors to the natural environment. All credit to the Forestry Commission, or whatever it calls itself these days, for its enterprise and imagination in opening a publicly owned forest up on such a large scale.
Grizedale Forest, Hawkshead, Ambleside, LA22 OQJ
Phone: 01229 860010 Email: Web:

17 Broughton-in-Furness & The Duddon Valley, plus Broughton Mills and Woodland

Broughton Village lies at the top of the estuary of the River Duddon, the fells and sea combining to create the scenery so loved by William Wordsworth. A conservation area within the Lake District National Park, Broughton is a delightful mix of shops, pubs, cafes and quality accommodation. A lovely rural area well worth the visit.

You can get a leaflet called "Three Jewels of Lakeland" (i.e. the Duddon Valley, Broughton Mills and Woodland), which offers 16 excellent walk routes! The leaflet gives clear route details, illustrations and points and items of interest, plus history, geology, wildlife and sheep-farming information on this remote and unspoilt corner of Cumbria. If you're staying for a few days, there are plenty of good accommodation options available locally.
The walks guide is available from and local tourist information centres.
Phone: Broughton Tourist Information Centre 01229 716115

18 Stott Park Bobbin Mill (near Lakeside and Newby Bridge, south end of Lake Windermere)

You can enjoy a fascinating visit to one of the best preserved genuine early steam-powered 19th century working wood mills. In an inclusive 45 minute guided tour you'll learn the fascinating story of the cotton industry, wooden bobbin manufacturing and the people who worked here. There's an exhibition and shop, and the mill is set in lovely scenery - it's perfect for a picnic! Steam days: Monday to Thursday. The mill is located only 1 mile from Lakeside Steamer Pier where you can find regular steamers to and from Bowness and Ambleside. A Top Attraction!
Stott Park Bobbin Mill, Newby Bridge, Cumbria
Phone: 015395 31087 Web:

19 Fell Foot Country Park (near Lakeside and Newby Bridge, south end of Lake Windermere)

Come and explore this Victorian park on the east shore of Lake Windermere. A great place for the family with boat hire, children's activities and adventure play area. Fantastic view of the Lakeland Fells. And the flowers produce a wonderful riot of colour in springtime and early summer.
Fell Foot Park, Newby Bridge, Ulverston, Cumbria Phone: 015395 31273 Fax: 015395 39926
Email: Web:

19 a Fell Foot: 4 Winds Lakeland Tipis Now here's something different. How about life in a tip (or teepee)? This company are the leaders in Tipi tenting and operate from a site near Fell Foot. They chose their site for its magnificent views, forest areas, superb natural environment and basic facilities. They like to claim they have brought Native American style into the centre of the Lake District! You can stay there in a group, hire the tipis, use them as nomadic dwellings and have them sited where you wish for your function. Very unusual, very functional. Contact them through their website: and see if your dreams can come true.

20 Lakes Aquarium (Lakeside, south end of Lake Windermere)

Explore the lakes of the world and discover some incredible creatures – from otters in Asia, piranhas in the Americas and cheeky marmosets in the rainforest. Not forgetting all your favourite creatures that live a bit closer to home, including diving ducks in the spectacular underwater tunnel, as well as seahorses and rays at the seashore. Remember to pay a visit to the world’s first Virtual Dive Bell. Experience a spectacular interactive adventure and come face to face with awesome virtual creatures including a terrifying shark, charging hippo and fierce crocodile – without getting wet!
Lakes Aquarium, Lakeside, Newby Bridge, Cumbria, UK, LA12 8AS
Phone: 015395 30153

21 Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway Company (Lakeside, south end of Lake Windermere)

Lovingly restored steam locomotives haul comfortable coaches through the contrasting lake and river scenery of the beautiful Leven Valley. From the Victorian station at Haverthwaite, through scenic Newby Bridge to the terminus at Lakeside the southern tip of Windermere, it's a journey not to be missed. Connections with Windermere Lake Cruises available at Lakeside.
For timetable info contact: Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway Company Ltd, Haverthwaite Station, Newby Bridge, Cumbria, LA12 8AL
Phone: 015395 31594 Web:

22 Windermere Lake Cruises (Lakeside, Bowness, and Ambleside)

Steamers and launches sail daily between Ambleside, Bowness and Lakeside with connections for the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway, Aquarium, Felt Foot, Fell House (with connecting bus service for Hilltop and Hawkshead) and the Lake District Visitor Centre (Brockhole). Lakeside is signposted from the M6 (Junction 36).
Timetables on request: Windermere Lake Cruises, Lakeside, Newby Bridge, Cumbria, LA12 8AS
Phone: 015395 31188 Email: Web:

23 Colony Country Store (Lindal in Furness)

Scented Candles, gifts, cards and home accessories. You can see how candles are made, and buy bargains in the factory shop. There's a cafe and a new exhibition - "Secret Land, Secret Light" - where you can learn about the history of Low Furness and glimpse the factory at work through the viewing window.
Lindal-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA12 OLD
Phone: 01229 461102 Web:

24 Conishead Priory & Buddhist Temple (near Ulverston)

Conishead Priory is a superb example of an early Victorian Gothic Mansion. It is now home to an international Buddhist Centre and a unique Temple. We offer a fascinating one hour guided house and Temple tour. You can stroll through our beautiful grounds and woodlands to the edge of Morecambe Bay, visit the gift shop, and enjoy tea and cakes in the conservatory cafe.
Conishead Priory, Priory Road, Ulverston, Cumbria LA12 9QQ (Take the A5087 coastal route to Barrow from Ulverston.)
Phone: 01229 584029 Web: Email:

25 The World Peace Cafe (Ulverston)

The cafe, serving only the finest organic vegetarian food and speciality teas and coffees, is a peaceful oasis where you can relax and unwind.
World Peace Cafe & Meditation Centre, Cavendish St, Ulverston
Phone: 01229 587793 Web:

27 The Lakes Glass Centre (Ulverston)

A unique opportunity to visit two working glass factories in one convenient location. Cumbria Crystal produces high quality full lead crystal tableware and giftware whilst Heron Glass specialises in coloured art glass and lighting. Both have their own factory shop with products at discounted prices. Together they offer the widest range of glassware in the region. Visit The Lighthouse Restaurant & Cafe for a warm welcome and a varied menu of freshly prepared food. Visit the Gateway To Furness Exhibition - a snapshot of history of Ulverston.
The Lakes Glass Centre, Oubas Hill, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 7LY
Phone: 01229 581121

28 Laurel & Hardy Museum (Ulverston)

The world famous museum devoted to Laurel and Hardy is located in Ulverston, the town where Stanley was born on 16th June 1890. Everything you wanted to know about them is here. The Late Bill Cubin, founder of the museum, devoted his life to these world famous comedians and stars of silent movies and then "talkies" as they were first known. He collected an amazing variety of memorabilia, believed to be the largest in the world, including letters, photographs, personal items and furniture. There's also a small cinema showing films and documentaries, which run all day.
Laurel & Hardy Museum, 4c Upper Brook Street, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 7BH
Phone: 01229 582292 Web:

29 Ulverston - Festival Town & Historic Market Town

Ulverston is South Lakeland's friendly and historic market town with its own unique charm and atmosphere and with plenty to see and do. A colourful street market is held on the cobbled streets on Thursdays and Saturdays and an indoor market is open 5 days a week. Discover friendly specialist shops selling high quality, unique products and welcoming cosy pubs, cafes and restaurants all offering a wide selection of food and drink amidst the fascinating ginnels and cobbled streets. Ulverston is the birthplace of comic Legend Stan Laurel, and the world famous Laurel and Hardy Museum is based in the heart of the town. It is also famous as the town that invented pole vaulting! The Coronation Hall is an imposing 636-seat theatre providing a wide variety of entertainment adjacent to the 1930's style Roxy Cinema which screens feature films and hosts a monthly film club.

Ulverston Tourist Information Centre, Coronation Hall, County Square, Ulverston, Cumbria
Phone: 01229 587120 Email: Web:

30 The Princess Selandia

The Princess Selandia offers the opportunity for dining in a gracious old ship, now safely moored alongside the quay at Barrow. The ship will transport you back to a more gracious way of life as you enjoy a traditional English tea, served in the Royal Stateroom, or you can dine more substantially in the fine restaurants, either in traditional or modern style. It's worth having a look at the website to see which of the facilities you want to enjoy and then phoning to ensure space is available before you go along. Great fun and highly recommended.
There are also full conference facilities available on board.
Town Quay, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, LA14 2HF
Phone: 01229 835449 Email: Web: