School's out for summer! If you haven’t already planned a Lake District trip for you and your family during the long summer break then it’s not too late, with plenty of hotels, campsites, and lodges still available for booking. However, they are likely to sell out pretty fast, so don’t delay booking much longer to avoid disappointment.

On the other hand, if you have already booked then hopefully you are now focused on what to pack and your itinerary. It can be daunting trying to decide what to do when visiting the Lake District for the first time, especially when you have kids to consider, given the sheer size of the national park and the wider Cumbria area.

So, to help you plan your break we have picked out seven events, attractions, and activities that are ideal for families with children this summer. Some are planned events, whilst others require your own preparation.

1. Have a Mini Bushcraft Adventure at Crummock Water

Looking Down at Crummock Water

Looking Down at Crummock Water

If you or one of your family members ever fancy themselves as the next Ray Mears then consider spending one of your days having your own mini bushcraft adventure. Our Crummock Water Loop walk is a great place to do this type of activity as it is relatively short and combines woodland with lake shore. Whilst strolling through the woodland, try and get the family to build a den amongst the trees. We love the Forestry Commission’s “Den Commandments”, which has some top tips for building dens. Will you be brave enough to test your den with water as they suggest?

After you have finished building a den, gather bunches of smaller sticks to create rafts. You can either bring string with you (but you will need to fish the rafts out of the water to retrieve the string to take it home with you), or you can use long grass as string to tie the raft pieces together. Have a competition to see which raft can sail the furthest from the lake shore.

Finish up with a camp stove chocolate fondue. You will need a camp stove, such as a Trangia or a gas cannister stove, plus a pan, a 300ml tub of chocolate cream, a bag of chocolate chips, some skewers, and things to dip into the fondue, such as marshmallows, fruit, and biscuits. Heat up the cream on the pan and when it starts to simmer, stir in the chocolate buttons off the heat until all the chocolate has melted and mixed in. Do remember to only use your stove at the lake shore on the stones, and not near any trees, grass, ferns, or anything else that could catch fire.

2. Get Free Travel for Your Children on a Steamer or a Heritage Train

Steamboat in Ullswater

Steamboat in Ullswater

Both the Ullswater Steamers and the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway are offering free travel to accompanied children each Friday during the school summer holidays. The steamers, traditional boats dating back to the Victorian era, stop at various points around Ullswater, including Aira Force, where there is a fabulous child friendly walk up to a magnificent waterfall, and Pooley Bridge, where you will find a great selection of pubs and cafés.

The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, AKA La’al Ratty, is a narrow gauge railway that runs from the coastal town of Ravenglass up through the Eskdale Valley to the foot of Hardknott Pass. Again, there are plenty of family friendly walks in the area, and the stations have children’s play areas and cafés.

3. Travel by Boat & Bike to Wray Castle from Brockhole

Wray Castle

Wray Castle (acceleratorhams / Bigstockphoto.com)

Wray Castle on the western side of Lake Windermere is a great day out for the whole family. Outside, there is a natural play area, various trails, and access to the lake. Inside, there are exhibition rooms, and rooms with different activities, such as colouring, dressing up, and even a Peter Rabbit themed section. To make the day a bit more of adventure, consider getting the bike boat from Brockhole on the eastern shore to the jetty at Bark Barn and cycling along the shore to the castle.

At Brockhole, you can hire a range of bikes (full details available here), including bikes for children and adults with tag-alongs or trailers for younger children. The bike hire cost includes a ticket for the bike boat that will take you to the Bark Barn jetty on the western shore of the lake. The cycle route to Wray Castle is around 4.5 miles and on well-maintained bridleways and quiet country roads that are only used for access. The bike boat operates daily throughout the summer holidays.

4. Explore the Lake District’s History & More

Dove Cottage

Dove Cottage (TamiFreed / Bigstockphoto.com)

This long hot spell can’t last forever and rainy days are bound to return eventually, so having some indoor activities available, even as a backup, for your itinerary is a must. Thankfully, the Lake District has several museums where you can explore the history of the area and much more, all hosting family friendly activities this summer. The Keswick Museum will have a climbing wall outside the museum each Thursday and Saturday, costing £2 for two climbs.

The museum is also hosting family craft activities, including a fossil exploration session, and there is a trail to complete around the museum. Dove Cottage & the Wordsworth Museum is holding a family fun day each Thursday with crafts and games, as well as a three-day long culture camp for children to book onto. The Senhouse Roman Museum in Maryport has a packed calendar of events throughout the summer, including create your own Roman coins craft sessions, and meet a Roman soldier.

Alternatively, head over to Kendal to the Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry where families can learn how to make a rag rug, or enjoy a craft session inspired by the museum’s exhibition that celebrates the 100th anniversary since women got the right to vote.

5. Learn to Rock Climb, Sail, or Canoe/Kayak

Kayak in Ullswater

Kayak in Ullswater

The Lake District is one giant adventure playground and is the perfect place to learn a new outdoor skill. At the Glenridding Sailing Centre, sessions are being held every day for children to learn a combination of canoeing, kayaking, sailing, and rafting. The whole day sessions run from 10am until 5pm, and you can either book onto them on a daily basis, or have a full week of tuition.

If you prefer mountains to water, then there are several places where you and your family can learn to climb safely indoors before taking to the fells, including the Keswick Climbing Wall, Maryport Clip N Climb, and the Lakeland Climbing Wall in Kendal.

6. Get a Taste of Agricultural Life at a Country Show

Sheepdog Competitions at the Patterdale Dog Show in 2017

Sheepdog Competitions at the Patterdale Dog Show in 2017

The arrival of the summer holidays coincides with the busiest part of the show season calendar. Throughout the summer holidays, there are agricultural shows and fairs taking place at various towns and villages across Cumbria. They are usually a fun day out for the whole family, with fun activities to try, displays to watch, and trade stalls to browse.

For further details about what each show entails then check out our “What’s On” guides for July and August, covering each of the following shows:

  • Coniston Country Fair: Sunday, 22nd July
  • Ulverston & North Lonsdale Show: Wednesday, 25th July
  • Ambleside Sports: Thursday, 26th July
  • Penrith Show: Saturday, 28th July
  • Cartmel Show: Wednesday, 1st August
  • Cockermouth Show: Saturday, 4th August
  • Lowther Show: Saturday, 11th & Sunday 12th August
  • Gosforth Show: Saturday, 18th August
  • Lakeland Country Fair (Torver Show): Sunday, 19th August
  • Hawkshead Show: Tuesday, 21st August
  • Patterdale Dog Day: Saturday, 25th August
  • Grasmere Sports: Sunday, 26th August
  • Keswick Show: Monday, 27th August
  • Blackcombe Country Fair: Monday, 27th August
  • Ennerdale Show: Wednesday, 29th August

7. Enjoy an Animal Encounter

Sheep in the Lake District

If there are those in your family who love all creatures great and small then you could check out one of the Lake District’s wildlife parks, farm parks, or safari zoo. There are several farm parks, including the Gincase, Walby Farm Park, and the Lakeland Maze Park where you can get close to farm animals, with opportunities to feed and pet some of the creatures.

The Lake District Wildlife Park by Bassenthwaite has a fabulous collection of lemurs, birds of prey, and reptiles, with encounter experiences available for an additional charge. Finally, the South Lakes Safari Zoo has had a troubled couple of years but since last year significant changes and improvements, plus the arrival of a new management team, have led to the RSPCA closing its investigation into the welfare of the animals there, and it is certainly worth a visit once more.