Visiting us for October half term with the kids? You will find lots to keep young minds entertained here in the Lake District, and with Halloween just a few days after the half term holiday, many of the attractions are offering spooky themed events.

Furthermore, with the trees having shed their leaves, and puddles building up all over, it’s a great time to get out with your wellies and waterproofs for an autumnal walk with splashing and leaf kicking. Check out our top ten October half term activities and if you haven’t booked your break yet, now is the time!

1. Take a Spooky Train Ride

Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway

Check out the Ravenglass & Eskdale Ghost Train if you DARE!

Both the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway and the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway are experiencing signs of the paranormal this October half term: At the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, south of Windermere, witches, wizards, ghosts, and ghouls have been spotted along the tracks, and passengers are being advised to take care when travelling through the Haverthwaite tunnel as an abandoned haunted carriage has been spotted in the tunnel’s depths. What’s more, any children who are in fancy dress and accompanied by a full fee paying adult will receive a FREE train ticket, and FREE entry into the Lakes Aquarium. Check out the details for Witches & Wizards Week on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway website.

Over in the west of the Lake District, if you are feeling brave you can board the ghost train on the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. The ghost train departs Dalegarth station at 6pm, travelling through the Eskdale valley in darkness, where along the way you might spot some spooky characters. There are also spooky arts and crafts at Dalegarth station available before the departure of the train. You must book in advance and the ghost train is a one-way journey, so you will need to travel from Ravenglass to Dalegarth during the day. Further details and tickets are available on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway website.


2. Explore Autumnal Colours at Tarn Hows

Tarn Hows Woodland

Explore an Autumnal Tarn Hows

There’s something a little bit magical about Tarn Hows in the Autumn. Once owned by Beatrix Potter, the tarn is one of the most visited beauty spots in the Lake District. The tarn was once three smaller separate tarns, but the addition of a damn in the latter half of the 19th century created the single large tarn that is there today.

There are a number of spruce, larch, and pine plantations around the tarn, and therefore in autumn the surrounding landscape is ablaze with autumnal colours. If you can, visit early in the morning, when you are likely to encounter rising mists that create a mystical atmosphere. A circular walk is available that is suitable for pushchairs – check out our walking guide here.


3. Join a Masquerade Parade

Penrith Winter Droving

Photo thanks to Penrith Winter Droving

The Penrith Winter Droving coincides with the last Saturday of half term, and there is a lot for kids to see and do. Throughout the day there will be a large craft and food market in the town centre, along four temporary stages that will featuring various live music, dance, theatre and circus acts. Street performers and puppet shows will be found at several points in the town, and there is a fun fair.

During the day, visitors will be able to make masks to wear in the evening torchlight procession that will include giant animal shaped lanterns. It’s a great day out for the entire family and further information is available on the Penrith Winter Droving website.


4. Take Shelter at Rheged

Rheged October Half Term Schedule

Some of the events happening at Rheged this October Half Term

Sadly, in October good weather is far from guaranteed. If you fancy a day out of the elements then do check out what the Rheged Centre has to offer. This half term the indoor events and shopping centre is holding film screenings each day of the new Lego Ninjago movie and the cartoon rendition of Julia Donaldson’s much loved book, Room on the Broom. There are craft workshops, including wand making, unicorn plush toy making, pumpkin carving, and even photography workshops for children.

There are also Halloween themed discos, and the soft play centre will be open as usual. If you want to create a personal Christmas present for family members, then the pottery painting café on the top floor of Rheged is a lovely place to spend a couple of hours painting plates, mugs, plant pots and other items to take away. Rheged also has a delightful selection of shops where you will find some great ideas for Christmas presents. Check out what's happening this half term here.


5. Get Active at Whinlatter Adventure Club

Children in the Forest

This half term, Whinlatter Forest is running a special adventure club for children aged 7-12 years. Available Monday 23rd October to Wednesday 25th October the adventure club will be led by qualified leaders and will enable children to experience a range of woodland based activities, including den building, orienteering, and blindfolded trail walks.

Children can be dropped off at the ranger’s office at 10am, and collected at 4pm. The cost is £60 for the three-days. You must book your place in advance by contacting the Forestry Commission at Whinlatter on 01768778127.


6. Pick a Pumpkin

Walby Farm Park pumpkin patch

Pick a Pumpkin at Walby Farm Park

Over at Walby Farm Park, just east of Carlisle, there are some spooky goings on this half term. Children visiting the park can explore the farm’s pumpkin patch, pick a pumpkin, carve it, and take it home ready for Halloween. Furthermore, the farm park’s maze has been taken over by witches, and there are puzzles for children to solve. The park has indoor and outdoor play areas, plus plenty of animals to meet and greet. For more details, check out the Walby Farm website.


7. Feed Your Kids for Free

This October, half term kids eat for free when accompanied by a paying adult at the Bistro at the Distillery. The Lakes Distillery near Bassenthwaite has rapidly become one of the Lake District’s top attractions since it opened in 2014, and now offers a number of different whisky tours. If there is a whiskey fan in your family, we recommend he or she takes a tour whilst the rest of the family enjoys a walk along the shore of Bassenthwaite, and then you can all enjoy delicious food at the distillery’s popular bistro. Advanced booking is recommended. Visit the Bistro’s website for more information.


8. Get Messy at the South Lakes Safari Zoo

The recent controversies at the South Lakes Safari Zoo have understandably gained national attention and outrage. Following the removal of the zoo’s license, a group of staff came together to take over the ownership and management of the zoo, and subsequently, there have been significant improvements in how the welfare of the animals is managed. The zoo is open during half term and offering messy play sessions that are suitable for children aged five months and above.

It’s also worth noting that following the staff take over the zoo is now free to enter outside of the school holidays, and just £5 for adults during the school holidays, with children going free year round. You can learn more about what's happening on the official South Lakes Safari Zoo website.


9. Hunt for Spooky Pumpkins at Allan Bank

Allan Bank Pumpkins

Photo of Allan Bank by the National Trust

Allan Bank is located on the edge of the village of Grasmere, and was once occupied by William Wordsworth, his wife and children, and family friends, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Thomas De Quincey. Today, it is a National Trust property, devoid of original contents but with plenty of craft related activities for visitors to try.

This half term it has been reported that some strange, spooky pumpkins have been spotted in the woodland that surrounds the property. If you manage to spot six or more you can win a prize. Further details are available on the National Trust website.


10. Brave a Visit to a Haunted Castle

Haunted Muncaster

A Haunted Muncaster Castle

According to local folklore, Muncaster Castle is one of the most haunted castles in the country. If you are feeling brave this half term, you can visit the castle in the days leading up to Halloween for some ghost hunting. During the day, general ticket holders will see the Muncaster Monster Cabaret who will be performing astonishing tricks.

Furthermore, there will be a ghostly grotto, a scary alchemy show, scary story-telling in the churchyard, and a scary maze. Visitors can also pay extra to stay after normal closing time and experience an interactive ghost tour in association with the University of Cumbria Performing Arts department, that is guaranteed to give you the chills. Check out everything that is happening on the Muncaster Castle official website.