Public Playgrounds

Public Playgrounds

The north-west of England was home to the first purpose built public playground, which opened in Manchester in 1859. Since then, playgrounds have appeared all over the UK and around the world, and have become a valuable community resource.

The Lake District is home to numerous parks, and a good number of them include play areas that are cherished by both local residents and visiting tourists. Many are maintained by the local parish, borough, or county councils, with others operated by charitable trusts or the national park authority. All of the playgrounds we list here are free to enter, but there may be additional charges for some features, such as coin operated remote controlled boats, and for parking.

Benefits of Playgrounds

There has been a lot of research undertaken into the benefits of having free, public playgrounds available in local communities. As well as encouraging physical fitness in children, it’s understood that playgrounds also help to develop a child’s social skills, such as how to share equipment, or play in a way that keeps others safe. For parents, playgrounds offer an easy, free way to entertain children. They are particularly handy for when you want to fill an short space of time, or to break up a day looking around shops and museums.

Where to Find Playgrounds in the Lake District

In the Lake District and Cumbria, almost all of the larger villages and towns have at least one play area. In this list, we have covered play areas in the National Park boundary, as well as those in the major towns in Cumbria. Most, normally include standard play equipment, such as swings or slides, with many hosting additional play structures, such as balance beams, climbing towers or sand pits.

The Lake District National Park

Rothay Park – Ambleside

Close to the centre of Ambleside and surrounded by the dramatic scenery of the fells, Rothay Park is named after the river that runs through it. Here you will find a well-equipped play area with swings, slides, and climbing structures. The park has some large open spaces that are great for ball games or just running around.

  • Address: Vicarage Rd, Ambleside, LA22 9DH
  • Parking: Pay and display parking is available at various places in Ambleside, with Kelsick Road being the closest
  • Facilities: Public toilets, various cafés, etc. can be found in Ambleside

Langrigge Playground – Windermere

Convenient for the shops, this small playground is located behind Crags Brow, where you will find a number of specialist shops and art galleries. The park is accessed via Langrigge Drive, and there are climbing structures, swings and bouncy chairs. It’s a great place to take children who are becoming restless in the shops.

  • Address: Langrigge Drive, Windermere, LA23 3AH
  • Parking: Various pay and display car parks are available in Windermere
  • Facilities: None; Facilities are available in Windermere

Queen’s Park – Windermere

Queen’s Park is a large open space that is located just a few minutes walk from Windermere train station. The play area has a good selection of equipment, including separate slides for older and younger children, a bouncy play car, swings and a roundabout. There is also a skate park adjacent to the playground.

  • Address: Park Road, Windermere, LA23 2AW
  • Parking: Free on-street parking available on Park Road
  • Facilities: None; Facilities are available in Windermere

Fell Foot Park – Lake Windermere

Fell Foot Park is owned by the National Trust and located on the southern end of Lake Windermere. The playground features climbing structures, scrambling nets, balance beams, and swings. The park is also a popular walking area and there is access to the shore of Lake Windermere.

  • Address: Newby Bridge, Windermere, LA12 8NN
  • Parking: Pay and Display parking on site; Free to NT members
  • Facilities: Café, gift shop, row boat hire, toilets with baby changing stations

Brockhole – Lake Windermere

As part of the Lake District National Park Authority’s visitor centre, the playground at Brockhole is one of the best equipped play areas in the county. There is a huge structure for older children resembling a fort with towers to climb, tunnels to explore, and rope bridges to cross. Younger children have a separate play area with smaller climbing structures, swings, and bouncy seats. Brockhole is packed with plenty of other activities for adults and children to enjoy.

  • Address: Brockhole Visitor Centre, Windermere, LA23 1LJ
  • Parking: Pay and display parking at the visitor centre
  • Facilities: Café, toilets and a range of other activities available

Fitz Park – Keswick

Handy for visitors to Keswick town centre, Fitz Park is popular amongst local residents thanks to the large play area that sits in a sandpit. Children love to spend hours here digging with either their own toys, or the shovels that are attached to some of the climbing structures. There are swings, slides, see-saws and even low level climbing walls with separate areas for older and younger children.

  • Address: Station Road, Keswick, CA12 4NF
  • Parking: Keswick Leisure Centre has the nearest pay and display parking and is adjacent to the park
  • Facilities: Café with toilets, BMX track and sports field

Broadgate Meadow – Grasmere

Located on the edge of the village of Grasmere, and bordered by the River Rothay, Broadgate Meadow features a large open space with a well-equipped children’s play area. There are swings, including a full harness seat swing, slides, play houses and see saws. This park is worth combining with a visit to Grasmere to sample the world famous gingerbread.

  • Address: Broadgate, Grasmere, LA22 9TA
  • Parking: Pay and display parking is available next to the park
  • Facilities: None at the park; Toilets, cafés, etc. in the village

Dalegarth Station – Holmrook (Eskdale)

The terminus for the Ravenglass to Eskdale Steam Railway is a great start or end point for a stroll through some picturesque countryside. The station has a small playground that features play structures designed to resemble steam trains, as well as a slide and climbing tower. The station also has a café.

  • Address: Holmrook, CA19 1TG
  • Parking: Small car park at the station, but visiting the park is best combined with a railway ride from Ravenglass
  • Facilities: Café and toilets at the station

Ravenglass Playground – Ravenglass

The playground at Ravenglass is a great place for little legs to run around when waiting for their train ride on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Steam Railway. The park is located at one end of the station, and features slides, swings and climbing nets. The nearby beach is also a lovely place to explore.

  • Address: Ravenglass, CA18 1SW
  • Parking: Parking is available at the railway station
  • Facilities: Café, toilets at the station

West Cumbria

Harris Park – Cockermouth

Popular with local residents, the play area features a wood chip ground with slides, swings, see-saws, and two large climbing structures, and is a five-minute walk from the town centre. The river Cocker runs through the park and there is a small woodland to explore.

  • Address: Cockermouth, CA13 0DR
  • Parking: Free, time limited on-street parking on Fern Bank and Parkside Avenue
  • Facilities: None in park; Sainsburys is approximately 5 minutes’ walk and has toilets with baby changing facilities

Memorial Gardens – Cockermouth

Just two minutes’ walk from the town centre, this park has rubber tarmac flooring and the play equipment includes a roundabout, slide, climbing frames and swings. The River Derwent runs through the park and there is a large open grassed area for play / picnics.

  • Address: Cockermouth, CA13 0HR
  • Parking: Pay and display parking at Wakefield Road car park, adjacent to the park
  • Facilities: None in park; Public toilets are available on Main Street, across the footbridge leading from the park

Silloth Green – Silloth

Cumbria might be better known for its lakes rather than its beaches, but at Silloth, a large village on the West Cumbrian coast, you can enjoy an ice cream on the promenade whilst your children explore the delights of Silloth Green. Here you will find a woodland adventure playground with rope bridges and climbing frames, and a huge splash area for warmer weather, with a rubber tarmac surface and various fountains and jets that children can activate. There is usually a bouncy castle here during the summer.

  • Address: Silloth, CA7 4AB
  • Parking: Free on-street parking along Criffel Street, which runs along one edge of the green
  • Facilities: Toilets, café and amusement arcade

Vulcan Park – Workington

Workington, a small town on the West Cumbrian coast, has a good selection of shops should you need to stock up, and the town’s park is a two-minute walk from the main shopping precinct. Here you will find a good selection of climbing frames, swings, slides and a roundabout. There is also a free outdoor gym for older children and adults.

  • Address: Vulcan’s Lane, Workington, CA14 2QA
  • Parking: Free on-street parking on Vulcan’s Lane and surrounded streets, limited to 1 hour, with a parking disc displayed (available from local libraries, shops and tourist information offices)
  • Facilities: Toilets, café

Shiver Me Timbers – Maryport

Avast, me hearties! Prepare to set sail at Shiver Me Timbers, Maryport’s pirate themed adventure play area. Adjacent to the Lake District Coast Aquarium, this large play area features climbing structures designed to resemble pirate ships, with a smaller version for younger children. There are slides, swings, and rope bridges to climb. Best combined with a visit to the aquarium or a walk along the harbour.

  • Address: South Quay, Maryport, CA15 8AB
  • Parking: Free parking is available for those visiting the aquarium; Alternatively, the harbour has numerous pay and display parking spaces
  • Facilities: None on site; Café and toilets are available in the aquarium

Castle Park – Whitehaven

Whitehaven’s Castle Park is a few minutes’ walk from the marina and the main shopping centre. There is a large play area here that has been refurbished in recent years and features separate areas for older and younger children, with swings, slides, climbing and balance structures, and spinning chairs. The castle itself is a private property and not open to the public.

  • Address: Flatt Walks, Whitehaven, CA28 7RA
  • Parking: None at the site, nearest pay and display parking is at Castle Meadows, which is a 5-minute walk
  • Facilities: None

St Bees Play Area – St Bees

Overlooking the long sandy beach of St Bees, the play area in this picturesque village on the West Cumbrian coast will be a hit for children once they tire of exploring the sand and rock pools. You will find a mock ship, an agility course, swings, zip wires, and spinning chairs.

  • Address: The Seafront, St Bees, CA27 0EY
  • Parking: Pay and display parking is available at the sea front, next to the park
  • Facilities: Café and public toilets on the sea front

East Cumbria

Bitts Park – Carlisle

Devastated by the 2015 floods, Bitts Park has since been completely refurbished. The new play area features a huge range of equipment suitable for all ages, and includes items suitable for children with disabilities. There are swings, slides, trampolines, sand diggers, and a splash park. The River Eden runs through the park and there are delightful open areas to explore, as well as a mini golf course and tennis courts.

  • Address: Dacre Rd, Carlisle, CA3 8UZ
  • Parking: Pay and display parking at Dacre Road, adjacent to the park
  • Facilities: Refreshments kiosk, toilets.

Chances Park – Carlisle

Also known as Morton Park, Chances Park in Carlisle was created when the owner of Morton Hall left the property and its grounds to the people of Carlisle. The play area here is fairly large, and has been refurbished in recent years, with swings, slides, and a large wooden climbing structure made from an ancient oak tree that once stood in the park but was sadly condemned due to disease. You will also find delightful gardens to explore, and a mini all-weather sports pitch.

  • Address: Wigton Road, Carlisle, CA2 6JP
  • Parking: Free parking is available at the park
  • Facilities: None on site

Hammonds Pond – Carlisle

With free parking, a miniature railway, and a duck pond where you can feed the birds, Hammond’s Pond in Carlisle is a delightful place to visit for families. The playground has separate areas for younger and older children, with plenty of climbing structures, slides, and swings to keep them occupied. There’s also a huge climbing net tower for older children to conquer, and within the park grounds the miniature railway operates in the summer months.

  • Address: Blackwell Road, Carlisle, CA2 4SD
  • Parking: Two car parks, one off Blackwell Road, one of Buchanan Road, both with free parking
  • Facilities: Café, toilets, sports pitches and courts

Penrith Castle Park – Penrith

Just across the road from Penrith’s train station, Penrith Castle Park is home to the ancient ruins of Penrith Castle, and along with the landscaped gardens there is a well-equipped play area for children. The playground features swings, slides, and climbing frames, and once the children have finished on the play equipment, they can also explore the castle ruins, for which there is no charge.

  • Address: Castlegate, Penrith, CA11 8PS
  • Parking: Limited, free on-street parking at Ullswater Road, where you will find the park entrance; Additional pay and display parking in Penrith town centre
  • Facilities: Toilets, kiosk, mini golf

Abbot Hall Park – Kendal

Adjacent to the Abbot Hall Art Gallery, Abbot Hall Park has a large play area with plenty to keep children occupied. There are swings, a roundabout, rope bridges, and a tunnel slide. There is also a large open grassed area for playing sports or enjoying a picnic.

  • Address: Kendal, LA9 5AL
  • Parking: Pay and display parking is available at Peppercorn Lane car park
  • Facilities: None at the park; Facilities are available in Abbot Hall Art Gallery

The Lakes Peninsulas

Ford Park – Ulverston

Owned and maintained by a community based charity, Ford Park in Ulverston features a play area that is designed to bring children closer to nature. The purpose-built wooden climbing structures combine with the natural features of the park to create an open space for children to explore safely, and there’s a zipline that will test their courage. In addition, the park is home to a nature trail and kitchen garden.

  • Address: Ulverston, LA12 7JP
  • Parking: Free parking is available at the site
  • Facilities: Café, toilets with baby changing facilities.

Dalton Leisure Centre – Dalton-In-Furness

Dalton Leisure Centre has a number of features that will appeal to families, and the free, outdoor playground is certainly one of them. The slide is perhaps one of the tallest in Cumbria, towering over the rest of the play equipment that includes swings, climbing nets, and an area for younger children.

  • Address: Chapel Street, Dalton-in-Furness, LA15 8DA
  • Parking: Free parking available at the leisure centre if you are using the services there, alternative on-street parking is available on Chapel Street
  • Facilities: Café and toilets inside the leisure centre

Barrow Park – Barrow-In-Furness

Barrow Park is an award winning park just a few minutes away from the town’s train station. Along with ornamental gardens, bowling and putting greens, and a miniature railway, there is a large playground. Here you will find separate climbing structures for older and younger children, swings, slides, balance beams and picnic tables. The 45-acre park is also home to a skate park and a display glasshouse.

  • Address: Park Ave, Barrow-in-Furness, LA13 9BJ
  • Parking: Free on street parking along Park Avenue
  • Facilities: Café, toilets with baby changing

The Promenade – Grange Over Sands

The coastal town of Grange-Over-Sands sits on the northern edge of Morecambe Bay, and the promenade takes you along the coast, through ornamental gardens. There is a play area here for children with swings, slides, and separate climbing structures for younger and older children. There is also an outdoor gym here suitable for older children and adults.

  • Address: The Promenade, Grange Over Sands, LA11 7DH
  • Parking: Some free, time-limited parking available in nearby streets; Pay and display parking on Kents Bank Road
  • Facilities: Public toilets, Café