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  • Kate

A break in the Lake District with kids

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

We have been to the Lake District a number of times with our hound however this was the first time we had ventured with the kids. I was quite worried about what there was to do up there with a 4yo and 1yo, however I was pleasantly surprised. Luckily, we stayed at a friends holiday home in Windermere itself. We are keen walkers and love being outdoors however I wasn't sure how far we could push our 4yo with mountains and hills.


Read on to find out more....


Day One

After a good nights sleep, our first adventure was Orrest Head. It was ideally positioned so we could walk there straight from our holiday home. And the start of the walk is conveniently located in Windermere so accessible from the centre (trains/buses etc). It is really well signposted and approx 3-4km in total (depending on which route you take). It is quite steep in some places and our 4yo managed it with no bother. Look out for the Gruffalo en route. The views are certainly worth the climb as you see out to the lake itself and the other fells in the distance. Unfortunately not one for buggies and no toilets. Dogs will love it though.


Lunch and refreshments were back in Windermere at Brown Sugar. Dogs are allowed outside. Highchairs available on request.


© KPainter


©️KPainter


©️KPainter


Day Two

Having being fortunate with the weather, we decided on another outdoor adventure. This time following a route to Rydal Water, the Caves and Rydal Mount. It was approx 4.8km (3 miles) in total and we decided to take a picnic to have half way around. (No buggy friendly im afraid!)


We parked at White Moss car park (chargeable) and followed our map around Rydal water (beautiful). Having read a lot of blogs online, we then went off piste to see Rydal Caves. THIS IS A MUST! If i can recommend anything during your trip to the Lakes, go and see these caves. Simply beautiful. Our 4yo absolutely loved it with stepping stones into the cave, having a good look around, splashing in water (take wellies if you want to paddle/wade) and climbing over the rocks out again.


We then stopped by a stream to have our picnic and carried on further until we reached The Badger Bar We didn't realise this was en route, but was a perfect pit stop for the toilet, an alcoholic drink and a rest. Really dog friendly (inside and out) and set among the rocks in a beautiful setting (albeit nr a main road). Our next bit of the walk took us to Rydal Hall and Mount (look out for the waterfall) again this is beautiful and ideal for a toilet stop if needed. Then it was a long trek along the 'coffin route' back to the car park. A well needed ice cream van was in the car park too. Phew.


Tea was at Cafe Italia in Windermere. A lovely Italian restaurant (dogs allowed outside, there are sheltered areas and patio heaters) with highchairs and children's portions.


©️KPainter


©️KPainter


©️KPainter


Day Three

After more research on the internet and we found Tarn Hows. A national Trust area of significant beauty. Chargeable parking (members free) but has toilets and a NT van for refreshments and ice creams.


This place is just stunning. A little easier on the legs as its mainly flat and could easily be done with a buggy too, its a good path all the way around (approx 3.7km). We even managed to feed some ducks too. Plenty of benches for pit stops and picnics. We took a blanket and had lunch at the top overlooking the lake.


If you are feeling adventurous (and don't have a buggy!) then there is also the Tom Gill waterfall to watch. However it is very rocky so easier for older legs (4+), but a stunning sight nevertheless. And its literally 5 mins off piste from Tarn Hows (signposted).


I would recommend arriving early as the car park is small and it gets very busy!


We nipped into Ambleside to have a look around the gift shops and stop for a drink at The Giggling Goose Cafe which is right on a stream. Child and dog friendly.


Tea was provided by The Mortal Man in Troutbeck. Go here for the views! The beer garden is fabulous and its very child and dog friendly throughout. (Changing facilities included nappies, wipes, bags etc)


©️KPainter

©️KPainter

©️KPainter


Day 4

Again, a beautiful sunny day so it would be rude not to do another walk. However we didn't want to tire our son out too much (he has coped amazingly so far!) so this time we found a walk from Coniston to Torver Jetty and a boat ride back.


Parking at Coniston Boating Centre (chargeable) and also has toilets, cafe and watersports/ boat hire. Now this is another fantastic walk and easily done with a pushchair if required (we had the sling) as its all well maintained paths and accessible. The walk takes you via a farm (tractors, chimneys and sheep to look at) and along the shore of Coniston Lake with the fells in the background. Its just so picturesque. We had a picnic by the lake watching all the people on water in boats, kayaks and canoes. Then arrived at Torver Jetty. The Coniston Launch offers a variety of cruises on the lake however we just opted for a single journey back to Coniston. Approx 25 mins and dogs are allowed on board. Our 4yo and 1yo loved it. Overall the walk and boat ride took abt 2-3 hrs max including picnic.


Back on dry land (and where we started) we stopped for refreshments (and a scone!) at the infamous Bluebird Cafe, right on the water. Dogs allowed outside. And ideal for feeding the ducks.


We then had a stroll into Coniston, via the playground (unfortunately no dogs allowed in) and a little pitstop at the Black Bull Inn.


Finally, we drove back towards Windermere and because it was a beautiful sunny day, we stopped for a drink at the Wateredge Inn in Ambleside. The beer garden is just fantastic, right on the lake with amazing views. It can get busy. Very child and dog friendly.


©️KPainter


©️KPainter

©️KPainter


Day Five

The weather took a turn but actually it was our day to come home so we packed up around lunchtime and headed home. It took us approx 3 hours including a stop for the children and lunch.


There you go, that's our whistle-stop tour of the lakes with children. It was absolutely fantastic and considering I was worried about the hills and walking, especially for our 4yo, it was amazing to find so much you can do without going for miles and miles. Also, I wouldnt worry about dog friendliness up there - i'm sure 99% of places allow dogs inside/outside (I saw so many signs) and they are allowed on boats and trains.


Upon research, the other recommendations I did find (maybe for next time) include:

  • Grizedale Forest - sounds a bit like Sherwood Pines with plenty of walking and cycling trails. But maybe consider this for a rainy day as the forest will provide a bit of shelter.

  • Hayes Garden World - again, maybe handy to save for a rainy day activity

  • The Lakeside & Haverthwaite railway - a bit further south but ideal indoor activity or combining with a boat cruise. (Dog friendly too)

  • Wray Castle - Unfortunately the buildings were closed on our visit but looks a fab day out, playground and even accessible by boat when they are open properly.


Finally, a Thanks to the following websites and bloggers for all the ideas and inspiration too:



(Note - please check destination information before travelling due to COVID restrictions)

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