Guest post by Head of E-Commerce, Khalid Amin
I’m a big Lake District fan, but I hadn’t visited the beautiful northern lakes for over 10 years. We stayed about 5 minutes away from Keswick in the small but perfectly formed village of Braithwaite at the foot of Whinlatter Pass. Braithwaite has a magnificent mountain backdrop and is the perfect base for a spot of enjoying the great British outdoors. You can walk straight onto the hills and the village has 3 pubs, 2 of which we sampled. I’ve consulted the family and this is our verdict on family friendly days out around Keswick.
Walking up Barrow Fell
Walking up Barrow fell is a terrific first family hill walk. The walk starts and ends at Braithwaite village, at 455 metres you get wonderful 360 degree views at the summit but the slopes are not steep and the kids who are aged 6 and 9 found it challenging but really enjoyable. With a picnic stop at the top it took us around 3 hours, the summit has tremendous views over Keswick, Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite Lake. We’re not big hill walkers but this was a lovely day out with a stunning views. You can get full details of the walk here.
For a well-deserved drink or food stop try the Royal Oak in Braithwaite, I can recommend the Cumberland sausage and the local brew from Cumbrian brewery, Jennings.
Lake District Wildlife Park, Bassentwaite
The Lake District wildlife park is set in 25 acres of beautiful Cumbrian countryside. The park used to be called Trotters World of Animals and is now celebrating its 20th birthday. What makes it different to other zoos and wildlife parks is the huge amount of space the animals have to roam, seeing a zebra with a Lakes backdrop is quite a sight. The park also puts on lots of displays and chances to interact with the animals – we got up close with snakes, reptiles and rabbits (not together). The keepers were really knowledgeable and engaging when talking about the animals, both kids and adults loved it. The highlight of the day was watching an impressive bird of prey display starring Jasper the buzzard. At £8.95 it’s also very good value!
Cycling from Keswick to Threlkeld
This traffic free cycle route follows the path of the disused railway from Keswick to the village of Threlkeld. It’s a six mile round trip and surprisingly it’s relatively flat which is pretty good going for this part of the world. We hired bikes from the very friendly and helpful Whinlatter Bikes in Keswick – we got lucky with availability on the morning we cycled so I’d recommend booking in advance. It’s an easy ride through the lovely tree-clad Greta Gorge which passes over eight bridges on the way to Threlkeld. The village sits right in the shadow of the famous mountain, Blencathra. We rested our legs for a well-deserved cake and cuppa at the Threlkeld Village Hall which has terrific views. There’s more details and a map of the route here.
Described as Britain’s only true mountain forest, Whinlatter is managed by the Forestry Commission and is nestled half way along the Whinlatter Pass. We had a great day out on the clearly marked walking trails, which are tailored to suit all abilities. It’s not just walking either, there are mountain bike trails and a Go Ape for the more adventurous, infact our walk was punctuated by screams from people on the high wires. My wildlife crazy son had a great time keeping an eye out for red squirrels and looking at the Osprey nesting cameras in the visitor centre. With lots of car parking, good quality coffee in the café and an informative visitor centre you can easily spend a full day there.
I can’t recommend the northern lakes enough for a stunning UK break. You don’t have to be a hill-walking enthusiastic to enjoy it either. The views, the hills, the lake, great restaurants and pubs can all be enjoyed without a climb from the market town of Keswick. If you’re tempted you can see our full selection of hotels in the northern Lakes here.
Do you have a favourite spot in The Lake District? Let us know your family favourites in the comment box below!