Cumbria: a County for Kids
Published: Saturday 31st May 2014
Written by: Betheny Ellis
The county of Cumbria is definitely a place for kids. The Lake District has countless acres of fells and fields for them to explore, and the many activities provided by the lakes and waters will tire out even the most energetic of children. But there is more to the county than just the National Park, and if you look a little closer there is a whole lot more for children to enjoy.
Lakeland Wildlife Oasis, close to Burton in Kendal, has a host of creatures, furred, feathered, scaled and gilled, just waiting to meet your children. The zoo is a great place for you to see everything from leafcutter ants to snow leopards, and there are plenty of handling opportunities too. It’s a place where you can get right in with the animals, butterflies flap softly around your head in the Butterfly House, while outside large birds and mara walk freely around the park.
A different type of animal experience can be had at the Lakes Aquarium, just north of Backbarrow. There are over 30 themed habitats to see, full of various wildlife, aquatic and otherwise. Otters play freely in their woodland home, while caiman and piranha eye you from behind the glass. One of the highlights is a walk through the underwater tunnel, so you can get a fish eye view of what the bottom of nearby Lake Windermere looks like.
Also near Backbarrow is the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, a place that will take you back to a golden age of steam, and introduce it to a whole new generation. The train chuffs its way through the trees around Windermere, giving you an insight into how rail travel used to be. At Haverthwaite there’s also an adventure playground, plus a chance for you to look around the engine shed at their collection of locomotives from the past.
Close to the Cumbrian village of Raughton Head is the Unthank Upfront Puppet Theatre. Children and adults alike will enjoy the spellbinding performances by the intricately detailed puppet characters, and once the show’s done adults can explore the art gallery and relax in the coffee shop while the children try out their new puppets bought from the gift shop.
It seems that all children were born to climb, and if yours are no different then take them to the Lakeland Climbing Centre near Longsleddale. They cater for all ages, though under eights must be strictly supervised by an experienced climber. They have several walls to tackle, including the tallest climbing wall in England, a 25m leading wall which has a large roof section, and overhanging jamming crack. You can also try Crazy Climb, or the new Via Ferrata which includes ladder climbs, swinging and free fall abseiling.
Back on terra firma is Gincase Farm Park, a great place for your youngsters to get to grips with what is a major industry in this rural county. There are ten acres and sixteen paddocks, all full of friendly farm animals. In Truffle’s Animal Barn children can pet donkeys, horses, pigs, rabbits and sheep, and at certain times of year even help bottle feed the baby lambs and goats and brush Harvey the Shetland Pony. Children can also have fun outside on quad bikes and go karts, and should the heavens open (always a risk in this part of the world) there is a giant barn containing a fantastic indoor play area.