With the lovely weather we have been having this week we knew we had to make the most of it before the forecast change at the weekend. So on the first day off we had off and free from other activities, we decided a day trip would be in order.
I had run a poll on Twitter- Lindisfarne or the Northern Lake District. Lindisfarne came out with a definite victory of 78% but on checking the tide times for Holy Island we decided that a 5am set off time to be able to spend any worthwhile amount of time on the island just wasn’t going to be doable.
So we went with option 2 and the promise that we would be up to visit Lindisfarne very soon.
Our morning didn’t start well. Even by following my advice in ‘How to get out of the house with a toddler’ we were over half an hour later leaving than planned. Mr TH picked up part baked croissants for breakfast- not much good when we were already on the road. To top off the start of the day Mr TH then managed to drive into the back of another car, thankfully at very low speed but just added to the delay.
The day could only get better!
I love the drive to the Lakes from Leeds. We follow the A65, passing through little market towns and villages with the occasional glimpse of mountains in front of us. This time we decided to take the ferry across Lake Windermere from Ferry Nab to Far Sawrey and it was lovely to stand at the front of the boat as we gently floated across the lake. There were a few squeals of ‘ooo see, water’ from the back seat too as monkey woke up from her nap.
We wanted to make the most of our National Trust membership so our plan for the day had been to go to Hill Top and the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead, a quick lunch at Chester’s by the River, a walk at Aira Force then stop off at Grasmere for the best Gingerbread in the world.
However, I hadn’t quite planned the day as well as I thought as when we arrived at Hill Top to find the house is closed on Friday’s outside of the main summer season.
We did however have a lovely peaceful (or as peaceful as it can be with a toddler) walk around ‘Mr McGregor’s’ garden in the sunshine. Monkey had taken her Flopsy bunny toy with her and we had fun pretending Flopsy was trying to eat the lettuces, until the inevitable tantrum because we didn’t want to climb the same two steps for the 50th time, just turn around and come back down them, for the 50th time.
It was time to move on and let other people enjoy the peaceful location…
Apparently, lots of National Trust properties are closed on a Friday out of the main summer season including our next planned visit to the Beatrix Potter Gallery. Thankfully a volunteer at Hill Top overheard our plans and pointed us in the direction of Wray Castle.
I had seen Wray Castle in our NT members handbook but I hadn’t really paid too much attention to it, I’m not sure why. But if you have children this place is a little gem, especially if the weather is wet.
Built in the 1800’s as a retirement house for a wealthy couple it’s not a real castle but is still impressive on the approach. The views from the terrace are breath-taking looking over Lake Windermere to the hills.
We explored inside first, mainly because we needed to eat as we were starving after Mr TH’s croissant faux pas. As the castle was purchased empty they are really relaxed about food and drink and you can wander around with it. However we chose to sit in one of the battlements looking over the lake as we thought there would be more chance of Monkey actually eating some of her ham sandwich.
I would highly recommend one of the talks, for us the 10 minute introductory talk was best as Monkey was itching to go and explore but they offer a free 40 minute tour too.
Once we learnt a bit about the history we were off, led by our little explorer. The rooms are colour coded so you know if it is castle history, family fun or their current interactive installation of the Peter Rabbit adventure.
While we found the soft play castle and dressing up fun, Monkey definitely loved the Peter Rabbit warren. Each of the rooms are set out like part of the CBeebies Peter Rabbit set, starting in the warren, leading to their living area with kitchen, table and bed.
We were then heading to Mr McGregor’s garden (again but this was an indoors plastic variety this time) with vegetable beds to care for and tunnels to run and hide in.
Finally we climbed the stairs to ‘outside’ of the warren where there are Peter and Friends dressing up clothes, squishy beanbags and CBeebies Peter Rabbit TV shows on loop.
We could have spent a lot more time inside exploring and letting Monkey play, but the weather was gorgeous and we wanted to get outside.
Leading up from the car park there is a wooden ramp with ropes to pull yourself up on and I’m not sure who was more delighted with the discovery of the wooden play area in amongst the trees. There are tyre swings, wooden balance beams, a castle with small climbing walls and a slide (which we spent rather a long time on!) and lots of stick dens to build and hide in.
One of the best things is that it is all very sturdy so can take adults weight when we had to go help her, which of course we had to do lots.
Another exciting discovery we made at Wray Castle was the National Trust campsite at Low Wray, just a short walk along the lake shore from the castle. Set on the banks of the lake they offer pitches for tents, camper vans and also have yurts and pods for those preferring not to spend the night under canvas.
We will definitely be back to stay here and hire canoes and bikes… once the nights warm up a little bit.
We finished our day visiting a couple of our favourite Lake District haunts. My sister introduced us to the gigantic scones at Chester’s by the River, there is no need to for lunch before an early afternoon trip here! Another place we can’t miss visiting is Grasmere, mainly to stock up on Sarah Nelsons famous Gingerbread.
We decided to finish our day with a trip somewhere I haven’t been since I was a small child enjoy a fish and chip supper and a promenade walk at Grange-over-Sands.
Don’t miss for families…
- Short ferry ride across Lake Windermere
- ‘Mr McGregor’s’ garden at Hill Top House (and the house when it’s open)
- Wray Castle Introductory talk- perfect length for families with small children
- Wray Castle- Peter Rabbit adventure is ideal for smaller children to explore
- Wray Castle- outdoor adventure playground
- A walk by the lake shore
- Afternoon tea at Chester’s by the River
- Pick up some Sarah Nelsons Gingerbread to take home