Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, CA18 1RQ, 01229 717614: the historic haunted castle, still a lived-in family home after nine centuries, commands lower Eskdale from its vantage point above the Ravenglass estuary, and is set in 77 acres of woodland and gardens against the backdrop of the Western Lake District fells. The Hawk & Owl Centre within the gardens of Muncaster Castle is open daily mid-Feb to Dec 23rd inclusive. Centre and flying display entry is included in the Gardens ticket. Adventure playground, meadowvole maze, enchanted trail. Café and shop. Highly recommended day out. Take the A595 north from Broughton.
The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway (01229 717171) is one of the oldest and longest narrow gauge railways in England, known affectionately as La’al Ratty meaning “ little railway “ in Cumbrian dialect. Take the A595 north from Broughton. It runs from Ravenglass to Dalegarth for Boot, Eskdale. Great waterfall walk from Boot! If you book, you can take bikes on, go one way and cycle back along the track, and up and over the end of the fell (if you want to avoid the last bit on the road).
Ulverston (10 miles, 20 mins drive): The local festival town with numerous events throughout the year. Boutique clothes shops, gift shops, Art Deco cinema (Roxy), Laurel and Hardy Museum, Sir John Barrow Monument on Hoad Hill (open Sun 2-5 when flag is flying). Small markets Thurs and Sat, indoor market daily except Wed and Sun. The Coronation Hall hosts numerous classical concerts, bands and coffee mornings including the acclaimed Ulverston International Music Festival in June. https://www.chooseulverston.co.uk/
Coniston (9 miles, 15-20 mins drive): outdoor shops, Coniston Launch and Steam Gondola, boat and canoe hire, lovely walk along the lake through the grounds of Coniston Hall campsite. https://www.visitcumbria.com/amb/coniston/
South Lakes Safari Zoo, Dalton – follow the brown elephant signs off A590. 01229 466086. Over 1,000 of the rarest, most endangered animals, including big cats (watch the feeding!), giraffes, rhinos, free-roaming lemurs.
Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, A590, Haverthwaite near Newby Bridge. Catch a stream train along the short stretch of railway to Lakeside. 015395 31594.
Lakes Aquarium, Lakeside, LA12 8AS (south end of Windermere), turn off A590 at Newby Bridge, follow the brown fish signs. Parking charges apply. You can catch the ferry to Fell Foot, or take a boat cruise up to Ambleside, Bowness and Wray Castle from here.
Lakeland Motor Museum, off A590 between Newby Bridge and Haverthwaite, 015395 30400. 140 classic cars and motorbikes, history of the Dolly Blue mill. Riverside café serving locally sourced home-made food, freshly baked scones and cakes, Lake District cheeses, Cumbrian meats, sticky toffee pudding.
Fell Foot Country Park, off A590 at Newby Bridge onto A592 signed Windermere – 1 mile. Includes canoe access, children's adventure play park, picnic areas, boat hire, café (National Trust, parking charges apply). You can catch the ferry across to Lakes Aquarium (May-Oct).
Hill Top, Near Sawrey, LA22 0LF: home of Beatrix Potter (National Trust)
Wray Castle, Low Wray, Ambleside, LA22 0JA (National Trust). This neo-gothic house is not your typical National Trust property. There are free tours to find out about its varied history, and rooms are filled with all sorts for children to do: dressing up, castle-building spaces, perfect for a wet day in the Lakes! Outdoors there is a rope swing, den-building and trails, and a lovely walk down to and along the lake. Car park often full by 11am, but you can combine it with a boat trip as it docks here.
World of Beatrix Potter, Bowness-on-Windermere, LA23 3BX (0844 504 1233). Interactive exhibits tell the story of Potter's writing and her importance to Lakeland conservation. Kids love it!
Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum, Grasmere, LA22 9SH (015394 35544). Dove Cottage was Wordsworth's first family home.
Grasmere including Allan Bank (National Trust). Don't forget to pop into Grasmere itself for some of Sarah Nelson's famous Grasmere gingerbread! The gingerbread shop is next to the church.
Barrow-in-Furness (15 miles, 30 mins drive): high street shops, Furness Abbey (Cistercian), Walney nature reserves and long beach overlooking the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man, Dock Museum (see the Furness hoard!), multiplex cinema, large park including children's play park and boating lake. Play centres include PlayMax for 0-8s (Park Leisure Centre, Barrow-in-Furness, 01229 871146), Fuzzy Ed's for 6 months to 10 years (Owl and the Pussycat pub, Hindpool Road, Barrow-in-Furness, 01229 824334), soft play for ages 2-8, LazerZone for over 8s (Custom House, 1, Abbey Road, Barrow-in-Furness, 01229 823823).
Piel Island, Barrow-in-Furness. Accessed by small passenger ferry daily in the summer season from 11am-6pm from Roa Island, this small but fascinating island has a pub, a king and a castle! Take the causeway from Rampside, via the coast road (A5087) outside Barrow-in-Furness. Ferry 07798 794550, booking not necessary but check it is running.
Coastal drive via Barrow to Ulverston taking in Conishead Priory, a magnificent Grade II* listed example of early Victorian Gothic architecture on the site of a twelfth century Augustinian Priory. The house is dominated by two octagonal towers, 100 feet high. The World Peace Temple has a stunning gold roof. There are walks to the estuary through woodland which includes an historic pet cemetery.