We are often asked about less-active and less-outdoorsy activities we can recommend nearby, particularly in inclement weather. You may find that even the most intrepid adventurers of your party might enjoy a few of the cultural and less-active things on offer.
Here are a few to whet your appetite:
Keswick Museum & Art Gallery: award-winning museum, situated in the beautiful Fitz Park and near the Keswick to Threlkeld railway walking trail. Packed with exhibitions, family activities and special events throughout the year, find out about life in Keswick and its surrounds – its characters, industries, arts and the many stories that have put the town firmly on the Lake District map.
The Puzzling Place is a really fun excursion into the wonderful world of optical illusion, which will leave you quite literally, not believing your eyes! Climb inside the anti-gravity or sideways room to explore the magical world of illusions. If you don’t know them, Jasper (on the right) is in fact rather smaller than Oscar and Kofi (on the left)! We wonder if this is how much of Lord of the Rings was filmed.
Derwent Pencil Museum You don’t need to be an artist to find this museum fascinating, although you might come away with some wonderful art materials as it is quite inspiring. Did you know that Keswick is the home of the first pencil? Enter through a replica graphite mine and discover the journey of pencil manufacture, along the way being amazed by secret WW2 spy pencils, one of the largest colour pencils in the world, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee pencil and much more!
Honister Slate Mine is still a working mine, located on (and inside!) the spectacular Honister Pass between the Borrowdale and Buttermere valleys. Most of the slate you see at Fornside came from there. As well as many exhilarating adventurous activities, you can go on a very interesting tour of the mines, which offers a unique blend of history (and a bit of adventure if you are in any way claustrophobic).
Kong Adventure Centre in Keswick has a huge range of outdoor and indoor adventurous activities on offer. Its included in this list because it offers two marvellous indoor activities. Firstly a ‘hard play’ where children can climb and boulder with parents either joining them or watching from the gallery (with a coffee and rather nice cake). Most fun of all, we think, is their escape room, currently a mountaineering theme, but with none of the physical effort or risk attached. Be warned, it will definitely exercise your brains!
Blackwell Arts and Crafts House, in its tranquil setting with tremendous views over Windermere and the Coniston fells, showcases traditional craft skills. Designed by Mackay Hugh Baillie Scott, this Grade I listed building is one of the UK’s finest examples of Arts & Crafts architecture. Almost all of Blackwell’s original features survive, along with immaculate furniture and beautiful decorative flourishes.
Mirehouse Just outside Keswick, Mirehouse is a beautiful family run historic house with gardens, lakeshore and woodland playgrounds.
Wordsworth House and Garden The birthplace of romantic poet William Wordsworth, this lovely Georgian townhouse, in Cockermouth, is presented as it would have been when he lived here with his parents, siblings and the family servants in the 1770s. There is a daily children’s trail, and down in the cellar, the household’s ghosts are waiting to tell their stories. The exhibition rooms house a changing programme of displays.
Dove Cottage, or “The loveliest spot that man hath ever found” in Grasmere, was where Wordsworth lived as an adult, where he wrote many of his greatest poems and where his sister Dorothy kept her Grasmere journal.
Book a tour at the award-winning Lakes Distillery. They’ll take you behind the scenes at their state-of-the-art distillery, at the northern end of Bassenthwaite. Accompanied by an expert tour guide, you will explore the Still Room, learn about the impact of oak and cask seasoning on flavour creation, and discover how they make The Lakes whisky, gin, and vodka. It’s an absorbing experience and children are welcome if supervised (although they won’t get to taste the spirits sad face). They have a super restaurant, so as well as the tour you could stop for lunch and a visit with the alpacas at Alpacaly Ever After, who share the lovely grounds.
Keswick Brewery is a small craft brewery with quality and environmental issues at its heart. Book a tour with them and finish by enjoying a beer where it is brewed, in Brewery Lane.
Treat yourself to a spa day … several spas nearby offer relaxation pools, treatments and delicious lunches (or even a guided lake swim). Lodore Falls in Borrowdale, Armathwaite at the northern side of Bassenthwaite, Swim Club at Another Place overlooking Ullwater and The Spa at Underscar just north of Keswick are all a short drive from Fornside Farm and very highly rated.
If you fancy exploring, but would rather let someone else do the driving, there are a few options:
Mountain Goat minibuses do a range of tours around Cumbria, and have various pick up points.
The 555 bus offers an hourly service and is a fun and affordable option, running between Keswick and Kendal along the A591, passing Thirlmere, Grasmere, Rydal Water, Ambleside, Troutbeck and Kendal. The view from the top deck is marvellous. Our nearest stop is just a kilometre south of Fornside, and is called “Stannah – Dam end road”
The Keswick Launch is a great way of exploring Derwentwater and enjoying the breathtaking views of the surrounding fells. You can hop on and off at any of seven jetties or just stay on for the full loop. If you prefer to be your own captain, you could also hire one of their boats.
Ullswater Steamers connect four points along Ullswater by boat. Yet another stunning Lake District day out, or make it an evening supper tour – check their website for whether fish’n’chips or ‘gin cruises’ are on the menu during your visit.
History enthusiasts might enjoy a guided tour with Secret Solway, exploring the part of Cumbria that stretches west of Carlisle. This area has been shaped over the centuries by invasions, wars and trade, and is stunningly beautiful place with a rich and layered history. Romans, Vikings, King Edward 1, Cistercian monks, the Victorians and world wars have all left their mark on this remote part of north west England. When possible, tours include short talks from local people or visits to local artists or artisan food and drink producers.
Keswick’s highly acclaimed Theatre by the Lake has shows most days throughout the year. It occupies a wonderful position down on the lakeside at Derwentwater. As we are Ambassadors, Fornside Farm Cottage guests can get a small discount; we’ll send you a code after you make a booking.
Catch a film at the extravagantly named and delightfully traditional Alhambra Cinema in St Johns Street in Keswick. It is open 365 days a year and has two screens. Some showings are ‘relaxed’, with lower film sound and where toddlers are ‘allowed’ to wander and make noise. We display the latest Alhambra listing in the Laundry room.
The Rheged Centre, on the way to Penrith, is always worth a visit. Rheged was built by the Westmorland Family, the local family business behind the famous Tebay Services on the M6. Their cinema screens are modern and as well as an extensive film selection, they often show live broadcasts of ballets and operas. They frequently have family-friendly exhibitions and a varied programme of talks and workshops. And sometimes a mix of the two: a film followed by a panel discussion on recent events or topical issues, for example we enjoyed a showing of ‘The Spine Film’ followed by a discussion with a panel including Spine athletes and race directors. Rheged’s upstairs gallery always has a Cumbrian theme and the food hall, shops and cafes offer fabulous local produce. “It is a gallery, café, cinema, shopping venue, workplace and creative space; a place where you can share a meal, watch a film, hold a meeting, see an exhibition, buy a gift or catch up over coffee. A flexible space for getting together or enjoying time alone with a book or notepad; a place where stories are told, ideas are sparked and the Cumbrian landscape is a constant source of inspiration.”
Finally, you could simply spend the day at Fornside … cosy up with the log fire roaring, watch a film, play a game or complete a jigsaw puzzle. Feel free to borrow jigsaws, games and books from our laundry room. We also have a high quality Bluetooth speaker in every cottage for you to enjoy your own music and podcasts.