Warm and dry: swapping the great outdoors for great fun indoors
For a part of the world known for its rainfall, the Lakes has surprisingly few indoor activities for children. There are good reasons for this: who needs soft play centres when you've got the best outdoor playground in the world?
There's also the old adage: there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear, so get them togged up and head outside.
If the rain's persistent, however, there will be times when you just have to seek an indoor activity. From caving to climbing, motors to Mr Tod, there is plenty of fun to be had with a roof over your head. Here's the LakesLux pick of our favourites:
Brave the Cave at Brockhole on Windermere
While Brockhole has loads of adventurous outdoor activities, Brave the Cave now means there's more indoors too. Kitted out in overalls and a helmet with head torch, cavers first get to try a couple of sample 'tunnels' before heading into the 40m network of tight corners, squeezes, short pull-ups and slippery slide-downs. The kids, of course, go zooming off, their way illuminated by their head torches. For adults, it is tight in places and, needless to say, there's a size limit (max. waist 42") but air conditioning keeps it cool. It can be quite painful for adult knees and elbows too, which may serve as a useful distraction from any feelings of claustrophobia. There are 3 more opportunities to go back in - to search for wall markings, creepy crawlies and an in-the-dark adventure. Suitable for anyone over 5, it's £8.50 per person for 45 minutes.
Tip: wear light shoes and leave all sweaters at the door; caving on your back and using your feet to push you through makes it easier for adults.
Next to Brave the Cave is The Cubby Hole, a soft play for under-4s which makes Brockhole ideal for families with children of different ages. Book online at www.brockhole.co.uk
The Cubby Hole at Brockhole provides a safe place to play for very young visitors
Cliffhanger Rooms, Lakeland Village, Newby Bridge
Who knew the Lakes had its own escape room challenge? An anonymous-looking barn between the Motor Museum and Whitewater Hotel is home to 3 different escape adventures - a pirate hunt for gold coins, a bank vault heist and beat the pharaoh's curse.
Definitely one for older kids (younger than 9 and they'll get bored or cross or both), your group of up to 6 people get one hour to solve the puzzle and get out with your pride intact.
We chose the haunted pirate ship where the challenge involved solving the clues to open the locks leading to further clues. If you've never done an escape room before it can be baffling at first, but there's no shame in asking for clues - there's no way we could have done it without help. It's good - if pricey - fun and something the whole family can join in.
Tip: the price per head is the lowest (£16 each) if there are 6 in your group. Book online at www.cliffhangerrooms.co.uk
Teams are encouraged to graffiti their names on the wall at The Cliffhanger Rooms
Lakeland Climbing Centre CrazyClimb + SkyJump, Kendal
When your child is desperate to step off the edge of an 18m shaft and free-fall to the bottom, as a parent all you can do is stand back and smile even if inside you're questioning the sanity of it all. The fearless children love it, of course, partly since it comes after they've conquered as many as 12 CrazyClimb climbing walls. It's all supervised and super safe and great for children's confidence. Suitable for over 5s, CrazyClimb lasts 75 minutes for £16; SkyJump is an extra 15 minutes and £3.
Tip: to save time, complete the registration document online before your visit. For more info, visit www.kendalwall.co.uk, tel: 01539 721766
Lakeland Motor Museum, Newby Bridge
For drivers of a certain age, the museum is a trip down memory lane, complete with authentic engine smells. It's nostalgic and quirky and certainly gives a lot of banger for your buck with the countless exhibits squeezed in. Children love it too, with a mixture of awe and disbelief over what we used to drive - the video of the car that turns into a boat is a winner. It's not just a museum to cars but a social history too with scenes depicting the Women's Land Army, shop windows and even a collection of old fairground games. The highlight for many is the Campbell Bluebird Exhibition with replicas of a Bluebird car, boat and hydroplane, and a poignant video of Campbell family triumph and tragedy.
Just up river from Cliffhanger Rooms, you could combine them to make a wet day of it with refreshments at Cafe Ambio.
Admission is £8.50 for adults, £5 for children (5-15), under 5s free, family ticket (2+3) £24. www.lakelandmotormuseum.co.uk
Lakes Aquarium, Lakeside
Uniquely Lake District, the Aquarium seeks to educate and entertain in equal measure, highlighting the watery wildlife world of the lakes and nearby coast. It's not the biggest, but there's plenty to see including local and overseas fish, otters, pygmy marmosets and mice, tortoises, frogs and the weird axolotl. Ironically my favourite creatures aren't water-borne at all - the leafcutter ants' display is mesmerising.
Tip: consider extending your day out with a combined ticket that allows you to arrive by ferry from Ambleside or Bowness or train (sometimes steam) from Haverthwaite; save money by booking online in advance. www.lakesaquarium.co.uk
The World of Beatrix Potter, Bowness
Always popular and a sensory experience that stays with the children as a happy memory when they're older, the walk-through attraction is like stepping into the tunnels, holes, setts and dens of the rabbits, badgers, foxes and other creatures brought to life by Miss Potter. Peering through little windows into their world, enhanced with country fragrances, is really magical. The little outdoor Peter Rabbit Garden is a genius of design, perched on terracing above the busy road through Bowness, and the short videos about Beatrix Potter herself are charming. A good gift shop and tea room help to extend your time indoors. www.hop-skip-jump.com
Filling a rainy afternoon with a trip to the cinema is always a pleasure and a multi-generational option. The Lake District is blessed with several individual independent cinemas:
Zeffirellis in Ambleside - read more in my feature on combining a show with supper. www.zeffirellis.com
Alhambra, Keswick - it marked its centenary in 2014 and is one of the few picture houses in the UK to be in continual operation for over 100 years. www.keswickalhambra.co.uk
Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal - plenty of choice of screenings and another good one for combining with a meal. www.breweryarts.co.uk
Royalty Cinema, Bowness - an Art Deco building with an original Wurlitzer organ. www.windermere.nm-cinemas.co.uk
Barney's Newsbox, Grasmere
Staying in is always an option of course but if you're in a cottage, a guesthouse or a hotel without a pool, you'll still need something to do. A must, therefore, is a visit to Barney's, a treasure trove of boxed games and their speciality, jigsaws. From beginners to jigsaw connoisseurs, there is something for everyone from puzzles of fewer than 250 pieces to those with thousands. Every theme imaginable is covered and you can easily fill an hour just looking through them all. Tel: 015394 35627
Keswick Museum & Art Gallery + Leisure Pool
Virtually a one-room museum, yet with seemingly the entire geological, industrial, natural, social, artistic and literary of the Lakes squeezed in, it's a manageable size for children. A short trail will get them exploring the collections from insects to pencils, but it's usually the musical stones that are the favourite attraction. www.keswickmuseum.org.uk
Ideally located next to Keswick Leisure Pool, you can combine culture with some exercise. It's the best public pool for families in the area, with a wide shallow end, a wave machine and water slide.
If it does fair up, there's a good outdoor play area in the park next door, and it's a short walk into the town centre. www.better.org.uk
The Musical Stones at Keswick Museum & Art Gallery are popular with young musicians