Thursday, 5 April 2012

Derwentwater with children

Planning a visit to the Lake District (in England) with small children?  If you aren't, then I strongly recommend it, it's great!  I went on the 31st March, for two nights.  In our party were: me, my two sisters (one is Seaside Belle), six children under the age of 6 between us, and our mum.
Where to stay:
You can't go far wrong with Derwentwater Youth Hostel.  Not only is it a beautiful building, situated in an idyllic spot with Derwentwater at the bottom of the garden and the outdoor shopping mecca that is Keswick just a stone's throw away, but it also has great grounds to explore, with a huge man-made waterfall and woodlands.  Add to that a welcoming and friendly staff, the chance to either eat in or self-cater, comfortable rooms and plenty of space and you've got it made.

Ashness Bridge
Head up beside the water fall that flows behind the Youth Hostel, through woodlands where red squirrel roam, and up to a small road.  Along the road a little way you'll find Ashness Bridge.  My grandparents honeymooned there back in the early '50s, so it was quite touching to visit the spot sixty-one years later on their wedding anniversary - we phoned Grandad to let him know we were thinking about him.  The children played on the rocks and in the water to their heart's content.  A fabulous spot for a picnic on a warm day.  As it was, once the children started to fall in and get cold it was time to head back to the hostel!

We went to Trotters World of Animals.  It was a little disappointing.  The animals were great (anybody who's in to meerkats will be in their element!), and there were lots of species.  However, some of the animal enclosures and the reptile room were clearly not meant for small children to be able to see in.  There was a lot of lifting required to show the children the animals.  Also, the adventure playground was a bit of a disappointment.  If you like locally sourced healthful grub then the cafe might not be for you, but if you really fancy a chip butty, then you'll be more than satisfied.

The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction
After lunch at Trotters we headed to Bowness-on-Windermere to The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction.  I was unsure what to expect, but love the stories of Beatrix Potter.  This place is truly magical.  We were all (adults and children) entranced by the models, and the garden was perfect - a model of how I would love my garden to look.
Other places that come with high recommendations, though we didn't get to them include Mirehouse and Whinlatter.  Both are woodland settings with playgrounds and forest walks.
So... can you tell?  A great weekend had by all.  Sleep, with ten of us in one room, wasn't high on the priority list for the children, actually wasn't bad.  The children had a brilliant time playing together.  Next year we shall aim for the Cotswolds somewhere I think.  And in the meantime I'd better get back to the children who are suffering with stomach bugs, presumably collected from the cousins!

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