Anyone who has been to the Lake District will know how many wonderful hours can be spent in this picturesque area of England. Whether you are looking for something relaxing or wanting to get out exploring, there will be something for you in the Lake District, the problem is….there are so many things to do it can be hard to know exactly what to do first! Not only this, but sometimes you want a day that isn’t going to cost a fortune, and luckily the Lake District has plenty of free days out for you to enjoy during your time there!
Brockhole on Windermere
Brockhole on Windermere consists of 30 acres of fun filled space to explore, sat right on the edge of the lake. You will be able to enjoy strolling around the beautifully maintained terraced gardens and grounds, enjoying the mass of wildlife that have made this site their home, or go exploring through the woodland trail. For kids big and small there is a huge adventure playground, with countless slides and mountain towers. There are plenty of other free activities to take part in at Brockhole, from learning about the history of the Lake District, to a soft play centre. If you are lucky when you visit you may even get to take part in some of the free exhibitions or creative workshops that they hold throughout the year!
NOTE: You do have to pay for parking at the location but there is free parking further away if you don’t mind a walk!
Ravenglass Bath House
The Ravenglass Bath House combines a walk with history, so you will be pleasing all members of the family with this outing! Home to the last remains of a roman fort and naval base, this is one of the tallest standing Roman structures in England at almost four metres high.
Situated in the historic national park that is Ravenglass and located right by the estuary, the walk to the bath house is delightful in itself, with the added benefit of the history behind the visit!
POSSIBLE COSTS: You do have to pay for parking at the location but you may be lucky and find street parking if you visit off-peak times.
Fell Foot National Trust
Fell Foot National Trust site is situated at the south of Lake Windermere. Recently renovated, this free location is one that is bound to become increasingly popular in coming years. Open fields allow for picnics and family days out playing sports and games, but there are also quiet, more secluded areas if you are wanting a dog walk (yes this amazing site is dog friendly!) or a quiet day out!
The main reason why this comes second on our list is the access to the water and the facilities that are on site! We honestly think they would be hard to beat! As Fell Foot is located towards the edge of Lake Windermere, the water is much more shallow and quieter than towards the middle of the lake. The National Trust has created slopes down to the water so that you can paddle in the water, take in inflatable or other small boats, or even swim!
POSSIBLE COSTS: There is a cafe at Fell Foot National Trust for if you forget to bring your own refreshments. Plus, if you are wanting to get out on the lake (but don’t want to get wet) then there is boat and canoe hire available. You do have to pay for parking if you are wanting to park at the actual site itself.
Visiting Aira Force is most definitely something that you need to add to your To Do List whilst in the Lake District. This impressive 65 foot waterfall combines beauty with exercise as you take the walk up to the top of the falls. When flowing quickly, the sound of the water thundering over the drop can be heard for most parts of the walk. But the waterfall itself isn’t all that you will be able to enjoy….the walk itself is peaceful, allowing you to enjoy plenty of wildlife both by the river and in the trees that surround the area.
There are plenty of areas for you to enjoy a picnic, whether you want to sit by the river itself or further off in the woodland areas. Plus, children will love paddling in the river and using their imagination to create dens with the many pieces of wood and branches that you will find dotted around.
POSSIBLE COSTS: There is plenty of parking a short distance away from Aira Force itself, but if you want to park on the car park by the falls then you do have to pay. There is also a coffee shop if you want a warm drink after your walk or a snack.
Grizedale Forest comprises of 4000 hectares jam-packed with trails, views of the lakes, woodland wildlife and over 40 sculptures to be spotted and ticked off your list. Whether a newbie bike rider or more experienced there will be a route for you in Grizedale Forest if you explore the long network of graded mountain-bike trails. If you are looking for a challenge then make sure to attempt the North Face trail!
But don’t be put off by all this action….if you are wanting a more sedate day out then Grizedale Forest has things for you too. There are plenty of quiet picnic areas, or areas to just sit, relax and take in your surroundings.
Through a large part of the year, they also offer many free events for people of all ages, so that you can learn more about the woodland, try orienteering or get more creative!
POSSIBLE COSTS: There are cafes and events that will require you to get your money out if you are wanting to enjoy what they have to offer! Not only this but there is bike hire available at points through the year so you don’t need to worry about getting your bike to and from the Lake District!
Castlerigg Stone Circle
Admittedly not as tall or as famous as Stonehenge, we wouldn’t let that put you off from visiting Castlerigg Stone Circle. Castlerigg is one of Britain’s oldest Neolithic circles dating back to around 3000BC! Not only this, but you can actually enjoy Castlerigg Stone Circle without any barriers or limitations, feel free to step into the middle of the circle, touch the stones, and really bask in the historical and almost magical feel that this location has to offer.
As if that wasn’t enough, the views that surround the Castlerigg Stone Circle are those of the many fells and mountains that surround the Lake District – you would be hard pressed to get a much better picture perfect location!
If you want to take part in a really special experience then it is worth visiting Castlerigg Stone Circle at dawn on the summer solace to take part in a free celebration event!
Derwent Water offers something for all the family. Wanting to do some open water swimming? Take a canoe out on the lake? Have a picnic and a paddle by the side of the water? Fancy a long walk? Whatever you are wanting, Derwent Water in Keswick is the place to go. Views, wildlife, peace and quiet but also perfect for those adventurous types, the 12 miles around the lake mean that you will always be able to find somewhere around the lake that suits you and what you are looking for.
POSSIBLE COSTS: There are so many places dotted around this lake that you can stop off and visit if this suits what you are looking for. Cafes, pubs, activity centre’s and much more!
Lowther Castle Gardens
Lowther Castle Gardens sells itself without us needing to, as it was voted Large Visitor Attraction of the Year in 2018 in the Cumbria Tourism Awards! Gothic ruins, gardens for miles, adventure playgrounds,`§ and dog friendly – you couldn’t ask for much more!
POSSIBLE COSTS: If you want to actually go and explore the castle and gardens you are going to have to pay, but the grounds are free to walk around and explore for as long as you like! You also have the option of cycle-hire if you have done enough walking already!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it free to visit Cartmel Priory?
Yes! You can visit Cartmel Priory and take in the history, architecture, and sanctuary of this beautiful church without having to pay a penny – although they do accept donations that will go towards the upkeep of the building if you would like to do so.
Are National Trust sites free in the Lake District?
Many of the National Trust sites in the Lake District are free to visit, however, there are some that you have to pay for. Most sites you will have to pay for the car park though so this is something to bear in mind!