This is Gracie’s (age nearly 12) list of personal recommendations, though we have tucked a few other things on at the end. See also the sport and leisure section for swimming pools, horse riding and other activities. Web details, where available, can be found on the links page.
A bit bonkers, which makes it all the more fun. Bowes Museum holds a truly eclectic collection of pieces, ranging from room panels, furniture, china and toys, to ancient artefacts and a stunning fashion collection. Most endearingly, there are some objects that are simply labelled as ‘unknown’, with a request for anyone who might be clearer as to their function and purpose to inform the museum. The centrepiece is the 230-year-old mechanised silver swan. Keep an eye out for the special exhibitions – they are as diverse as the main collections, but are always inspiring. The on-site restaurant is pretty good, too.
Walking up the road to see the ‘stumpy’ ponies
Just step outside the front door, cross the railway line and follow the road. Usually there are horses, sheep and ponies in the fields, the latter being the friendliest. Kids of all ages enjoy this pastime. If you want to make slightly more of a walk out of it, turn left at the first road/track, then left again at the bottom, making a circular route back to Waitby School.
Read some of Beatrix Potter’s books or watch Miss Potter on DVD the evening before, then visit her house and garden in Sawrey, near Hawkshead. Children love the garden, and the whole experience is definitely worthwhile, though it can get busy in the summer and school holidays. Afterwards, drive into Grasmere and have lunch or tea and cakes. A particular favourite is Baldry’s Tea Rooms, where the hot chocolate with all the works will leave your kids full for days… or at least until teatime.
A lovely way to while away half an hour or so. The remains of the castle are atmospheric and haunting, even in the brightest sunlight. Although you can visit the castle, remember that this is private property, so do remember to close the gate behind you and take care when exploring. If you are a keen photographer, there is ample opportunity for you to take some impressive pictures.
After extended debate, we have agreed to include this, but it is difficult to pin down any one particular cake providing venue, as there are so many. Discover them for yourselves!
Indoor Soft Play, Kirkby Stephen
Platform 3 Play comprehensive indoor soft play area for those less than 4 feet 9 inches. There’s also a café. Perfect for a wet day.
Ravenglass and Eskdale steam railway
Not full scale, but still worth a ride, especially for enthusiasts. Get a closed carriage if it is raining.
Wensleydale Creamery, Hawes
Especially good for the Wallace and Gromit fans among you. Cracking cheese Gromit!