A couple of weeks ago, we had an unexpected reason to be away from our house for a week.
We discovered that we had dry rot under the floorboards and the whole floor in the hallway had to be replaced.
Since the dry rot needed treating with chemicals, we didn't want to be around with the kids.
We opted to get away for a week somewhere in the Lake District.
Other than staying at Center Parcs, I'd only been to the area once before so I started my search in the same place.
That happened to be around Lake Windermere.
Bowness On Windermere
For our week in the Lake District, we chose to stay in Bowness On Windermere.
I'd been once before in the summer and I remember how nice the place was.
Although it was mobbed at the time so I hoped that going in October might be more bearable. And it was.
We stayed just outside the village centre in a cottage which conveniently also had parking.
Bowness certainly didn't disappoint. It's a convenient place to stay for many local attractions as well as for exploring further afield.
I liked the fact that Lake Windermere was only a five minute stroll away from our cottage.
There were also lots of different shops and restaurants within easy reach. Sorted!
You can't really miss the fact that the Lake District is Beatrix Potter country.
Everywhere you go there are references to her and her stories and it certainly draws in the tourists.
We took the time to visit a couple of Beatrix Potter related attractions too.
When in Rome and all that...
The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction
I have been to the The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction before so I guess I should know what to expect.
And really is there's not very much to see.
For the entrance fee there are a couple of exhibits, a tiny garden and it all ends with a shop full of stuffed toys.
It felt like my kids went around the place in a time Usain Bolt would have been proud of.
Then my daughter pulled a tantrum over some over-priced stuffed toy.
It was an underwhelming experience and one I wouldn't care to revisit.
Hill Top Farm
So, another day, another Beatrix Potter extravaganza and this time it was her former home, Hill Top Farm, near Hawkshead.
It was very disappointing. Just like the Beatrix Potter Experience, there wasn't much to see.
The car park was tiny and it was chucking it down with rain. My kids got bored almost immediately and within 15 minutes we'd left the place.
Luckily there was a hotel next door and we consoled ourselves with some coffee and ice cream for the kids.
Overall, my experience of Beatrix Potter attractions was one of disappointment. Overpriced and not much to see.
Barrow In Furness
To escape the rain clouds which had descended on the Lake District we decided to go to the cinema.
The one in Bowness wasn't showing any films the kids wanted to see so we had to go further afield.
It was a toss up between Barrow In Furness or Morecambe. Neither place I had visited before.
Barrow intrigued me more than Morecambe so we opted to head over to Barrow In Furness.
It's a non-descript sort of a town. I couldn't really tell much about the place because it seemed to be an endless one-way traffic system.
Still, we found the cinema no problem and it meant we were out of the rain for a couple of hours. I'm not sure I'd go back to Barrow though in all honesty.
Boat To Lakeside
With a positive change in the weather later in the week, the sun came out and we decided to take a boat trip from Bowness to Lakeside.
It takes about 40 minutes each way and it was a pleasant and relaxing way to see Lake Windermere and the surrounding countryside.
My kids enjoyed the experience and never once said they were bored so it must have been good!
It's much nicer than having to drive everywhere and you don't really notice the leisurely pace of the boat because the scenery is so good.
The Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway
When you get to Lakeside, one of the things to do there is to go on the steam train on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite railway.
Luckily they time the train's departure to a few minutes after the boat arrives.
We clambered on and we were soon off on our way. I think the theme for the day was a much slower pace of life.
It only takes 15 minutes to get from Lakeside to Haverthwaite and I felt a little short-changed by how short the journey is.
If you're a train enthuisast there are things to look at when you get to Haverthwaite but it was a little disappointing for those of us who aren't, especially the kids.
It killed half an hour but I'm not sure I'd go on the steam train again if we ever go back to Lakeside.
The Lakes Acquarium was much more up my street.
From the outside it does look like a big shed with not much in it but looks can be deceiving.
There's actually quite a lot of things to see in the acquarium, so long as you take your time.
My kids managed to zoom around the place in 20 minutes.
There's an underwater tunnel where you can view the fish above you and we spent quite a lot of time watching them.
It's lucky that you can go around more than once because I know for sure they missed things on the first look around.
It's worth getting a ticket that gets you the boat ride, access to the acquarium and also a ride on the steam train. We purchased ours from the boat ticket office in Bowness.
Later on in the week, we spent a day at the South Lakes Safari Zoo not far from Barrow In Furness.
This was one of the best things we did all of the holiday.
There's loads of different animals to see including rhinos, giraffes, lions and tigers.
You also get to walk through many of the areas actually in with the animals.
My kids loved the photo-bombing lemurs and the kangaroos having a siesta in the autumn sunshine.
Walking through the vulture enclosure was a little unnerving but it was interesting to see how massive the birds really are.
One thing against the zoo is that you can't take your own picnic in with you.
There's reminders everywhere about that as well as signs telling you what you can't do. It was a little off-putting.
You can't even pick up a peacock feather and leave the zoo without being charged a couple of quid to take it home!
Still, there's more to like and enjoy there than not like and it's well worth a visit.
On our final day in the Lake District, we visited Wray Castle.
It was like a rabbit warren inside full of things for the kids to see and do.
It's purely aimed at children and I now I've been once it's clearly not worth going unless you have kids.
There's a dressing up room, a Beatrix Potter experience for kids, a table tennis table and a snooker table amongst other things.
Outside there was an adventure playground, which although not extensive, kept us busy for half an hour or so.
It's a pretty place for a walk around outside and there's a café for drinks and snacks when you need a little sustenance.
The road to the castle's not very wide and there's not many passing places so if you've got a massive over-sized 4 by 4, you might struggle a little.
Still, it's worth it when you get there. Cheaper than going to somewhere like Hill Top Farm and so much more to do!
What Are Your Thoughts On The Lake District?
Is there any particular places you like to visit? What are the best places to stay?
Have you been to any of the places I've mentioned and what do you think about them?
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