Activities for Families

There is so much to do within the Rowley Estates when the weather is good – hiking, exploring, playing in the streams, clay pigeon shooting, going for a picnic or just running around in the gardens.  We hope the following will be of interest for a change of pace or when the weather is not so conducive for outdoor play…

Lowther Castle, Lowther, Penrith CA10 2HH

  • The lost castle is a huge adventure playground. Designed so that families can enjoy playing together in the great outdoors.  Built from over 18,000 metres of sustainably grown timber, the structure is an echo of Lowther Castle itself, with the addition of turrets, zipwires, walkways and slides.  Close by, you will find the into the woods café where you can buy hot and cold snacks and drinks. All in all, somewhere to enjoy a wonderful day out.

Penrith Leisure Centre & Eden Climbing Wall, Southend Road CA11 8JH

  • Eden Climbing wall, gym, 25 meter indoor pool, 13 meter indoor learner pool, indoor bowls. Pay by activity available (no fixed membership necessary & very reasonable prices for activities).
  • Please call to check times and activities;  Tel; 01768 863 45

The Ullswater Steamers, Pooley Bridge, Howtown Pier & Glenridding

  • 150 years of operating lake cruises on Ullswater confirms this great day out gets a lot of repeat and referral business!  We love using this as a means of public transport from Hause Hall within the Rowley Estates or just for part of a fantastic day out exploring around Ullswater.  The steamers follow a great circular route which can form part of a day out walking or just touring around this beautiful lake.  Kids activities, children friendly maps and a kids club are available.
  • Ullswater is known also as the “Dark Lake” with links to the Arthurian legend.  A burial mound near the Ullswater Steamer slipway was meant to be associated with Sir Tristan,  one of the Knights of the Round Table but has subsequently been found to be a glacial mound.  It is also rumoured that either Ullswater or Haweswater was the test site for the targetting system of the Bouncing Bomb created by Barnes Wallis in 1942.
  • Tel 017684 82229 for details and timetable or see

Penrith Alhambra Cinema  Middlegate CA11 7PT

  • This small local cinema has Dolby Digital projection and digital sound.  In addition to offering a range of mainstream film options, the cinema also does live satellite screenings from the New York Met Opera and the London National Theatre.
  • Tel 01768 862 400 or see for film timings etc.

Hadrians Wall, Roman Vindolanda & The Roman Army Museum – located between the A69 & the B6318 near Haltwhistle (NE47 7JN for the Vindolanda excavations & CA8 7JB for the Roman Army Museum).

  • These two historic sites are located along Hadrian’s Wall.  We spent a great day doing a guided tour of the ongoing excavations at Roman Vindolanda and seeing the small museum there, as well as visiting the larger Roman Army Museum which has a great 3D movie called Edge of Empire about Roman history & Emperor Hadrian.  All this as well as walking along a section of the wall.  This is a car journey from the Rowley Estates properties but well worth the trip for the history and amazing archaeology. There is also a lot of room for young ones to run around and enact life as a roman soldier etc.
  • Tel 01434 344 277 or see

Aira Force National Trust Waterfall walks and Tea Room, Watermillock, Penrith, Cumbria, CA11 0JS

  • The National Trust Aira Force Waterfall is delightful rain or shine and all times of the year.  If the sun catches the mist coming off of the 65 foot falls, the priasmatic effect causes the famous Aira Rainbows.  You can even take a pushchair up the first section or extend out up and over Gowbarrow Fell for a more challenging hike and fabulous views over Ullswater.
  • Local legend has it that a knight called Sir Eglamore lived as hermit by the side of the falls after losing his beloved Emma who slipped from the rocks at Aira Force whilst awaiting his return from war.
  • We have set out a map showing three routes starting at the National Trust carpark at the base of the falls & finishing back there within the walks section of our website (  We recommend going straight to the welcoming tea shop just near the carpark after your hike.
  • A new pier at Aira Point has just opened, allowing visitors to sail from Glenridding to Aira Force. This is the ultimate day out, with a walk up to the waterfall and lunch at the café, before walking back to Glenridding on the new off-road footpath, or heading back on the boat.
  • Aira Force is located near Watermillock on the road running between Pooley Bridge and Glenridding.  Along the way in the springtime, the fields between this road and the nearby lakefront are covered with Wordsworths daffodils.  This is a great drive as well as a great walk.
  • Tel 017684 82067 or see

Whinlatter Forest near Keswick – Go Ape high ropes course, Cyclewise and adventure playground, Braithwaite, CA12 5TW

  • The Go Ape high ropes  course running through the high larch pine trees at Whinlatter, England’s only remaining mountain forest is great fun and a majestic place to visit.  The team at Go Ape are very friendly & safe with detailed instructions.  We found this exhilirating and were so surprised at the end by how comfortable we were doing zip lines and climbing across obstacles at up to 14 meters above ground. Go Ape’s rope course is offered to kids over 10 with an adult to accompany them.  They also do a lot of adult groups. It takes 2 – 3 hours to go around the course which is fun to do even on rainy & cool days because you are down in the pine trees.  They also sell inexpensive grippy gloves which are handy when it is cool & a bit damp.   There is also a lovely cafe serving hot drinks, meals etc. next door.    It is definitely worth reserving a slot by telephone on (0845 643 9215) or via their website – under Whinlatter
  • Next door to Go Ape is one of our other favourite days out – mountain bike rental from Cyclewise.  The friendly team at Cyclewise rent out mountain bikes & other safety gear, set them up for you to size, help you test them out near the shop and suggest some great cycle trails through the woods.  They also run mountain biking courses.  The Quercus trail is a 7.5 km “blue” graded run and the 19 km Altura trail which is divided into two loops is “red” graded.  Visitors can also download a bike and walking trail maps directly from the Forestry Commission website which saves buying them on site ( under the downloads button at the top of the home page).  It is worth making a reservation for the mountain bikes from Cyclewise on 01768 778 711 or getting in touch in advance via their website (
  • The Forest at Whinlatter is an amazing woodland based playground which opened in 2011.  It is 600 meters long and connects via the trees to nine different play areas including stream based play and a great low level climbing wall.  There are also maps available at the Visitors Centre for the Squirrel Scurry Trail & Tracks Trail at Whinlatter which take about an hour to complete.

Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery & Carlisle Castle (TH is on Castle Street CA3 8TP and nearby is CC on Castle Way, Carlisle CA3 8UR.  They are an easy walk apart on the more scenic part of Carlisle)

  • Carlisle Castle is managed by English Heritage and still in use as a working barrack.,  There is lots of history here on the turbulent part of England.  For 500 years until the English and Scottish crowns were united in 1603, Carlisle Castle was the principal Northern fortress for the English.  It was held to siege ten times in its history & is the most besieged place in the British Isles.  Since it is still a current military installation, there are parts which cannot be visited & the castle is only open for tours between end March and end September.  They have a Medieval Castle Family Fun Trail running from 20 July – 1 Sept and offer guided tours throughout the day.  Tel 01228 591 922 and
  • Tullie House is located in a Grade I listed Jacobean mansion housing a collection of historical artifacts, an art collection and local nature exhibits (fire a Roman weapon, climb a life sized section of the Roman Wall, visit a badger sett).  We have enjoyed an afternoon roaming around this eclectic mix of exhibitions combining sections over the generations of the best of the North West.  It is well curated, kid friendly and a partner with the British Museum.  Check out the Trip Advisor reviews for more feedback on the museum. It has an excellent Garden Restaurant.
  • Tel 01228 618 718 or see

The Puzzling Place in Keswick  9 Museum Square, Keswick, CA12 5DZ

  • Keswick is a charming Lake District Village and we have spent many pleasant afternoons there wandering around the shops and enjoying the traditional tea rooms.  Market days are on Thursdays & Saturdays and there are always some interesting local crafts and items for sale in the stalls in the central square.  The Farmers Market is on Mondays.  Moot Hall, in the central square, is a very helpful visitor centre for the local area.
  • The Puzzling Place is an intriguing small attraction located near the town centre which has a collection of amazing illusions including the Anti Gravity Room, the Ames Room, the Hologram Gallery and the Eyelusions Exhibition where visitors can actually walk through and participate in the illusions.  There is a walk up the stairs to reach it & it is not expensive to visit. Trip Advisor reviews are positive & it is an intriguing place to while away an hour or two during a visit down to Keswick.  It is not just for kids…
  • Tel 017687 751 02 or see

The Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre, Lowther, Penrith, CA10 2HH

  • Situated 1/4 mile from the entrance to Lowther Castle in the grounds of a walled garden, visitors are able to see over 150 falcons, hawks, eagles, buzzards and owls from this country and abroad.  These delightful surroundings are a perfect backdrop to the birds displayed and flown in the sport of falconry, and that are exercised daily at the flying demonstrations. The birds are displayed inside the walled area, which provides an ideal location for the aviaries which are designed to suit each bird’s individual needs.  There is also a lovely vintage tea room supplying delicious home made cream teas and other dishes, along with a craft and gift shop.
  • Tel 01931 712 746 or see

The Lakeland Pencil Museum, Southey Works, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5NG

  • Discover the colourful world that is home to a giant, an escape artist’s pencil, art adventures and the world’s longest colour pencil!  Be inspired by professional artists and create your own adventures in art. With workshops in creative crafts from animation, cartoons and illustrations to model making there is something for all the family to create.   Discover the secrets behind the fascinating history of the escape artist’s pencil that RAF pilots carried with them during the war to guide them safely home, in the Secret Pencil Exhibition.  Let the kids imaginations run free in the Kids Art Studio while the adults relax and have a cuppa and a sticky bun at the riverside location.
  • Tel: 017687 73626 or see

Fabulous country houses and gardens in the local area

  • Please refer to our great days out page for other attractions to visit in the local area.  Our absolute top three favourites to while away an afternoon seeing amazing historical houses and gardens which we have visited many times with friends and family include Dalemain near Ullswater, Hutton in the Forest in Inglewood and – a bit farther away but well worth the drive down to Kendal – Levens Hall and its amazing medieval yew topiary gardens – truly a wonder of Northern England.  All of these lovely homes and gardens have tea rooms which offer light snacks and delicious cakes, teas .


Fun for Families with Younger Children

Rheged Centre, Redhills, Penrith CA11 0DQ, along the A66 from Penrith

  • The large screen films are excellent – according to their website, it has the 3rd best equipped projection room in the country including 3D and shows a range of movies from nature & exploration as well as current mainstream films with a focus on movies for kids and families.
  • Rheged also has a collection of shops featuring local crafts, produce & restaurants.  Mums can relax in the Icon Spa which features Ren products…
  • Our kids have spent hours in their indoor soft play area, doing pottery painting, and exploring the castle themed outdoor playground.
  • Tel 01768 868 000 or see

Crafty Monkeys, 3 Corney Sqr, Penrith CA11 7PX

  • This is a welcoming pottery and crafts studio in the middle of Penrith which has a range of great activities for kids and adults including pottery wheels, pottery painting, glass painting, mosaic making, build a bear, plant pot painting.
  • It’s not just for kids and groups are welcome.
  • Tel 07595 901 977 or see

The World of Beatrix Potter at The Old Laundry, Bowness on Windermere LA23 3BX

  • This is a small charming exhibition starting with a film about Beatrix Potter then leading  around the gardens which has installations of the characters from the books.  It is a bit of a drive from the North Lakes & Eden Valley but may form part of a fun day out down to Windermere and around to see a part of the Southern Lake District. This is probably best suited to kids up to age about 7.  There is a cafe and a little book shop.  Tel 0844 504 1233 or see

Tree Top Nets Brockhole, Lake District Visitor Centre, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1LJ

  • Imagine over 1500m2 of giant trampolines, walkways, slides and tunnels all made from netting. Now picture this suspended between trees up to 9m off the ground and set in beautiful oak woodland.
  • This is a UK first and is designed to offer an amazing and adventurous way for both children and adults to play up high in the trees. Unlike traditional high ropes courses, you’ll be completely surrounded by 3m high walls of netting which means you are always safe and therefore do not need harnesses.
  • Treetop Treks is also available for ages 5 yrs upwards.  Try up to 35 exciting treetop challenges, designed to make you swing, climb, balance and fly through the ancient oak woodland canopy. You’ll be connected securely to the unique continuous safety cable which enables everyone to join in the fun.
  • To top it all off you will be able to race friends and family down the three parallel 250 meter zip wires taking in spectacular views of the fells and Lake Windermere.  Tel: 01539 447  186 or see

Walby Farm Park, Crosby-on-Eden, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA6 4QL

  • Walby Farm Park is an award wining Cumbrian  visitor attraction for families and groups.
  • There really is an opportunity here for everyone to take part in the numerous interactive sessions and facilities on offer from  ‘Meet the Animals’, (including many rare breeds), enjoy the thrills and spills of the outdoor play areas or Cumbria’s biggest indoor play area, take a stroll along the farm’s nature trail or just relax in the Curly Tails Café which serves delicious hot and cold home-cooked food.
  • Open year round, whatever the weather.  Suitable for all ages and abilities.
  • Tel: 01228 573 056 or see

Bitts Park, Carlisle, CA3 8UL

  • Owned by Carlisle City Council and operated by Carlisle Leisure, Bitts Park is a super fun and largely free day out for all the family!!
  • There is a fantastic children’s adventure playground with sturdy modern equipment including a Pirate Ship sand play area, all suited to 3 to 10 year olds.  You can also find a Putting Green, pretty good Crazy Golf course, a mini maze and both open air and under cover tennis courts!
    They also have a seasonal FunSplash water splash park (from Easter to October) with fun interactive features like spray jets and tipping bucket.
    There are pleasure walks and the riverside walk to enjoy as well as a stroll through the Japanese Garden.  The Hadrian’s Wall Trail also passes through this park.  A refreshments kiosk is on hand where any necessary equipment can be hired such as golf clubs and rackets etc.
    Annual events here include a huge bonfire and fireworks event in November, an ice skating rink during the festive period and a celebration during Love Parks Week in July.
  • Tel; 01228 591 628 or see
  • Urban Adventure, a private enterprise offering a thrilling high ropes adventure course for age 5 yrs +is also situated in Bitts Park.
  • Tel 0845 519 1782 or see



For further information on family activities in Cumbria see