Wray Castle in the Lake District

Anyone who reads my blog regularly will probably know that we love a good visit to a National Trust property and make the most of our membership. On our trip to the Lake District we visited a number of National Trust properties, and one in particular was unlike any I’ve been to. Wray Castle.PhotoGrid_1494495988682

It’s a really unusual place as it was never anyone’s home. The original owner inherited a ridiculous amount of money and built this purely as a showpiece. So it is mock gothic. It was used as a sort of holiday home I guess, Beatrix Potter and her family even summered here when she was a teenager. So people brought their furniture with them, and then took it away again. It was eventually inherited by a teenage boy in Lincolnshire and being wealthy already he didn’t want it (can you imagine that? Bonkers) and it was very much unloved. It has been used as offices (there are sockets all over the walls, imagine working in castle?) and all sorts.

So unlike most other National Trust properties it came to them empty, with no family furniture or family history, and I adore what the Trust have done with it as it is probably the most child friendly National Trust place we’ve visited, and that’s saying something as most National Trust places are quite child friendly. There is a bit of history downstairs but as soon as you go upstairs it is all about the kids. There is a colouring room for them to colour their own crowns and the walls are decorated with framed children’s drawings. There is a story room with lovely children’s books where the walls are decorated with lovely fairytale murals.PhotoGrid_1494497213531

The next room is all about dressing up as Knights and Kings and Queens and Princesses. Most  costumes were far too big for LM but they were perfect for Monkey and we did find one dress that just about fit LM (and she does love a pretty dress), aren’t they adorable? Good childhood fun!PhotoGrid_1494497319431

Continuing through the house you come to The Peter Rabbit Adventure. A whole wing of the castle dedicated to the stories of Beatrix Potter. The kids adored this bit and we could have stayed there for hours. Playing cooking and tea making in Peter’s burrow, planting and watering in Mr McGregor’s garden. Then upstairs is squirrel Nutkin’s Tree house, and Jemima Puddleduck’s nest, with yet more dressing up, as Peter and his sisters.PhotoGrid_1494497580614

It didn’t end there as there was a room filled with soft play bricks for you to build your own castle (which we all had great fun with), a room with a table tennis table, a room with a billiards table, a room dedicated to the local area with stones to build your own stone wall, and magnifying glasses for you to investigate the rings of a tree.PhotoGrid_1494497880398

Honestly, there was so much to do! When it was time for lunch we were unsure about eating our picnic outside (as it was pretty chilly) , but thankfully there was an indoor picnic room on the top floor. Set up as a tea party you could play and eat in there. So after eating our yummy lunch we had fun with yet more dressing up and all enjoyed trying on the various hats available.PhotoGrid_1494498185738

With our energy restored after lunch we headed outside. The castle has some lovely grounds and woodland to explore…PhotoGrid_1494498472575

… But of course we were drawn to the fantastic adventure play area. The kids (big and small) all had a whale of a time outside.PhotoGrid_1494498631817

I think you’ve probably got what I was talking about in terms of it being all about the kids! It is a spectacular place to see from the outside and a fantastic fun-filled place to visit. I definitely recommend it to anyone visiting the Lake District with children.

Lakeside Aquarium, Lake District

We visited some amazing places on our recent trip to the lakes, and I was so impressed by how child/toddler friendly many of them were. One place that I was particularly impressed with, was the Lakeside Aquarium, which was wonderful and fantastic value for money.

We’ve been to numerous sea life centres which are amazing but are also really expensive. When I saw the flyer for the aquarium, and how low cost it was, to be completely honest I assumed it wouldn’t be that amazing. But oh how wrong I was! There was just as much as at some of the smaller sea life centres. True it didn’t have a play area outside or water play area like at Weymouth, but it had it’s own unique exhibits.

I had thought that there would only be fish and animals from the lakes area but in fact there were exhibits and zones of animals from all over the world, in addition to the local wildlife.PhotoGrid_1493976063557

One of the favourite exhibits for us was the incredible display of leaf cutter ants. I was a little nervous for LM as it was almost entirely open to the touch, but we managed to keep her from touching any ants. The incredible thing about the display, was that you could really see the ants carrying leaves and bits of food up and down the ropes back to the nest. There were also panels meaning you could see inside the nest to see the different ants doing all of their jobs. I won’t go on but it was incredible and hubs, Monkey and pops were well and truly transfixed! PhotoGrid_1493975678598

We also loved watching the otters being fed and I was very pleasantly surprised to find an underwater tunnel which was really lovely. Above this were some ducks, which LM loved, and we were fascinated by as some of the male ducks were showing off for a female!PhotoGrid_1493975847572

There is a lovely coastal area with open pools containing star fish and anemones. There was a great fun dress up area with some sea animal costumes for adults as well as children. With everyone busy looking at the animals I snuck on a crab outfit (daft as I am) and amused myself by sneaking up on my family members and giving them a shock lol! Hubs then dressed as an octopus, Monkey as a shark and LM was so cute dressed as a starfish haha (she wasn’t hugely impressed though I’ll admit!) PhotoGrid_1493976558814

I was so surprised with how many animals there were as there were also Marmosets, piranha fish, terrapins, a big tortoise, rays, clown fish, frogs, snakes, and literally all sorts. Under 3s go free and there were a variety of family tickets for 2 adults and different amounts of children. So for us a family 5icket with 2 adults and 1 child it was only £15.95 and I think there are discounts if you buy tickets online. It really was such good value and I would highly recommend it.

I did not receive any compensation for this blog post. We paid to visit and was so impressed that I wanted to share my thoughts.

Our Lake District Holiday

I love to travel. I’ve travelled the world (literally) and can get quite itchy feet in between holidays so am always planning our next adventure. Much as I do like a bit of a relaxed holiday from time to time, I do prefer a bit of an explore. Hubs isn’t great at sitting still either and with active kiddies we, in general, prefer to be out and about a lot on our holidays. We have been abroad with the kiddies but we love our UK holidays too. There are some stunning places in the UK, and our recent holiday took in one of my favourites, the Lake District.

It’s been a bit of a cheeky one as it is in term time. Monkey isn’t yet 5 so as he’s not yet of “compulsory school age” we can get away with doing it without getting a fine, and as the timing worked better for my parents, and little brother and fiance,  to join us, we decided to do it. Plus of course it was much cheaper.

We rented out a lovely, and very large, cottage for the 8 of us, in Lakeside at the south western edge of Lake Windermere. I have been to the lakes a few times before and just love the lakes and mountains.

In short we’ve had an amazing week. I will write some more posts about some of the specific places we’ve visited over the next few weeks but on the whole we’ve done so much! Here’s a brief rundown (with tonnes of photos, obviously!)

We’ve seen a castle and an aquarium.PhotoGrid_1493882977216

We’ve been on a boat trip up Lake Windermere, visiting Ambleside and Bowness along the way.PhotoGrid_1493883143705PhotoGrid_1493883339332

We’ve been to Beatrix Potter’s cottage, Hill Top and had afternoon with a gorgeous view at the hotel next door. We’ve been to the Claife viewing station on the edge of Windermere and the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead.PhotoGrid_1493883804827

We had a day close to the cottage, with a nature trail and adventure play area followed by a yummy lunch at a nearby hotel, before taking an amazing walk through the stunning woods opposite our cottage.PhotoGrid_1493885272383

We visited Coniston and Tarn Hows where we saw some stunning waterfalls and amazing scenery before stopping at the Bobbin Mill to learn how bobbins were made. (This was actually fascinating and the tour was much more interesting than I thought it would be!) PhotoGrid_1493885452370PhotoGrid_1493885857985

PhotoGrid_1493885628737Finally we visited another lovely castle with the most amazing gardens I have possibly seen, and a lovely wild adventure trail. PhotoGrid_1493916051487

So it has been a busy but amazing week. We have seen and done so much… and yet we’ve barely touched the surface in terms of things to do up here.

Have you ever visited the lakes with your kids?