The Lake District is fortunate to have a number of properties, parks and outdoors spaces run and managed by the National Trust. If you’re coming to holiday here then a Trust membership will get you great value and automatic entry to all the attractions and car parks in the area.
From famous literary homes and ancient castles to wide open spaces and stunning lookout points. Take a look at nine of our favourite National Trust days out in the Lakes.
Just 2.5 miles from our Ambleside holiday park is the majestic Wray Castle. The Victorian neo-gothic building was built in 1840 and the building and land was donated to the National Trust in 1929. The castle is set in a secluded spot at the head of the Lake Windermere and is great for exploring both inside and out.
In the castle grounds there are also some walking trails which weave visitors around the surrounding woodland and to the shores of the lake. This area is great for younger visitors to run around and burn off some energy. There are a fantastic variety of specimen trees here to see including redwood, weeping lime and varieties of beech. The castle and grounds are open year round for visitors.
Roman Fort ruins at Ambleside
If you are keen on ancient history then take the time to visit this National Trust location. Discover the ruins of a Roman Garrison on the shore of Lake Windermere. They are located just a couple of miles from our caravan park just outside Ambleside at the northern tip of Windermere.
A world away from the peaceful setting it is now, Ambleside Roman Fort was once a bustling, lively place. Towards the end of the 1st century AD, a small timber fort was built here to house a garrison of 200 men.
Today you can see the remains of the main gate, the south gate, the commanding officer’s house, the headquarters building and the granaries. This is a great spot if you’re looking for a nice peaceful place to eat your lunch away from the crowds.
Hill Top (Beatrix Potter’s cottage)
Whether you’re an avid fan of her books or not we highly recommend a visit to Beatrix Potter’s cottage – Hill Top. It is one of the great National Trust days out in the Lakes. Better still it is less than 20 minutes away from Skelwith Fold.
The author bought this property in 1905 with royalties from her first book ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’. She went on to write many more of her famous children’s books here.
This lovely place is now a popular writer’s house museum. When visitors step into the farm house they are instantly transported back over 100 years into the past. It is a time capsule of Potter’s life and seems as if she has just popped out for a stroll.
She used the house and the nearby countryside as inspiration for many of her books. It’s not difficult to imagine her charming characters running around the garden and having adventures in the areas surrounding the farm.
Although Sizergh is just outside the national park boundary it would be amiss of us not to include it in this list. The expansive grounds and fascinating medieval buildings on the estate make it one of the best National Trust Days out in the area.
Interesting the main house is still occupied by the Strickland family. As such it feels very much lived in, with centuries-old portraits and fine furniture sitting alongside modern family photographs. Outside there is 1400 acres of gardens to explore as well as wildlife walks around the estate.
Once you’ve explored all that’s on offer here head to the bright and airy cafe for a bite to eat. The freshly cooked food and and good selection of drinks are sure to refuel your energy levels. There is also a well stocked shop to purchase a souvenir of your visit.
Claife Viewing Station
If you board one of the Lakeland ferries from Ambleside you can hop off on the western shores of Windermere. Here you can discover the wonderful Claife Viewing station which offers exceptional view down England’s largest lake.
Once on the viewing platform there are coloured panels which you can look through to admire the scenery. There is also a wind harp to entertain you on a blustery day. Learn about the building’s colourful history and relax in the quaint café in the courtyard. The Ash Landing Nature Reserve is just down the road if you fancy some wildlife spotting.
If you’re wanting to explore further from here, set out on the 4-mile lakeshore path which leads to Wray Castle. This flat route is suitable for the whole family either by foot or bike. You can return to Bowness or Ambleside on the boat from Wray Castle or Bark Barn, or refuel in the castle’s café and retrace your steps back to the ferry.
If you’re after some open space to run around in that doesn’t involve a strenuous hike then head to Fell Foot park. Located near to the southern tip of Windermere the shoreline park benefits from some wonderful views up the lake.
If you’re keen to get on the water there are a number of outlets where you can hire all manor of vessels. From kayaks and paddle-boards to boats and pedalos you can rent whichever craft takes your fancy. Easy lake access makes the park perfect for getting on the water.
There is a good size car park here which is free for National Trust members. It is just a short distance from the park so you can come and go from your car throughout the day. Overall this is a great, family friendly location to play, explore and relax.
Beatrix Potter Gallery
Another destination for Peter Rabbit fans is the Beatrix Potter gallery in Hawkshead. Here you can get up close to some of the authors original artwork. They are on display within a 17th-century house which formally served as the office of Potter’s solicitor husband.
For anyone who has ever been enchanted by Beatrix’s endearing characters, the gallery is the place to go to marvel at her miniature masterpieces.
Beautiful Tarn Hows offers a circular walk of under 2 miles. It winds through stunning countryside with majestic mountain views to accompany you. It was part of the legacy which Beatrix Potter left to the National Trust in her will.
It’s a great spot for a short walk or to begin your wider Lake District countryside adventure. There are usually Herdwick sheep grazing by the tarn – a common inhabitant in the Lakes.
Tarn Hows is located in the low level hills between the villages of Coniston and Hawkshead. It is ideal for a walk or cycle trip from either. It’s a favourite with both regular and first-time visitors to the area. It is popular with artists and photographers who love the setting and the views.
The Langdales have become one of the go-to places in the Lakes for adventure. Originally popular with rock climbers the area is now known to be a great starting point for many fell walkers. Running east to west from the high central Lake District fells, Langdale boasts Bowfell and Crinkle Crags at its head. It then meets with the adjoining Grasmere, Rydal and Ambleside valley to the north of Windermere.
Once you’ve finished exploring the area for the day head to the Sticklebarn pub to relax. This isn’t a traditional pub experience, it’s a National Trust pub and as such things area done a little differently. Whilst the food and drink on offer will be familiar the pub has been built using materials found only in the valley.
Continuing that trend they source everything possible from the valley for the day to day running. Water is from the surrounding fells, wood fuel is from Trust land and electricity is generated from the torrents coming down the ghyll. They also try to ensure ensure that every penny made is invested back into conserving the local landscape.
We hope this list provides you with some good National Trust days out to add to your itinerary. If you are interested in becoming a member you can join online or at many of their locations in the Lakes.