When I mentioned to my brother we were heading up to the Lake District for a few days, he was most put out that we weren’t going walking. I don’t mind a walk, but I’m not a fan of hiking, and I get so hot just normally, trekking up a few hills and valleys would wipe me out! It was going to be a relaxing holiday, a bit of gentle walking, enjoy the hotel, and a few days out. Keeping an 8 year old entertained isn’t easy when you want to make the most of having a National Trust pass (this was the only holiday where we’ve not had time to get to at least 1 National Trust property – the plan to visit Wray Castle didn’t happen – too much swimming to do!)
We noticed Brockhole on Windermere visitor centre was just round the corner from the hotel. I looked it up, I knew it would be top of N’s places to visit. Being the Lake District visitor centre it was also free apart from the parking.
Travelling to Brockhole on Windermere
Brockhole Windermere sits right on the lake, with beautiful walks around it. As well as the visitor centre (which we didn’t actually visit), what most people go there for are the putdoor activities. It does get really busy, and by lunchtime you’ll be lucky to get a parking space.
A couple of different bus routes stop right outside on the main route – if you get the 955 from/to Ambleside you’ll be on an open top bus complete with tour commentary. It’s a bargain if you want a quick tour as well as getting to Brockholes. An alternative to walking or cycling, there is a water cruise. Brockhole on Windermere is one of the stops for several of the lake cruises, so you can combine it with visits elsewhere.
Our hotel was only a couple of miles away so we just drove as we were travelling on elsewhere afterwards. We arrived just before opening time for the activities, but we were still able to park, and go and play crazy golf as they were already set up.
What’s on at Brockhole visitor centre?
If you love outdoor activities, then you need to visit. For those who want a quieter time, there are walks, crazy golf, you can enjoy the kitchen garden and house. Or get a bite to eat in the restaurant or from the cafe. There’s also a BBQ in the summer months (delicious hot dogs!).
There’s something for everyone, children to adults. But definitely book before you go because slots fill up. You can check online for minimum age limits too. We saw several people trying to get younger children onto activities and the staff wouldn’t budge. Booking online also tells you how long activity slots are which means you can work out how long you have to get to the next activity.
For those into heights, there’s a Tree Top Trek course which goes across the car park in places, and ends up on a huge zip wire which looked great fun. Over 7s can do the full course, while 5-7 year olds can do a shorter easier course.
The alternative which younger children could do was the Tree Top Nets which are net play areas suspended in the trees up to 9 metres high off the ground. There were tunnels, walkways, trampolines and slides, plus huge balls to play with. N was gutted I hadn’t booked him onto that. Any age could have a go, and there were older children enjoying themselves as well as tots.
There’s a lovely large adventure playground for different ages, and a huge grassy area to play. If you want something a bit different there was a Brave the Cave activities, and laser shooting. I fancied trying the shooting, but you had to be 10 years old so N couldn’t do it.
For water sport lovers, you can take a boat out, paddle board or kayak. If you prefer cycling, they do bike tours which you can join or organise as a group.
Our activities at Brockhole
We started off with crazy golf. It was a lovely course although quite difficult, and with a bit of cheating N beat me by 1 shot. I did get a hole in one though. Like with most mini golf courses, there always seems to be one nightmare nemesis hole. With a Beatrix Potter theme it was a quirky course with some challenging obstacles.
I’d booked N onto the Crazi Bugz which were for age 6-16s, electric 4x4s, a cross between a tank and a jeep. It was 25 minutes of off roading experience for them – with 6 on the tracks at once. They had a short briefing – being taught how to press the 2 levers forward and back and then which to move for left or right. The tracks were all bark, bumpy and all over the place, so it was a challenge to keep them moving.
They had half the session just driving round, then some were given ‘hot potato’ balls that they had to throw into the others’ vehicles while they tried to get away. N proclaimed it the best activity he did all week. Not bad for £11 of fun. I wished they’d had an adult version.
Straight after we both had a go at the archery. This was an hour although how much you do depends on the size of your booking group. The group before us only had 3 people taking part, but our group had 9 people and only 5 shooting slots. So we had to alternate. It was probably a good thing because the next 2 days, my shoulder ached a lot from doing it.
Being a leftie I had to have a leftie bow and arrows. We both loved it, although neither of us are ever going to set the archery world alight (N had decided a couple of months ago he wanted a good archery set for a Christmas present, and after that we both want one!). We got some good tuition, safety advice and then practised shooting at the targets. Once we’d got used to that, the instructor set some challenges – archery pizza (I burnt mine by hitting the black), and N only had water and flour but no cheese or tomato sauce. Then we had a number challenge to see who could hit the highest – I was quite impressed with my 28 until the child next to me scored 32 (turns out he does archery at home with his Grandad), and another guy who did really well in all the challenges. Obviously a natural.
Our verdict on our Lake District activities experience
On a dry day, Brockhole on Windermere is the place to be for anyone who likes being outdoors and giving unusual activities a go. We had a lot of fun, and there was more to try if we’d had more time.
There’s plenty going on there, and it’s obviously popular given the car park was full most days we drove past. They can’t guarantee parking. So if you book for an afternoon slot activity and don’t want to spend the day there, think about using public transport, as there’s no other parking nearby.
We just wish we had somewhere near us at home where you could do a range of outdoor activities like that, instead of travelling to different places just to do one.
Check out our video of what we got up to
Have you ever been? What are some of your favourite outdoor family activities in the Lake District?
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