Sometimes on a day out, you want something with a gentler pace of life and less glitzy than the big chains. The Lakes Aquarium and Lake District Wildlife Park were 2 places that fitted this more relaxed pace of life when we visited the Lake District.
I really wanted to visit the Lakes Aquarium by boat from Brockhole on Windermere, but N has a weird thing about avoiding boats at the moment. So we headed there by car after a morning elsewhere. The pay and display car park covers the aquarium, the Lakeside and Haverthwaite steam railway terminus, and the boat trips, and spaces aren’t necessarily marked out very well. So you might find yourself trying to squeeze into a space or waiting for someone to leave. We were lucky to find a space easily.
The Lakes Aquarium isn’t huge, and there’s a focus on freshwater creatures from the Lakes. You can see the types of habitats the fish live in in the Lakes, and there’s a great interactive learning area where you can get more involved in activities, and looking through magnifying lenses.
The aquarium also takes you through different regions of the world – Asia, Americas and the Rainforest, so there’s plenty to see. We still got to see the favourites – sea horses, turtles and rays. And of course there was the tunnel to walk through with carp and other large fish swimming around.
N was happy he’d got to go to the aquarium – it’s funny how he loves to go to them, even though you see mostly the same fish at all of them! Maybe he’s destined to be an oceanographer.
One of the best things was the drive through the countryside, the valleys and alongside various lakes on the way. The length of the lakes blew N away, and I loved that I could share some of my glacial geography knowledge. Crikey, I have turned into my mum, who always used to teach us about geographical features as we drove around Bassenthwaite for the wildlife park and Windermere for the aquarium.
Lake District Wildlife Park
The Lake District Wildlife Park is out in the sticks, and the car park is fairly small but arriving at lunchtime we did manage to get a space a bit of a walk away from the entrance. If you’ve a disabled badge, you can drive quite close to the entrance to drop off and pick up.
There was a queue when we arrived, but once inside we headed to the café straightaway. There’s both sandwiches (they didn’t look appealing, limited choice), paninis and hot food. I think the hot food would be a good choice if you want to eat a big meal as the portions looked a good size. N wanted a sandwich and I ordered a panini with the savoury cheese. She wasn’t joking when she said it would be messy (and not that nice either).
I thought the prices were extortionate. It’s a basic café, not a fancy place, and yet we’ve eaten much more cheaply in small and large places that are nicer in tourist attractions further south. I presume it’s because there’s nowhere else around to eat. So take a picnic if it’s a nice day as there are places to eat around the park.
The Lake District Wildlife Park was a good size – easy to walk around, fairly compact. I’d have liked a few more signs or maps around the place to show where you’re heading but we did get given a map.
From birds to rodents, reptiles to large mammals, there’s plenty to see, and we just wandered as we wanted. Unfortunately there was quite a bit of rain when we were there, but we just got umbrellas out. We spent ages watching the meerkats – they seemed to be performing for us, and they had probably one of the biggest enclosures we’ve seen at a zoo.
The zebras were ignoring us, but the spider monkeys were pretty cool. Jumping around a lot, although one just wanted to sleep – it was getting annoyed by its monkey friends.
They have talks through the day, although we just missed the one with the lemurs, and the falconry was later in the day. The eagles were looking very supercilious as we walked past them in the rain while they were undercover on their perches.
We finished off our visit at the playground. It’s a large space with obstacle style nets and climbing frames. I though N would want to play there for a lot longer, although it was still a bit drizzly. There’s something for all ages, with some quite unique areas. In the sun, I imagine it gets very busy. If you’ve under 8s, there’s also indoor soft play.
For a half day trip there are plenty of animals and birds to see, with different activities and talks to watch. It filled our day well and it’s not a massively busy wildlife park like many of the ones we’ve been to before are. N was happy enough with our visit before we headed back to the hotel and pool for a dip.
You can see our trips over on Youtube.
Have you been to see the wildlife or fish in the Lakes?
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