Family travel, UK

Family fun in the lake district – more summer holiday adventures

After our week at One World Festival  we had a couple of days at home to unpack / load a gazillion loads of laundry / blitz the house again before heading off to our second adventure of the summer hols: Kirby Lonsdale and the Lakes, home of the Romantic poets that I loved to read and analyse when I was doing my Oxford English degree.

Gardens at Rydal Hall in Lake District

While all these photos were taken out and about, this post is being written in bed. Chiswick Boy is asleep, I’ve cleared the tables of the dishes from the lovely fish pie Chiswick Daddy cooked, hung up the laundry, swished round the bathroom sink, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher.

Such is the life of the parent blogger!

As I was rushing around with my dishcloth, Chiswick Daddy kept on telling me stop.

“Just get on with your writing,’ he said. “What if Wordsworth had said ‘oooh I’ve got a great idea for a poem about daffodils, but I’ve just got to load the dishwasher'”

Aha, I replied. And they wonder why there aren’t more great female writers in the English canon of literature, or famous painters. Not much chance to stagger to the studio with a baby hanging off your boob, another one hanging off your arm, and a stew to rustle up from the latest potato crop.

Anyway I digress – this was meant to be a travel blog post about the Lakes. And by goodness it will be. Just watch. Here you go:

Kirby Lonsdale – walks, coffees and glorious nature

salt pie lane in kirby lonsdale

Kirby Lonsdale is a really sweet market town nestled between the Dales and the Lakes, on the River Lune.

It was praised by Ruskin, who patrotically called this view ‘one of the finest in England, and therefore the world’:

Ruskin's View, Kirby Lonsdale

Could be the finest view in England, according to Ruskin

It’s now actually called Ruskin’s View. Opposite this bench there’s a plaque that says a person bought this stretch and donated it to the local council so that everyone could enjoy the view. Rather bizarrely, and slightly menacingly, it says that it hopes people now take on their responsibilities and look after it. (I’m paraphrasing wildly here, I didn’t take a photo.)

It’s a jolly good view though. In fact, as this display tells you – it was painted by Turner in 1822.

Rusin, Kirby Lonsdale, Turner

Ruskin’s view plaque

Coffee and scones in a clock-laden cafe

If you read my blog regularly then you’ll know that coffee features heavily in both my normal life and holiday line up.

One of the best bits for me about going anywhere – UK or abroad – is the chance to try new coffee shops. When I was at university I had a boyfriend who couldn’t see the point in going in and paying for a cup of tea, when you could make one at home with your own tea bag for pennies.

It took me just a day of tramping him around one of my Derbyshire stamping grounds, Matlock Bath, stopping in quaint cafes for tea and a scone, to make him realise how delightful an occupation cafe hopping is.

On our first morning in Kirby Lonsdale, we walked up the hill to town and decided on the  Number Forty Four cafe, 44 Main Street. The ‘we’ is Chiswick Daddy, my lovely Nephew Bee and Chiswick Boy, and me!  My very clever, literary sister-in-law was off to her Wordsworth conference with Baby Dee and my brother had gazed at us hopefully and said ‘Well I’ll leave you to head off with the kids while I catch up on some reading’!


clocks in the forty four cafe in kirby lonsdale

This is my 3-year-old nephew on the left by the way, alongside Chiswick Boy.

I love a cafe that brings you a pot of crayons and some stuff to colour in. Top marks there.

coffee in kirby lonsdale

My sister-in-law was rather nervous about me going to the cafes, knowing how particular I am about my coffee and also knowing how difficult I find it to get a decent cappuccino.

But the coffee was okay actually – definitely somewhere I’d try again. And we accompanied the coffee with chocolate brownie and scone.

eating chocolate brownie in kirby lonsdale

cream tea in kirby lonsdale


Nephew Bee took some time to examine Chiswick Daddy’s head while Chiswick Boy polished off his milk.


children drinking hot chocolate in kirby lonsdale


Rydal Hall, Ambleside

One of the most surprising finds for me was Rydal Hall. This conference centre is set in gorgeous grounds, with plenty of woodland, a stream and a cafe. You can even go glamping here.

We came to meet Sister-in-Law at her Wordsworth Conference, and spent the whole day here. Incredibly peaceful, and well worth a visit (I know you wouldn’t normally think of ‘visiting’ a conference centre, so particularly thrilled at being able to impart this little bit of knowledge to you!)


Walking through Rydal Hall gardens in Lake District


A fellow academic generously offered to share their family picnic with us all, and showed us this great spot by the stream. Perfect for getting out all the wellies, balls and frisbees from the car.

Rydal Hall, Cumbria

Crossing the stream at Rydal Hall, Cumbria

I should have taken more photos of the picnic really. Sometimes my family  gets so cross with me for documenting everything. ‘Just sit down and eat,’ Chiswick Daddy will say – ‘No-one is interested in seeing photos of us eating.’

So you’ll just have to imagine three families, an 8 year old, two 3 year olds and 2 babies all having lunch, playing games and paddling in the stream.


Snakes in the wood

Only felt ones luckily.

Textile sculpture at Rydal Hall, Lake District

Textile sculpture at Rydal Hall

The organic sculpture trail in the woodland behind the cafe was the highlight for me. I love textile sculptures, and I particularly love art that is in the wild, with no ‘no touching’ signs… that you can climb through, feel and play with.

Sculpture trail, Rydal Hall, Cumbria

Sculpture trail at Rydal Hall

Dianne Standen‘s works are designed to naturally erode with the elements. And in places they’re hard to distinguish from the natural moss itself, melding completely with their surroundings. When they disappear completely they are replaced, so that the trail itself is constantly evolving and changing.

IMG_5103 copy


For children, and those who are thankfully still children at heart, the woodland interactive area is the highlight. Textile dens are hidden around, with felt creatures inside to find, play with and replace.

Nephew discovers felt hedgehog in a textile sculpture

Finding the creatures of the wood

Watch out on my blog soon, for two more features about our time in the Lakes.

  1. A full photo walk through our wander round the Sculpture Trail
  2. Our circular waterfall walk at Ingleton

PS We stayed at Lunefield Farmhouse in Kirby Lonsdale, a gorgeous holiday rental owned by my sister-in-law’s family. So check out if you fancy a trip to the Lakes and Dales.

Lunefield Farmhouse, Kirby Lonsdale, rental

Lunefield Farmhouse in Kirby Lonsdale

Have you ever been to the Lakes? What are your top spots for family days out?


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