Where to visit in South Cumbria
by Fiver29 on June 30, 2009
South Cumbria is often largely ignored because of the attention given to the Lake District and the northern lakes and mountains.But there are a lot of lovely attractions in the South and I shall try to add more as I remember them.The South Lakes Animal Park which I've already added to this journal is probably one of the best zoos I've been to in England. They care deeply about their animals, and conservation is high on their list of priorities.Barrow is not particularly known as a tourist town, but it has two lovely beaches and a great park.
Barrow in Furness, as soon as I say those words 99 times out of 100 the reply will be 'where’s that?’ Except when you're speak to people from Barrow that is. I thought I'd write this little guide in case anyone was coming to the area, especially as we have cruise ships arriving at the docks now, so more and more tourists are finding us. ~Where is it?~ Barrow in Furness (or Barra as it's known) is in South Cumbria within the Furness peninsula. Still no idea? Well the easiest way to describe it is, just south of the Lake District or not too far north of Blackpool. The A590 takes you from the M6 and straight to Barrow and is nicknamed the world's largest cul-de-sac, because it comes into Barrow then the only thing to do is turn around and go back out again. ~About the Town~ Barrow is an average sized town, with a population of around 60,000. Originally part of Lancashire, it’s now part of Cumbria. The town was built up around the shipyard; most of the original housing was built to house the workers. The shipyard however is now past its heyday and most of the engineering work and factories have closed or down sized dramatically, so the main employers are now the local Health Authority and retailers. ~Local Points of Interest~ *Shops* Barrow is not known for its shopping, most of the shops are confined to two streets, with the highlight being Debenhams. Other national retailers include, Gamestation, Jessops, M & S, and Body Shop. But the majority of the main shopping street is made up of charity shops or banks, with many of the shops at the present time being empty. There is also a small out of town Retail Park, which houses the likes of Next, Comet, Currys and Tesco Extra. As well as Tesco, other supermarkets include Asda, Morrisons and 6 branches of the Co-op. *Pubs and Clubs* Barrow has the same variety of pubs as the majority of towns in the country. There are the usual drinker’s pubs, and the food lover’s pubs, plus one pub with a 'Fuzzy Ed's' attached for children to play. Along Cornwallis Street (also known as The Gaza Strip) are Barrow's nightclubs. There are 6 clubs which all open until the early hours of the morning. In addition to these clubs there is also the Princess Selandia, a floating nightclub and restaurant. *Food* There are cafes and restaurants a plenty in Barrow. There are Chinese, Indian, Italian, Thai and English restaurants. Take aways selling Chinese, Indian, Pizza, Kebabs, Baked Potatoes, Fish and Chips. Then of course there are McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, and plenty of small local cafes in the town centre. *Tourist Attractions* Barrow only has one real tourist attraction to call its own, Furness Abbey. A 12th century ruined abbey, once belonging to the Cistercian monks, now it’s part of English Heritage. There is also the Dock Museum, a small museum dedicated to all things maritime, and celebrating Barrow's links with the sea, and telling the history of shipbuilding in Barrow. Just outside of Barrow, in a town called Dalton in Furness there is the South Lakes Animal Park. In my opinion one of the best zoos in the country. Not only does it have a great selection of animals, but it offers people (and children in particular) the opportunity to interact with many of the animals; Lemurs, emus, penguins and giraffes. ~Other Things To Do In Barrow~ Barrow has a beautiful park at its centre. In the past few years the play area has undergone a transformation with the old roundabouts and swings being removed, and climbing frames, zip slides and an interactive Bop It style play frame installed. In 2008 the second play area was bulldozed and a concrete skate park was built, which is extremely popular with the skate boarders and stunt bike riders. Also in the park there's a mini golf course, bowling greens, a greenhouse and a lake with swans and geese. During the summer there is boat rental with rowing boats and pedal boats. The Park Leisure Centre has also undergone a £1m refit, with improvements to the gym. At weekends it holds a roller disco (there's a blast from the past) and the hall can be booked for children's parties, badminton, table tennis etc. The swimming area has a training pool, and a leisure pool with a wave machine and water slide. Barrow also boasts two different types of beach. On Walney Island you'll find a stony beach with a small play area for the children and generally an ice cream van in attendance. At Roanhead there is a beautiful sandy beach with plenty of sand dunes to ensure you can find a nice quiet spot. There is a permanent shop, but it is very small and only sells the bare necessities for the beach. Parking is also at a premium at Roanhead, which means on a sunny day you really need to get there early to get a parking space. When the weather is bad, and presuming you have children there is always the Custom House. This is split into two zones, the play zone for the very young, which has a soft brick play area, and the laser zone, where older children can have fun shooting at each other with laser guns. There is also a restaurant for the adults. Of course Barrow is only 20 minutes or so away from the Lake District which offers countless attractions. ~My Thoughts~ I've lived in Barrow for years, interspersed with times away due to work commitments and I can only say, of all the placed I've live Barrow is by far the best. Okay it’s not the most dynamic place; it's generally a few years behind the rest of the world when it comes to new innovations. But it’s also relatively quiet, there is some trouble on occasion, but what town doesn't? And compared to the big cities you could almost say it’s a trouble free zone. I am not afraid to let my children play out, and that means more to me than being at the forefront of development. I think at some points everyone thinks their home town is dull, the council are only in it for themselves, or they wish there was more. But I am happy with Barrow as it is, for me it has everything it needs, anymore and it would spoil the area. ~Anything Famous About Barrow?~ Chewits once described themselves on their advert as 'Even chewier than Barrow in Furness bus depot'. Emlyn Hughes the England and Liverpool FC footballer was born in Barrow and now has an office block named after him. Dave Myers, one of the Hairy Bikers is also from Barrow. I hope that has given you a little insight into Barrow.
by Fiver29 on July 11, 2009
The Dock Museum in Barrow in Furness is named because it’s built into an old dock once used by the shipbuilding firms over the years.DirectionsIf you’re coming in by car you can reach the Dock Museum by driving straight down the A590 from the M6 motorway, it takes about 35 minutes from the motorway to reach Barrow. There’s a free car park at the museum that holds more than enough cars on any given day. Beware though if by some strange chance the car park is full, don’t be tempted to park at Tesco across the road, you will get fined.If you arrive by train, you’ll have to walk to the museum from the station or get a taxi, as the only bus service which runs past the museum doesn’t go close to the railway station. The walk would take about 10-15 minutes on average.Opening Times (Copied from the website for ease)Easter to October Inclusive (Summer)Tuesday to Friday 10am - 5pm.Saturday and Sunday 11am - 5pm.Last Admission 4.15pm.Open Bank Holiday Mondays - High Season OnlyNovember to Easter (Winter)Wednesday to Friday 10.30am - 4pm.Last Admission 3.15pm.Saturday and Sunday 11am - 4.30pm.Last Admission 3.45pm.AccessibilityThe museum if fully accessible for people in wheelchairs as there is a lift that covers all three floors. They also have touch tours for the visually impaired, with information sheets in large print and Braille. For those with hearing difficulties, the film has a hearing loop. Guide dogs are the only dogs allowed in the museum itself, although many people walk their dogs along the channel front.Outside the MuseumThere are a couple of exhibits outside the museum, the main one being the retired lifeboat, and the large rudder. The main thing outside however is the playground. This is quite well used by local children and it’s rare you’ll find a quiet time, unless you are visiting during the school day. There is a large wooden boat in the centre of the playground, with various slides and climbing ropes. There’s also a large rope climbing frame, and rope roundabout. For smaller children there’s a smaller wooden boat in a sandpit area. However, be aware that the area is not supervised by any staff, and many children are left to their own devises in the playground, and on occasion I have seen older children entering the sand pit and throwing sand around.There’s also a walk from the front of the Dock Museum along Walney Channel (a small body of water that separates Barrow in Furness centre from Walney Island). This is popular with dog walkers, and with families.They also have a few picnic tables, which many people use after buying food from the cafe, so they can watch the children at the same time.Inside the Museum Admission to the museum is free, however at the front you’ll find a gift shop, and they are also happy to take donations. The gift shop is only small, and mainly sells little items such as pens and pencils, books about the history of the area and the history of shipbuilding.There is also a small cafe at the front; they sell a small variety of hot and cold food and drinks, as well as a selection of ice creams and lollies. The cafe has informal tables and chairs for eating, or comfy lounge chairs if you’re just stopping for a drink.On to the museum itself; well unsurprisingly much of it is all very nautical, there are a lot of glass houses exhibits showing scaled models of different boats, items which can be found on boats (missile launchers and such like), and various wartime nautical memorabilia. They do have some none nautical bits and pieces, for instance they show how life had changed in Barrow over the years with a couple of small interactive exhibits, and displays showing how homes and schools would have looked when Barrow first began to expand into a town in the Victorian era.In the depths of the dock there’s a cinema, which shows 6 different films. The first shows Barrow from above, there’s a film about Furness Abbey, one about the railways, two about the shipyard, but my favourite is entitled ‘Is it grim up North?’ which is a rather funny look at how life is in Barrow.Throughout the year the Museum does various activities for children, for example at Easter they’ll do an egg hunt or have chick handling opportunities. Or later this year they are having a circus skills day where you can learn to juggle, spin plates, etc. These sessions often get very busy, because many of the locals take their children to these events.My ThoughtsThe museum itself is rather small, and if you’re not interested in all things nautical you’ll probably find it rather dull. There are a few things about Barrow and its history, but because Barrow is so wrapped up by the shipbuilding industry, even these bits of history are nautically based.I find that the scaled models don’t really give a sense of how impressive these ships are when you see the full scale version. I remember seeing HMS Invincible (the last aircraft carrier built in Barrow) and it was phenomenal, but seeing these ships, as nice as they look and as detailed as they are, just doesn’t have the same wow factor.The playground and Channelside walk suffer from the problem many places have, in that it is spoilt for the majority by the minority. The parents who let their children run riot in the playground spoil it for the children who are well behaved, and the dog owners who don’t pick up after their dogs spoil it for people who want to walk without being worried about what they might step in.The various activities that the museum run during the school holidays are always enjoyable, if a bit crowded, but my two have always enjoyed joining in, although my son is getting to that age where it’s not ‘cool’ to be seen to be enjoying it. So I’d say that they’re are probably activities best suited to under 10’s, or to girls, as girls seem to enjoy these sorts of things for longer than boys.The food in the cafe is nice and not too expensive either. Personally I wouldn’t bother with the gift shop, but for anyone with a keen interest in shipbuilding and industrial history, then it’s probably a good source for books.The museum probably takes about an hour to look round thoroughly, depending on the films of course. So I wouldn’t recommend anyone travel for hours to get there, but if you’re in the South Lakes area it’s well worth popping in for a visit.
by Fiver29 on July 4, 2009
Furness Abbey is a ruined abbey in South Cumbria, just outside Barrow in Furness. In its heyday it used to be the home of the Cistercian monks.Location********** The abbey can be found on the A590, approximately 30 minutes drive from the M6 and there’s a small car park outside the visitors centre. There’s a regular bus service (6A) which passes within a 10 minute walk of the abbey entrance, and this bus can be caught from the nearest bus stop to the railway station in Barrow. There’s a less frequent service from Dalton in Furness and other towns along the A590.Opening Times****************** Easter to Summer 10am-5pm 5 Days a Week (closed Tuesday and Wednesday).Summer to Autumn 10am-5pm 7 Days a Week.Late Autumn 10am-5pm 5 Days a Week (closed Tuesday and Wednesday).Autumn to Easter 10am-4pm Sat, & Sun.Admission Costs********************Adult: £3.50Children: £1.80Concession: £3.00English Heritage Members: Free.The Abbey*************The Abbey was built in 1123. It was given to the Cistercian monks in 1147, and was once the second richest Cistercian abbey in England, after Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire.It was built entirely from sandstone which was sourced from the local area, and many parts of the abbey are well persevered and stand majestically in place. It’s not hard to imagine how the site would have looked when it was complete.The monks of the abbey were highly influential in the area, and their influence spread as far as the Isle of Man, which can be found off the coast of Barrow in Furness, in the Irish Sea. One of the Kings of Man is buried within the grounds of the abbey.The abbey stood proud until Henry VIII took umbrage with the Pope and decided to destroy the Catholic Church and all its followers. The local story tells of how Henry’s soldiers missed the abbey because it is hidden from view in the Vale of Nightshade, but one poor monk rang the bell to sound the all clear far too early, and alerted the soldiers to its presence. The abbey and the monks were destroyed, and the ruins left for future generations to walk around.Obviously being an abbey, there are no end of ghost stories, ranging from the sightings of mad monks, to white ladies. One of the tracks leading from the abbey is known locally as Lady’s Walk due to the sightings. The abbey has had a few famous visitors; the most famous for locals is of course William Wordsworth, the Lakeland poet, famous for his Daffodils poem. He referred to the abbey in one of his later poems, The Prelude. The abbey was also visited by the Roosevelt family, where Teddy Roosevelt was seen running around the abbey grounds with his siblings. You can use the audio guide when wandering around the grounds, which will give details of the various buildings which are still fairly whole (the chapel, the North and South Transept, the Chapter House and Dormitory). It also details where other buildings would have stood and how well developed the drainage and water ways were for the time.Visitors Centre*****************The visitors centre is small, but has a lot of information dotted around. It doubles as the shop, but the selection of items available is very small and expensive. In the visitors centre you’ll find sconces and pieces of architecture and grave slabs that originally came from the abbey, but have been brought inside to avoid damage.Facilities and Accessibility*******************************Wheelchairs users have full access to the visitors centre and to the abbey grounds. However, there are lots of slopes and no pathways around the grounds, so some people may need assistance.For visually impaired visitors the audio guide is included in the ticket price, and for audio impaired visitors an audio tour with hearing loop is included in the price, and they also have the audio tour scripted if required.Dogs are allowed in the grounds, although they must be kept on a lead, and obviously any mess must be cleared up.There is a small selection of snacks, and people are welcome to bring picnics into the abbey grounds. Within a couple of minutes walk, you’ll find the Abbey Tavern which is a local pub that sells beer and meals.My Thoughts***************Furness Abbey is a lovely abbey to visit, and because is fairly well preserved in parts, it makes it much easier to imagine how the area would have looked back in the 12th Century, and how life might have been for the monks.The way the abbey is situated you will be driving up and thinking ‘where on earth is it?’ Then suddenly it’s right in front of you, it’s not hard to imagine that the local story about the soldiers missing is first time around could be true. After all, way back then there would have been no clear roads and the abbey would have been completely surrounded by trees.As it is, once you get close, you might wonder if it’s worth paying the entrance fee, because you can see all of the grounds from the road. But you can’t get a proper feel for the place from the roadside, nor can you find out which bits are which, and what would have been happening in different areas of the abbey. Although there’s a road running around the outside of the grounds, it’s not a busy road, so the whole area feels very tranquil (until the kids start yelling !!). It’s a great place to have a picnic, because there are plenty of open areas, and having the abbey as a backdrop is beautiful. During the spring, the area is surrounded by daffodils, and they look absolutely wonderful.Along the side of the abbey there are a few walks that are very popular with dog walkers, and you can see some of the remains of out buildings that the monks once used on these walks.Straight across the road from the abbey there’s a natural amphitheatre, now I don’t have good memories of this amphitheatre because it used to be part of our school’s cross country run! But this is also a great area to walk your dog, depending on the time of year you might have to have the dog on a lead due to sheep or cows being loose.If you’re not picnicking or walking dogs, it probably won’t take more than a morning or an afternoon to visit the abbey. In fact it’s more likely to take 2 hours at most (presuming you stop to look closely at things), but it’s well worth a visit.
South Lakes Wild Animal Park is about 10 minutes away from us, so we visit at least twice a year, and we are never bored. It’s not so much a zoo as an animal experience.How to get thereThe zoo is in Dalton in Furness, a small town in South Cumbria. It’s about 30 minutes from the M6 motorway along the A590, or you can get there by train or bus. If you’re using public transport you’ll have a 10-15 minute walk from the nearest bus stop and a 20-30 minute walk from the train station. There’s a free car park, unfortunately this isn’t the biggest car park in the world and gets full rather quickly. There is an overflow car park and staff will be out to direct traffic is necessary, the over flow car park is a couple of minutes walk from the zoo entrance.Admission InformationAdult: £11.50 Child 3-15: £8.00 OAP: £8.00 Under3's: FREE Friend of the Park: £1.50 Opening Times 4th April 2009 - 1st November 2009 10am - 5.00pm Last admission 4.15pmThe park is fairly unique in that many of the animals are free roaming, or are allowed to roam within their own areas in amongst the visitors. The free roaming animals are found in the Australasia section of the park, with lemurs, kangaroos, emus, etc. Food can be purchased at 50p a bag to feed the emus and the ducks. The lemurs are the only animals in that section that cannot be fed or stroked by visitors. The lemurs are the funniest animals in the zoo, they pretty much go wherever they choose, and are not afraid of people at all but they can bite, which is the reason you’re not allowed to feed them. Being approached by an emu can be a little scary at first, but they are quite gentle when taking the food from your hand. Also in that section there is a large walk in aviary, with parrot and vultures, visitors can watch the vultures being fed daily. This bit is only open to walkthrough when the keeper is there, if you go early in the morning you might find that the keepers are all busy elsewhere, in which case you can view the birds from outside the aviary. Another great feature of the park is the high walk ways. These allow visitors to see the animals from above, and in the case of the tigers on their climbing frame, the visitors can see them on the same level with no bars to spoil the view. The owner of the park also began the Sumatran Tiger Trust, so every day there is a talk on the work of the trust just before the tiger feeding. The zoo is quite proud of the way in which the tigers and lions are fed. It is unique in that the meat is attached to 6 metre poles and the cats have to climb for their food. This stops the cats becoming overweight because they actually have to work for their food. During the summer the walkways can get very crowded because everyone wants to see the cats climbing, so you’d be just as well to get to the walkway early and hang around for a while. It might seem a bit boring, but the wait is worth it, to see the power in the animals.The park is great for kids, as well as being able to feed the emus, ducks etc, they are able to join in with the lemur feeding under the supervision of the park staff. They can also help to feed the penguins and giraffes. They also have a ‘Meet the Snake’ time, where visitors can see a snake close up, and have the opportunity to stroke one.FoodThere are indoor and outdoor tables for taking picnics, and there’s also a restaurant on the site. They serve a limited range of hot foods, but they’re all of good quality, and they have a selection of cold snacks.Beware though, there are no lockers in the zoo, so you’ll either have to carry your picnic around, or you will have to leave it in the car until you are ready to eat.AccessibilityThe zoo is fully accessible for the disabled. There are very few steps on the walkways, and where there are a couple of steps they have a ramp beside them. The elevated walkways are all accessed by walking up ramps.It might not be the biggest zoo in the world, but I think it is the best thought out and the owner is interested in the conservation of animals not just creating a tourist attraction.
by Fiver29 on July 3, 2009
Sizergh Castle is a National Trust property which is located in South Cumbria in England, about 10 minutes from the M6 motorway means it's easy to get to by car. Public transport isn't so good, there are buses from Kendal and Grange which stop in the vicinity, but they aren't regular and there's still a bit of a walk after that. The nearest train station is 3 miles away in Oxenholme.The Castle*********The castle is a beautiful medieval house, famous for its Elizabethan oak panelled rooms some of which was once housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and has now been returned to the castle. It has been home to the Strickland family for over 750 years. The Great Hall was added to the house in 1450, and was extended in 1770.You can either walk around the house at your own leisure or you can take a guided tour. If you have children, they normally have a quiz for the children to do on the way around, which involves them having to search for information. This information is either on the boards or can be found around the rooms by examining the furniture and paintings. There are 3 quizzes which suit different ages of children.The rooms are beautifully laid out and there's such a lot to see in each room that it can take some time to get though them all. There are several levels in the castle, and one of the spiral staircases is extremely steep, although you don't have to go down this staircase there is an alternative route. There is supposed to be a ghost associated with the castle. The ghost is said to be that of a woman who was locked in the castle and starved to death by her husband, nice chap!The Garden**********The garden is spilt into different areas. The vegetable garden, all the vegetables grown in the castle grounds are used in the castle restaurant. The lime stone rock garden, which is a relatively new addition to the castle (it was added in 1926), but already has the honour of being the largest lime stone rock garden owned by the National Trust. They have a wildflower garden, a water garden and a small rose garden. Also in the grounds you'll find a lake and a small lawn. Walking through the lawned area and away from the castle, you'll eventually come upon the barn.The Barn*******Obviously an old barn, this area is used for different things throughout the year. Most of the activities are based around fund craft for the children. For example during Halloween they set out tables with masks and paints/glue/glitter etc for the children to decorate. They also have people there to show the children how to make spiders and witches hats, amongst other things. At Christmas they did something similar, with the children making Christmas decorations.Then another time of year they'll have an exhibition of country crafts, so they'll have people spinning wool on a wheel, or weaving with an old fashioned loom.Restaurant and Shop*****************As I mentioned earlier, the restaurant uses vegetables grown in their own gardens. There are indoor and outdoor tables, and they sell full meals and snacks, as well as hot and cold drinks. The restaurant is quite popular and can often get full at peak times. The restaurant is also licensed for anyone who's not driving and fancies a drink.The shop sells mostly National Trust souvenirs, with a few souvenirs that are limited to Sizergh Castle. They also sell plants, depending on the time of year.Accessibility**********There is limited access to the Castle for people in wheelchairs, they are only able to access the ground floor, where there's a limited amount exhibited. Obviously this is also a problem for pushchairs, but the castle provides baby slings and hip carrying infant seats. Dogs are permitted on the public footpaths, but they are not allowed in the grounds themselves.Opening Times and Admission************************Unusually the castle is not open on Friday's and Saturday's, which you'd think would be their busiest days. But as the family still live there, they obviously want the weekend to themselves. So the opening hours areCastle: 15 Mar-1 Nov 09 12--5* Monday to Thursday, plus Sunday Garden: 15 Mar-1 Nov 09 11-5 Monday to Thursday, plus SundayCafé/shop: 1 Feb-8 Mar 09 11-4 Saturday and Sunday 15 Mar-1 Nov 09 11-5 Monday to Thursday, plus Sunday 7 Nov-31 Jan 10 11-4 Saturday and Sunday* Guided tours from 12-1, ordinary opening from 1pm onwards.Admission to Castle and Grounds: £6.80, child 3.45, family £17.05, family (1 adult & up to 3 children)£ 10.25. Groups £6.40. Garden only: £4.45, child £2.25. Groups £4.15. Reduced rate when arriving by cycle or public transport.Extras*****The National Trust put on different events during the year, for instance, this year they are staging A Midsummer Night's Dream in the gardens. They also have a single cottage that is available to hire, which accommodates 8 and prices range from £445 per week in January, up to £1501 in August.My thoughts**********I love this castle, it's a great day out for a family. Unlike many places they cater extremely well for children, and they are unlikely to get bored here. Even if they're not overly interested in anything historical, the barn has some great activities and the lawned garden offers a great place for them to run around. One of the days we went to the castle the fire alarms sounded because some work they were having done. The staff were excellent and made sure that everyone exited the castle with no panic whatsoever. My only complaint was that it went off at the exact moment my ear was about 5 inches from the alarm, and I was almost deafened!! (Not their fault of course). The food in the restaurant is lovely, if a little expensive. But for the quality of the food and the freshness I think it's well worth paying that little bit more. The shop is expensive though, although I think the prices are standard across all the National Trust properties. Many of the items they sell could be bought elsewhere at a fraction of the price.The garden is my favourite place though, there are lots of wonderful beds and shrubs, the displays are superb and the scents are wonderful. There are plenty of spots to sit and relax and look out onto lovely scenes. From the gardens you can also see views of the Low Furness Hills and across Morecambe Bay.
The Aquarium of the Lakes is based at the Southern end of Windermere at Lakeside, Newby Bridge. DirectionsReaching the Aquarium by road is easy enough, from the M6 motorway you follow the A590 to Newby Bridge, then from there you’ll need to follow the Hawkshead road, but don’t worry there are plenty of brown tourist signs to follow. There is a car park outside the Aquarium, but it is not a free car park, you must get a pay and display ticket.Alternatively you can arrive at the Aquarium by boat or by train. To arrive by train you need to follow the A590 a bit further west, and look out for signs for the Haverthwaite Steam Railway. The parking at the railway is free, although they do ask for donations, and there’s an honesty box as you enter the car park. The trains run from Easter to October, and as the name suggests, they are old fashioned steam trains. When you buy your train tickets, you can either buy train tickets only, combined train and Aquarium or combined train, Aquarium and steamer tickets. Of course buying all three combined is cheaper than buying them individually.To arrive by boat you can catch one of the ferries or steamers from Bowness or Ambleside.Finally if you get one of the buses travelling from the local towns, the closest stop is at Newby Bridge, which is about a mile away.AdmissionAdult £8.75 £25.00 Child (3-15) £5.75 £20.00 Child Under 3 FREE Senior £7.25 Disabled Adult £6.65 Disabled Child £4.25 Family 2 Adults & 1 Child £20.20 £60.00 2 Adults & 2 Children £24.95 £75.00 2 Adults & 3 Children £29.70 £90.00 2 Adults & 4 Children £34.45These are the prices for the Aquarium only. If you book online you’ll save 25%, and as mentioned before there are special offers if you combine tickets.These are:Bowness – Lakeside40 minute return cruise and a visit to the Aquarium From 4/4/09 Adult £15.95 Child £9.20 Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) £47.50 Ambleside – Lakeside90 minute return cruise and a visit to the Aquarium From 4/4/09 Adult £22.75 Child £12.00 Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) £65.50 Lakeside - HaverthwaiteReturn steam train trip and a visit to the Aquarium: Adult £11.95 Child£6.60 Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) £35.50 Bowness - Lakeside - Haverthwaite Return steam train trip, a return half lake cruise (Bowness - Lakeside) and a visit to the Aquarium: Adult £20.25 Child £11.20 Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) £58.70 Accessibility The Aquarium is fully accessible for disabled people, and there is a lift between floors. They also have a wheelchair available to use if necessary.Inside the AquariumWhen you’re inside the aquarium you’ll go through all different areas. Firstly there is the journey underneath Windermere. Where you can see perch and carp as well as diving ducks. There’s also a waterfall close to the entrance, and you’ll be able to view otters.The next section is called the Leven Estuary (the Leven is the river which goes from Windermere to Morecambe Bay), and has a selection of pike and mermaid purses which are eggs from sharks, skates and rays, and are often found washed up on shore. At the moment they are carrying baby sharks.Following the path around you’ll reach the seaside section, which has a selection of starfish, sea anemones etc, creatures that you’ll find in rock pools along the coast. The Aquarium is working with the Morecambe Bay Conservation project and the Cumbrian Rivers Trust to ensure that the coastlines are protected.Next is the Morecambe Bay section, here you’ll find examples of cod, rays and British sharks. If you look closely you find lobster in there too. The Aquarium does talks here 3 times a day to educate people on the variety of life that can be found in the bay. You then have to go upstairs, where they’ve built a special tank which is on three layers. The tank houses brown trout and the layers ensure that they are able to jump ‘upstream’ as they would in the wild. Also in this are there’s a carp tank, with koi carp and mirror carp, and a 3D wall display of the Lake District to follow. In the next few sections you’ll move away from British fish and molluscs, and be able to view some of the more colourful species of fish of the Asian and Africa section, this is followed by the Rainforest section, and finally the Americas. A relatively new addition to the Aquarium is the Virtual Dive Bell, this is an interactive activity, where you go on a CGI voyage under the water and meet crocodiles, hippos and sharks. Finally there are a few smaller tanks, and information about the water cycles.Food and ShopThe exit can be found through the shop, where you find lots of stuffed toys and other general souvenir items for sale. For alternative souvenirs you can also visit The Quay which can be found on the station platform.The Aquarium doesn’t have anywhere for refreshments. However, there is a cafe attached to the railway station which doubles as the cafe for the Aquarium. The cafe which is called Oscar’s serves hot and cold food and drinks, and has a selection of homemade cakes. You can sit and look out across the lake as you are eating.My ThoughtsThis is a lovely little Aquarium, although I find it a bit expensive. We generally take advantage of the combined train and Aquarium tickets, because often it can be nearly impossible to find a parking space in the car park outside the Aquarium. Not only does the car park serve the aquarium, but it’s there for customers of the railway, the steamers and the Lakeside Hotel, all of which are very popular, especially during the summer months. The Aquarium does little quizzes for the children to answer on their way round. The hope here is that they’ll also learn something as well as just look at the fish; unfortunately my two tend to just ask the staff as they see them what the answers are!The decor is well thought out, they have areas which are kitted out as boats and beaches, so they’re not just plain old tanks all the way round.If you catch the right time, you’ll sometimes be lucky and find the railway and the aquarium doing special days. Quite often these involve Thomas the Tank Engine, but occasionally they are related to creatures found in the Aquarium, and on these days you may find that they have special offers on entrance fees.
by Fiver29 on June 27, 2009
Positioned at the South end of Windermere, Fell Foot Park is about 15 minutes away from where I live, so we visit on a regular basis.It is owned by the National Trust, and although once you're there you don't need to spend any money, there is a charge for car parking, I believe last year this was about £7 for the day. I am a National Trust member, so parking is free, and since we go well over 6 times a year, it more than covers the £42 membership we paid (although it will go up to £51 this year, still cheaper than the parking charges).As for the park itself, the obvious attraction is the lake, and on sunny days it's very busy in the lake itself with boats and swimmers. Boats are restricted to 10mph on the lake, and all boat owners appear to be very aware of the amount of children who swim in the lake.There is also a large grassy area, perfect for picnics and playing. Usually you'll find a couple of football games or cricket matches going on. I believe that barbecues are still banned from the park, due to carelessness in the past with people not putting them out properly.At one end of the park you'll find a children's play area, which went through a big refit last year, the park is in two sections, for young toddlers and older children.The opposite end of the park hosts a cafe, shop and boat house where you can hire rowing/motor boats. Of course in between there are gardens full of rhododendrons.My kids love Fell Foot, we take a picnic, a football, badminton racquets and the inflatable dinghy, and usually spend the entire day there. They love being able to swim in the lake, as well as taking the dinghy across to the other side of the lake, and exploring in the woods.The children's park is much better since the refit, my kids in particular love the new swings, which are huge baskets which they can lie down in whilst they are swinging to a fro. The apparatus is mostly constructed from natural materials (wood and rope) so they blend in nicely with their surroundings.We don't often use the cafe, because we bring our own food, but occasionally buy ice creams while we are there. The cafe seems to be very popular because there are always plenty of people queueing and sitting outside eating.Whether it's because most people go in when it's nice weather or not, and that brings out the best in people, but I find that everyone is very friendly when they are at the park, and people chat to other groups that they might never have met before. My kids are often invited by other families to join in with the football matches, and occasionally this has led to several families who've only just met joining in and having a huge football match.The only downfall for me is that they allow dogs on leads in the park. Now I know this will alienate all the dog lovers out there. But they can be very annoying for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there are owners who just don't care and allow their dogs to roam free. Then there are the owners who tie them up and wander off. The last time we went a couple brought their dog and pitched up close to where we had out picnic blanket out. They had one of the corkscrew dog holders (not sure what they are called), and they tied their dog to that. Which was fine until they decided to go for a walk on their own and leave the dog to look after their belongings. As soon as the couple were out of sight it started barking, and barked none stop until they came back about an hour later!!But they are rare events, overall the park is great, beautiful scenery, and a safe place for kids to play, you couldn't really ask for more.Just to add, after the mention of hills. There is a reasonably steep hill down to the lake itself. However, there's a ranger based in the car park, who has a buggy (like a golf cart), and he will drive people down to the front if they have trouble walking.
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