on July 4, 2009
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.
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