We had an abortive trip to Portinscale in the Lake District for our summer holiday last year, ended prematurely by illness. This year we’re back and have improved greatly on last years performance! Portinscale is just outside Keswick, a small town at the head of Derwentwater. In the past we would have stayed a little further from civilisation so we could go for longish walks from the door but with 3 year old Thomas a bunch of attractions in easy distance is preferable.
Day 1 – Sunday
Rather than fit packing and driving the relatively short distance to Portinscale from Chester into a day, whilst simultaneously meeting the arrival time requirements, we travelled up on Sunday morning. In the afternoon we went to Whinlatter Forest Park, a few miles up the road. The entrance is guarded by a fine sculpture of an osprey.
It has an extensive collection of trails for pedestrians and cyclists. A Go Ape franchise for people who like swinging from trees, some Gruffalo / Superworm themed trails for children. And a wild play area featuring Thomas’ favourite thing – a pair of Archimedes Screws:
There’s also a very nice cafe. We visited Whinlatter several times of an afternoon.
Day 2 – Monday
We went to Mirehouse in the morning, a lakeside estate with a smallish garden and a rather pleasant walk down to Bassenthwaite Lake.
There’s a fine view from the lake down towards Keswick.
In the afternoon we went to the Pencil Museum in Keswick, not a large attraction but Thomas liked Drew the giant and we got 5 pencils for an outlay of £3.
Day 3 – Tuesday
In the morning we went to Threlkeld Mining Museum. Its full of cranes and various bits of mining machinery from the past 100 years or so. There is a narrow gauge railway line which runs half a mile or so to the head of the quarry from the visitor centre. Threlkeld is not a slick affair but it is great fun for a small child fond of cranes, and the volunteers are obviously enthused by what they are doing. To be honest, I’m rather fond of industrial archaeology too!
Basically, they collect cranes.
All of which are in some degree of elegant decay
For our visit they were running a little diesel train:
In the afternoon we walked down to Nichols End, a marina on Derwentwater close by our house in Portinscale.
Day 4 – Wednesday
My records show that we last visited Maryport 15 years ago. It has the benefit of being close to Keswick – only half an hour or so away. We enjoyed a brief paddle in the sea, on a beach of our own before heading to the small aquarium in town.
Whinlatter Forest Park once again in the afternoon.
Day 5 – Thursday
On leaving the house we thought we would be mooching around Keswick whilst our car was being seen to for “mysterious dripping”, as it was Crosthwaite Garage instantly diagnosed an innocuous air conditioning overflow. So we headed off to Lodore Falls, alongside Derwentwater before returning to Hope Park in Keswick.
Thomas declared the gently dripping woods on the way to Lodore Falls to be “amazing”:
The falls themselves are impressive enough, although the view is a little distant when you are with a small child, who coincidently loves waterfalls and demands their presence on every walk:
Hope Park was busy, but it is a pretty lakeside area with formal gardens and golf a little back from the shore.
In the afternoon we visited Dodd Wood, which is just over the road from Mirehouse, where we did a rather steep walk.
Day 6 – Friday
On our final day we visited Allan Bank in Grasmere, this is a stealth National Trust property, formerly home to William Wordsworth and one of the founders of the National Trust, Canon Rawnsley. “Stealth” because it is barely advertised or sign posted, and is run in manner far more relaxed than any other National Trust place I’ve visited. It’s a smallish house:
With glorious views:
The house was damaged by fire a few years ago, and has only really been refurbished in as far as making it weather proof. Teas and coffees are available on unmatching crockery for a donation (you pay for cake though), and you’re invited to take them where you please to drink. There is a playroom ideally suited to Thomas’ age group, along with rooms Wordsworth and Rawnsley occupied upstairs.
It has the air of a hippy commune, and it’s sort of glorious.
Outside the grounds are thickly wooded on a steep slope, there is a path approximately around the perimeter which takes in the wild woods, several dens and some lovely views.
We glimpsed a red squirrel in the woods.
As Thomas wrote, it was "”Fun”!
In the afternoon a final trip to Whinlatter Forest Park.
We left on Saturday amidst heavy early morning rain, the only serious daytime rain of the holiday – probably the best week of weather I’ve had in the Lake District!