Free things to do in Cumbria with kids

7 mins read
Free things to do in Cumbria with – kid swinging on a gate near keswick
Free things to do in Cumbria with kids

Top 6 best free things to do in Cumbria with kids

Making memories as a family on days out is great fun. But the cost can soon mount up. If you’re having to watch the pennies, don’t worry. From treasure hunts to historic ruins, here’s our list of the top 6 free things to do in Cumbria with kids.

1. Head off on a treasure hunt

The best way to disguise a hearty walk is to turn it into a treasure hunt. There are lots of hidden treasures to be found in the Lake District. And someone has already done the hard work for you of setting up these challenges!

All you have to do is download the Geocaching® app to your phone. If you have a phone signal – not always a given in the Lake District! – you can use your phone to track down ‘caches’. These are hidden containers with tiny prizes, such as plastic toys or badges.

2. Stone skimming

This ancient art is something that can keep the whole family amused. First pick an aerodynamic stone. Something flat, disc-like and smooth is best. And then practise the ‘knack’ of skipping it across the lake. Again. And again. And again…

Family skimming stones on a lake - Free things to do in Cumbria with kids
Little boy is skimming pebbles on a lake with his father and grandfather.

Our many lakeshores are fantastic for stone skimming. In fact the Lake District often hosts the World Stone Skimming Championships!

3. Free festivals

There are lots of festivals throughout the Lake District and Cumbria. Although individual events may be ticketed, many include parades you can watch for free!

  • July: Derwentwater Regatta with lots of events taking place on and around the lake.
  • October or November: Winter Droving in Penrith with its Torchlit Parade is really atmospheric

4. Journey through history

Do your kids love the Horrible Histories TV series and books? Then head to these historic sites to spark their imagination! We love:

Castlerigg Stone Circle near Keswick – at 5000 years old, this is one of the oldest stone circles in Europe. It’s also in a fantastic location with mountains all around.

Castlerigg Stone Circle - Free things to do in Cumbria with kids
Dawn at Castlerigg Stone Circle near Keswick.

Hardknott Roman Fort – these 2nd century ruins housed a cohort of infantry soldiers from modern-day Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. What must they have thought of the English weather!

Tip: You will have to drive up the Hardknott Pass, one of England’s steepest roads, to reach this isolated spot. So if you’re a nervous driver, think about a bus trip instead.

Hoad Hill monument, Ulverston – this lighthouse-like structure is open most Sundays in the summer. The flag flies when you can go in. But even when it’s closed, the amazing 360 degree views are worth the hike up there!

Kendal Castle ruins – these are pretty impressive, with views across the town to the hilltops beyond. Download the Visit Kendal audio guides before you go to get the most out of your visit.

Long Meg and Her Daughters stone circle, near Little Salkeld – legend has it a wizard turned a group of witches to stone.

Penrith Castle ruins – once lived in by King Richard III, these ruins are surrounded by parkland and are free to visit.

Wray Castle on the shores of Windermere – the ground floor of this National Trust property is free for everyone! There are exhibitions inside and lots of grounds to run around in. The woods are ideal for den-building. There’s also a shingle beach where you can paddle.

5. Getting back to nature

One of our favourite things to do as a family is settling down for a day by a lake or a river. Here are some suggestions:

  • Trying to dam up streams with rocks
  • Creating ‘frog houses’ with stones, pebbles and twigs
  • Looking for fossils – try Whitehaven beach for the best chance of this – or ‘witch’ or hag stones with a hole in the middle
  • Building dens
  • Climbing trees
Kinds climbing trees in the Autumn - Free things to do in Cumbria with kids
Kids climbing trees – Free things to do in Cumbria with kids

6. Sign up for special offers

It’s worth thinking about cashing in any loyalty points for free or low-cost things to do in Cumbria with kids. There are some fantastic email newsletters which announce special deals too. Some that have worked out for us include:

Money Saving Expert – Martin Lewis always seems to have the inside track on amazing offers!

Be Clever With Your Cash – we’ve heard about Visit Britain, English Heritage and the National Trust free tickets through its newsletter.

Cashing in loyalty points – make sure to check out if you can swap your Nectar, Tesco Clubcard or other loyalty points for admission tickets

Ask your accommodation – some holiday cottage companies and hotels include money off vouchers with local businesses. So read that welcome pack carefully!

What are your favourite free things to do in Cumbria for kids?

We’d love to know! If you’ve any photos of your budget-free days out please tag us in @cumbria_dot_com on Instagram or @cumbriadotcom on Twitter.

Disclaimer: We’ve tried to be as accurate as possible when writing this article, but information can change. Please check for yourself before making any decisions based on this blog.