Due to its location near the north-west coast of the UK, the Lake District is certainly subject to rapidly changing weather conditions. There is a high likelihood of seeing some rain while you are there. Fortunately, there are a huge amount of things to do in the rain in the Lake District. You certainly won’t be sitting in your hotel (or tent) getting bored.
We have rounded up some of the best wet-weather attractions in the Lake District.
Derwent Pencil Museum, Keswick
It probably wasn’t long since you last used a pencil (for me it was just today on a visit to the local Ikea store), but also likely not something you, like me, really give a lot of thought to.
The Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick is the home of the first pencil. Starting in a replica graphite mine, take a journey through time from the start of the pencil industry in the sixteenth century, through to modern-day manufacturing. The museum is small, but you will be fascinated by the interesting facts and local history.
The Artisan Café at the museum is well worth a visit too if you have time. You will find a selection of sandwiches (hot and cold) and jacket potatoes, perfect to warm you up before you head back outside.
Keswick Museum & Art Gallery
The Keswick Museum is a great place to visit when it is raining. With its roots laid almost 150 years ago in 1873, the museum was transformed by a complete renovation and extension, re-opening in 2014. Today the museum has amassed around 20,000 objects, related to:
- Landscape & natural history
- The lives of local people – domestic and community
- Social and industrial history
- Local art, artists & writers, crafts & craftspeople
The museum has space only to show a small percentage of the total collection at any one time, so if you have visited in the past, then you are also likely to see something new even on another visit.
Café West offers a selection of soups, sandwiches & wraps, pizzas, and burgers as well as spectacular views of the nearby hills.
Lakeland Motor Museum, Backbarrow
Fans of vintage cars and motorcycles should head for the Lakeland Motor Museum on a rainy day. The museum’s collection also includes historic caravans, pedal cars, and bicycles. At the Campbell Bluebird Exhibition, a tribute to the lives and racing careers of Sir Malcolm and Donald Campbell, you will see full-sized replicas of the 1935 Blue Bird car, 1939 Blue Bird Boat K4 and 1967 jet hydroplane Bluebird K7.
Free parking is offered and travelling by bus is also easy, using the 6 / X6 Service that links Barrow, Kendal, Windermere, Ulverston and Grange.
Another great option is to take the Yellow Cruise and Motor Museum combined ticket from Windermere Lake Cruises, which includes entry to the museum in the price.
The Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry, Kendall
Our next idea for things to do in the rain in the Lake District has to be a visit Museum of Lakeland Life and Industry with the family is excellent value, as kids up to the age of 16 go free. The museum is located next to the Abbot Hall Art Gallery in Kendall.
Once inside out of the rain, you can really immerse yourself and feel like you have stepped back into a time gone by. From the farmer’s kitchen to the Victorian high street, where you can relive the toys, food, and even medicines of the past at the chemist shop, these very accurate recreations are just waiting to be explored.
Additionally worth bearing in mind is that breakfast is served in The Bakestone Café at Abbot Hall, from 10 am to 11:30 am after which a delicious selection of Sandwiches, Jackets and Main Courses is available for lunch.
The Lakes Distillery, Bassenthwaite
The Lakes Distillery was founded by Paul Currie, who also founded the world famous Arran Distillery on the Isle of Arran. It produces a range of single malts right in the heart of the Lake District National Park.
Several different tours are available at The Lakes Distillery, depending on what exactly you are looking for.
The Distillery Tour
The basic distillery tour will take you one hour and includes a tour of the distillery itself. Included in the price is tasting of three of the distillery’s spirits. Further tastings can be savoured at home by making use of a £5 voucher at the distillery shop, or by joining the ‘Tour & Extra Tastings’ which adds another 30 minutes and five additional tastings to the experience.
The Lakes Malt Tour (Over 18s only)
As well as a tour of the working distillery, on this two-hour tour, you will have time to taste various different malts, including various limited expressions of The ONE, each highlighting the influences of various casks used for Whisky maturation.
Meet the Alpacas
This may not necessarily be the best of our ideas for a wet day in the Lake District, but since it is an ideal attraction for family members less interested in the distillery itself we will include it anyway. The Meet the Alpacas tour gives you the chance to meet the herd of Alpacas, hand feed them and have your photo taken with them.
Note: Wellington boots highly recommended!
Further details and booking options for all of the tours can be found here.
Also, why not indulge yourself a little longer and reserve a table at the Bistro at the Distillery.
The Ruskin Museum, Coniston
The Ruskin Museum tells the story of Coniston and Coniston Water. Starting in the Stone Age, when the fell-walkers traded man-made stone axes right up to the time of Donald Campbell’s water speed records leading to his tragic and untimely death in 1967 at the age of just 45.
You will be amazed to learn so much about the local way of life because the museum has collections related to several local industries such as copper and slate mining, lace making and farming.
In addition, collections about three individuals who have impacted the area’s history. John Ruskin, after who the museum is named. Arthur Ransome, author of the renowned Swallows and Amazons series.
Lastly, Donald Campbell, whose hyrdoplane the Bluebird K7, salvaged and later donated to the museum in 20016, will go on display in the Bluebird Wing sometime in 2019 once the restoration is completed.
There is a lovely gift shop at the museum which is well worth a visit.
The Ruskin Museum is just out of the centre of Coniston on the A593 heading north towards Ambleside.
Ideal for Kids of all Ages
The Puzzling Place, Keswick
Right in the centre of Keswick is The Puzzling Place. Visiting its shop and puzzle area are completely free of charge. At the back, you will find the ‘World of Illusion’, for which there is a moderate charge. This takes optical illusion one step beyond and is absolutely worth paying the small fee to go inside. See here for more information.
Wall Climbing in the Lake District
Why not visit one of the three climbing walls in the Lake District, the Ambleside, Kendal or Keswick Climbing Walls. For energetic kids, this has to be one of the best things to do in the rain in the Lake District. They’ll certainly sleep well!
Lakeland Wildlife Oasis, Milnthorpe
Even when it is wet, the Lakeland Wildlife Oasis is worth a visit. Visits to the tropical hall and butterfly house are two great things to do in the rain. Milnthorpe is right on the edge of the Lake District.
More information can be discovered here
Even though it means you will have to venture outside and get wet, rainy days can be the best days to see waterfalls at their most impressive. If it is just a passing shower, therefore put on your waterproofs and pack a flask of hot tea. Please do check the weather forecast and make sure it isn’t going to be more than a shower, because most important of all – stay safe.
Stock Ghyll Force, Ambleside
The waterfall at Stock Ghyll Force is just a short walk from the centre of Ambleside. This waterfall has a spectacular drop of 70 meters, forming a tributary of the River Rothay. Allow about 20 minutes for the walk up to the falls and wear sturdy shoes.
Get underground and get out of the rain! Either take a bus from Keswick or drive around the Honister Pass and stop off for a while at the Honister Slate Mine. Their mine tours go deep underground so you will be out of the rain. Tours generally run three times every day and you can reserve your place online.
Alternatively, the Nenthead Mines near Alston make for a real underground adventure. You should check their website first, however, because they are not open every day. It is highly advisable to either book in advance or phone ahead to make sure that space is available, therefore avoiding disappointment.
Please remember to wear warm clothing and sensible shoes.
So you see, there really are a load of things to do in the rain in the Lake District. Whether young or old, we hope you found something here to whet your appetite.
If you have other suggestions for great things to do or places to go in the rain, just leave us a comment and we’ll add them to the list.
Picture Credits for “Things to do in the rain in the Lake District”
- Derwent Pencil Musuem: “The Pencil Museum” by Smabs Sputzer (1956-2017) licensed under CC BY 2.0
- Lakeland Motor Museum: “Auto Cavalcade at the Lakeland Motor Museum” by Lynn Rainard licensed under CC BY 2.0
- The Museum of Lakeland Life & Industry: “MOLLI Chemist Shop” courtesy of Lakeland Arts Press Room.
- The Lakeland Distillery: “Drink Alcohol Cup” by jarmoluk/Pixabay licenced under CC0
- Stock Ghyll Force:© Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under CC BY-SA 2.0