Although we mainly think of a day out in the Lake District as a day of fell walking or visits to dog-friendly towns like Keswick, what dogs really enjoy is the excitement of getting in the car for an adventure! As well as the myriad of walks there are some wonderful dog-friendly museums, historic houses, castles, gardens and dog-friendly lakeside cruises that guarantee a fun day out for the whole family including the dog.
We have put together some of our favourite dog-friendly attractions – including the dog-friendly pencil museum, a visit to the glorious Langholm Estate or a trip on a Windermere lakeside Cruise stopping off at various locations along the way as well as a ride on a dog-friendly steam train – all guaranteed to delight your dog!
Windermere Lake Cruise
One of our all time favourite things to do in the Lake District is a dog-friendly cruise along Lake Windermere. Explore the 10.5 miles of Windermere, Britain’s longest lake with your four-legged friend. The cruises depart from Lakeside, Ambleside, Bowness or Brockhole Pier and you can get on and off at various points along the way stopping off for a cream tea or a gentle stroll. You’ll have stunning views of mountain scenery, secluded bays and wooded islands along the way.
A visit to these glorious gardens is a must! Beatrix Potter was a frequent visitor to Lingholm and it’s not hard to see why. In fact the walled kitchen at Lingholm Estate was the original inspiration for Mr McGregor’s garden in the Tale of Peter Rabbit. There is a lovely octagonal walled garden in front of the walled garden kitchen which serves delicious home cooked meals, many ingredients being sourced from the Estate. It has a gorgeous setting on Derwent Water, a 40 minute walk from the dog-friendly town of Keswick and is close to Catbells.
Get on board the dog-friendly Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam train with your best furry friend! Jump on board this steam locomotive at Haverthwaite Station as it makes its way along three and a half miles of train track with fabulous views of Windermere along the way. You may want to get a combined ticket for the Windermere Lake Cruises and the Steam train can both be accessed at Lakeside. Dogs travel free of charge.
Another treasure waiting to be discovered is dog-friendly Lowther Castle, near Penrith. Built in the 19c is a spectacular ruin within 130 acres of gorgeous gardens and woodlands. The Gardens were first formerly laid out in the 17c and relics of a Roman bath and stone columns remain. More recently the gardens were rescued by garden designer Dan Pearson and now include a courtyard with sculptural shapes, rose gardens, summerhouses, meadows and woodlands. Not to be missed!
A perfect place for an adventure with your dog! Situated between Windermere and Coniston, dog-friendly Grizedale Forest has 8,000 acres of woodland with numerous walking trails to explore including woodland walks with ancient beech trees and 80 sculptures dotted around the forests as well as gorgeous views of lakes and mountains along the way. One of the best walks is to Carron Crag, one of England’s most amazing viewpoints. Hire a bike and pick up a guide to the sculptures you will see.
Located in Keswick, the dog-friendly Derwent Pencil Museum is the home of the first pencil, visitors enter this museum through a replica graphite mine which would have served as the source of the pencil industry over three centuries ago. A journey of graphite and pencil discovery from its humble beginnings as a cottage industry to modern day production. Discover the secret WW2 pencils with hidden maps; the Guinness World Record for the largest colour pencil measuring almost 8 metres; The Queen’s diamond Jubilee pencil and miniature pencil sculptures. A fascinating place and great for a rainy day visit, combine with a visit around Keswick’s dog-friendly shops and tea rooms.
Ullswater’s ‘Steamers’ have been in service on the lake since 1859 and take in what is arguably some of the Lake District’s most dramatic scenery. With interesting piers to explore – including one at Aira Force waterfall – and plenty of options for linear and circular walks, you and your pet can easily spend the full day amongst the beautiful scenery of Ullswater. Dogs are welcome on board for a small charge. Hop onto a cruise from one of our dog-friendly cottages in the North East Lake District.
If you enjoyed the Windermere cruise you might like to explore the Lakes via the Keswick Launch experiencing the beauty of Derwentwater. With wonderful views of the surrounding fells, take the 50-minute cruise or disembark at one of the jetties along the way. Also enjoy a walk to famous landmarks such as Lodore Falls, Ashness Bridge, Borrowdale and Lingholm. Enjoy fabulous views of Skiddaw, Catbells and the Jaws of Borrowdale.
Another dog-friendly attraction is Muncaster Castle in Ravenglass on Cumbria’s west coast. It is a National Heritage property, Grade I listed building with fabulous gardens and features spectacular views of the River Esk. Although not allowed into the castle or Hawk & Owl Centre, dogs are welcome in the glorious gardens which is a doggy paradise! There are miles of paths which wind their way through 70 acres of wild wooded gardens – full of exciting sights and smells to be explored. Enjoy a Cumbrian breakfast or afternoon tea at the Stables Cafe.
A beautiful Lakeside Arts & Crafts villa set in extensive grounds on the shores of Lake Windermere. Brockhole House and Garden has spectacular views of Windermere, Langdale Pikes and Harrison Pickle. Formerly owned by Beatrix Potter’s cousin, it was designed as a holiday home for the family because of its gorgeous location. Your dog is welcome to explore the amazing gardens and cafe terrace. Brockhole is one of the places where you can stop off on the dog-friendly Windermere cruise.