Grandparents looking to spoil the little ones on a day trip will find a whole host of exciting days out in northwest England and North Wales.

Local resident DAVID ATKINSON picks some of the best options around the region.

1/ Muncaster Castle & Gardens, Ravenglass, Cumbria

Muncaster Castle

Picture credit: Muncaster Castle

A visit to this stately (and reputedly haunted) property, complete with 77 acres of activity-packed grounds, can easily fill a day. But it is popular, so aim for midweek to escape the cafe queues.

Muncaster’s trump cards for children are its indoor Meadow Vole Maze, where kids can scurry around a giant wildflower meadow (better suited to ages five and over) and its adventure playground. Grandparents, meanwhile, will enjoy a stroll in the bluebell woods while the owl and bird of prey flying display (daily in the main season) will captivate all ages.

Look out for regular family events throughout the year, such as the perennially popular Muncaster Festival in May and Halloween Week in October. The Fool of Muncaster, crowned annually at the Festival, makes an appearance for special occasions.

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Where to stay: Haven’s Lakeland is a good choice

2/ Wordsworth House & Garden, Cockermouth, Cumbria

Wordsworth House

Picture credit: Wordsworth House and Garden

Georgian Cockermouth was the birthplace of the poet William Wordsworth. The National Trust now owns the townhouse he shared with his four siblings in the 1770s – but it’s no stuffy museum.

Costumed interpreters encourage visitors to roam the rooms and interact with household members (available daily during summer holidays, and two days per week in term time). Better still, dress up in period clothes and join in the spirit of the times.

Children can follow a trail of wooden animals around the house, then head out into the gardens to explore the wild flowers and vegetable patches. Look out, too, for events for families throughout the year, such as an Easter Egg Trail, Earth Day talks and half-term workshops.

Afterwards, grandparents will be glad of a light lunch, cakes and scones at the on-site cafe before exploring Cockermouth’s independent shops.

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Where to stay: base yourself at Haven Lakeland

3/ RSPB Reserve, Conwy, North Wales

RSPB Conwy

Picture credit: Crown copyright (2014) Visit Wales

Conwy’s hidden-gem nature reserve is a great place to get back to nature. Better still, there’s always something to see whatever the season – from wild flowers in spring to migrating birds in autumn.

The reserve’s new Jubilee Nature Observatory overlooks the Conwy Valley to Snowdonia, while Y Maes (the village square) has been refurbished as a landscaped central plaza with a playground, observation deck and a cosy cafe with lots of local goodies.

Grandparents will love the new viewpoint from the Ganol Trail, looking across to Conwy Castle to spot oystercatchers and curlews on the islands in the lagoons. Young Attenboroughs, meanwhile, love the Saturday morning guided nature walks, trying to locate Goldfinches and Reed Buntings amongst the sand dunes.

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Where to stay: choose Park Resorts’ Ty Mawr

4/ Alice In Wonderland Trail, Llandudno, North Wales

Alice in Wonderland trail, Llandudno

Picture credit: Crown copyright (2014) Visit Wales

2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.

Seaside Llandudno is where Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired Carroll’s classic novel, holidayed with her family in 1861. Carroll visited them at what is now the St Tudno Hotel and wrote his story soon after.

There are carved wooden sculptures of the characters dotted around Llandudno, plus a theatrical walking trail traces an Alice trail each summer with the Mad Hatter as your guide.

The White Rabbit app, a new self-guided tour around the resort for smartphones, reveals more about the little girl behind the story, taking in the Victorian pier, promenade and Happy Valley gardens.

Round off your visit with an Alice-themed afternoon tea at the St Tudno Hotel, which offers an Alice-themed menu.

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Where to stay: Haven’s Presthaven Sands

5/ Lancaster Castle, Lancaster, Lancashire

Lancaster Castle

Picture credit: Lancaster Castle

Guided tours of Lancaster Castle, first founded in 1093 as a modest motte-and-bailey keep, offer a whistle-stop tour through history. The castle’s dark history makes it better suited to primary-school-age children.

While the Shire Hall boasts historic displays of heraldry and the eerie former cells offer a frisson of fear, it’s the leather-bound Law Library that has the most evocative feel. The Pendle Witches were brought before the court in this very room in August 1612 for one of the largest witchcraft trials in British history. History-loving grandparents will find it fascinating.

Afterwards, head to nearby Williamson Park for a brief blow-away-the-cobwebs stroll and pop into the Dukes Arts Centre for a snack in the buzzy cafe bar.

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Where to stay: take a look at Haven’s Cala Gran

6/ RSPB Leighton Moss, Lancashire

This RSPB reserve boasts the largest reedbed in Northwest England and a huge variety of visiting birdlife – great for a bird-watching grandfather keen to share his passion. Besides, if it’s good enough for the BBC’s Autumnwatch programme to film there, then little Chris Packhams should be suitably impressed.

Grab a free Wildlife Explorer backpack and check for regular family events over holiday periods. The cafe, known for its locally baked cakes, has highchairs and an area with books and colouring for little ones.

But it’s the trails and hides, including twin nature trails alongside the coastal lagoons, which get to the heart of the reedbed. Look out for Greylag geese and Merlin grazing on the saltmarsh during your walk.

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Where to stay: go for Haven’s Marton Mere


Do you have a favourite day out in the region? Share your suggestions.

David Atkinson is a Chester-based travel writer and blogger. Read more stories at; follow him on Twitter @atkinsondavid

Written by Dan at BreakFree Holidays

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