A Guide To A Great Outdoor Adventure Holiday

If you love the lakes at Dorset Adventure Park then try a trip to the Lake District. Discover our guide to a great holiday in the lakes with your friends, family, babies and even a dog.

This Easter, a group of us decided to have an outdoor adventure of our own and booked a holiday in the Lake District. This group was made up of six adult friends; also including a family, their young toddler and their dog. Just to add more into the mix, two of us were gluten-free and one also dairy free. Most of the group were extremely fit and active – two participated in the annual Mountain Marathon Lake District event- I’m distinctly average in my fitness and the toddler was still trying to negotiate how to walk in shoes. 

It can sometimes be tricky or contentious to mix people together on a holiday – it can make or break a friendship, test the longest held bonds, a romantic relationship and even become exhausting when just with your own family. Everyone has different opinions on what to do, how to do it and when. With an infant and an animal in the equation, they then become a priority to factor in. What do they each need, when and how are we going to accommodate and manage it? With a bunch of varied interests, needs and lifespans, I was curious to see how it would all come together. I had never holidayed with them before, but I did know that they had visited and loved Dorset Adventure Park. They loved swimming in the lakes, racing across the inflatable obstacle course and battling through the mud trail. As a friendship group and as a young family, we all shared a love of an outdoor adventure. Discover how we created our own adventure holiday that fitted in tourist attractions, hiking, swimming in lakes, a birthday party and a baby!

How We Planned Our Walks

We picked our walks by following recommendations on the Kamoot App, WalkLakes website and […] magazine. The Komoot App is free and allows you to either follow a pre established route by other fellow adventurers or forge and recommend your own routes. Komoot describes itself as providing, “ready-built routes that reveal all of nature’s best-kept secrets, to superior route planning and navigation tech that lets you decide what you want to discover, Komoot makes it easy to explore more of the great outdoors—wherever and however you want.” This reputable app allows great accessibility to the outdoors. 

Walk Lakes’ was more of a hidden treasure. The aim of Walk Lakes, “is to help you make the most of walking in the Lake District. We do that by searching out the best walks we can find from gentle to challenging and also by putting you in touch with other people who have walked in the Lake District via our forum.” As the most amateur hiker in the group (over the age of 18 months), I found this site really useful as it reads like a very clear guide book that offers clear and detailed insight and useful information. 

Trail Magazine describes itself as ‘the ultimate walking companion’ and is available as a print edition subscription for £4.50 a month or as a digital subscription for £3.99 a month. Trail magazine is a great subscription for outdoor adventure lovers who are interested in climbing, hiking, camping under the stars and discovering gear reviews from the expert explorers.

Where We Stayed

We found a house that could accommodate us just outside Ambleside. We wanted to still be able to easily access all the things to do on an adventurous day out, without always needing to drive. The house was within walking distance to the town, and it was on a bus route. However, some previous reviews had remarked that the oven didn’t work well, and the kitchen wasn’t ‘very well-equipped’. In hindsight, I would have followed up with the owners to get an update on the oven and kitchen. Having an ineffectual oven and pot or saucepan big enough to cater for the number of guests the house accommodates, is one of those really annoying and frustrating things. It meant we couldn’t easily cook as a group or a family. I had packed a sieve and cake tin in order to bake a birthday cake for one of the group, but didn’t expect the need to pack a saucepan too. In future, I recommend asking follow-up questions to Airbnb hosts about their most recent reviews. 

Where We Walked

We did three main days of hiking and a few more relaxed days exploring towns. 

Our first walk was Wansfell Pike, Troutbeck and finished walking through Skelghyll Wood. We began this walk from our front door, as it starts in Ambleside before passing the Stockghyll Force waterfalls and building into a steep walk-up Wansfell Pike. From there you have beautiful and vast views across the lakes, farmlands, pikes and especially of Lake Windermere. It is very gentle and pleasant walking through beautiful countryside, once that first pike is reached. Find this walk on the WalkLakes link here.

The second walk was a circular walk taking in the ridge of Ullock Pike, Longside Edge and the surprisingly rounded Carl Side. This was a walk with spectacular views and was a very quiet walk considering we were there during a school holiday. This was a fantastic walk however, there was a short section of scrambling to get to the summit and a very steep walk back downhill, with some path erosion. We just took our time and had a great day out. You can find this route on the WalkLakes link here.

The third walk was along Loughrigg Fell and also started from Ambleside. This was a much more popular walk on a sunny day during the Easter holidays. It is a walk that takes you through countryside, offers spectacular vantage point views overlooking Windermere and then Rydal and Grassmere.  The route also takes you past the Rydal cave, “a large cavern on the north side of Loughrigg Fell, above Rydal Water. This famous lakeland beauty spot is actually man-made, as a result of slate quarrying.” This walk also offers a great swimming spot in the Rydal lake. This route is available to follow here.

What Were The Gluten-Free Options? 

There were very few gluten-free options in the areas we were in. We visited two supermarkets which did have gluten-free supplies but no gluten-free beer. Not many cafes we came across had a gluten-free option. We did discover two pubs did offer gluten-free options. The Ambleside Tap Yard had multiple options on Tap and the Mortal Man, a traditional pub with great views also offered Gluten Free pale ale on tap. 

How Did A Hiking Holiday Work With A Toddler?

To hike with a very young human requires a lot more fitness because they are carried for most of the hike. The right carrier for the job is essential. We marked points on the route where we knew we could let the toddler out to safely toddle before being popped back in his carrier. The best one available is the Osprey Poco Child Carrier Backpack. It is eye-wateringly expensive at £350. However, they are often available second hand on eBay and Facebook marketplace. The backpacks are able to stand on the ground, have the correct weighted balance for your back, offer the support needed, safely and comfortably strap the baby in and also provide a sun shield. The backpack was also manageable enough that it could be passed between the group who took turns wearing it.

Thirlmere, Keswick

With Dorset Adventure Park opening again on the 20th of May, you don’t have to visit the Lake District National park in Cumbria to have an outdoor adventure of your own. Whether you are a group of friends or seeking family days out in Dorset over the half-term and summer holiday, discover why this waterpark is a top Dorset attraction. With two lakes for swimming and bouncing across the Wibit inflatables on the Aqua Adventure and a 2km assault course mud trail with over 50 obstacles, Dorset Adventure Park is a perfect outdoor adventure and activity for your next holiday.

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