For an adventurous start to the day there is mountain biking and Go Ape at Whinlatter Forest Park. You can hire mountain bikes there or in Keswick. The trails are free to ride and without walkers. Go Ape is a network of ropewalks high up in the tree canopy ending with a thrilling zip wire descent. There are also forest walks and an excellent cafe.
For wildlife enthusiasts there may be ospreys to watch on Bassenthwaite Lake. Ospreys have nested on the shores of Bassenthwaite in recent years – they sometimes circle over Croft House as if using it as a landmark. There are observation areas in Dodd Wood and at Whinlatter Forest Park you can watch live video of the nesting ospreys. Guests often report sightings of red squirrels on the wooded lower slopes of Skiddaw behind Applethwaite – road signs in the village warn drivers to watch out for them!
Mirehouse near Bassenthwaite makes an interesting afternoon visit – the house has been occupied as a family home since 1666. Wordsworth, Tennyson, Southey, Carlyle and Constable were all friends of the family. There are gardens to enjoy and walks through the grounds down to the lake. The innovative playgrounds at Mirehouse will occupy the youngsters. You can reach the shores of Bassenthwaite by a public footpath that starts near the entrance to Mirehouse. This is a level walk that takes you past the tiny church of St Bega.
There are three of Wordsworth’s lake district homes to visit – Wordsworth House in Cockermouth and Dove Cottage at Grasmere are both National Trust properties while Rydal Mount in Rydal village is privately owned.
Cockermouth is an attractive market town and just right for gentle retail therapy. You can browse in the many little individual shops or visit Jennings Brewery. From Cockermouth you can return to Applethwaite via the Lakeland Wildlife Park near Bassenthwaite. This always makes an excellent venue for young children – lots of animals, a playground and a cafe.
For gardening enthusiasts the gardens at Dalemain House near Penrith are well known for the display of blue poppies. The rhododendrons and azaleas at Muncaster Castle are a spectacular sight in springtime. We believe the best bluebells are those in the Rannerdale valley near Crummockwater where they grow in great swathes on the open fellside. The bluebells at Muncaster come a close second followed by the bluebell wood at White Moss Common near Rydal. Whilst you are near Muncaster it is well worth taking a ride on the Ravenglass and Eskdale steam railway – perhaps cycling back down. We like to combine Muncaster with a visit either to Wastwater or to Ennerdale or to St Bees and a sight of the sea.