Lake District Visitor Centre

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The national park’s main visitor centre and HQ occupies a fabulous lakeside mansion on Windermere, halfway between Bowness and Ambleside. It’s the best first stop for finding out about the Lakes, with exhibitions on everything from the local dialect to the landscape, and they run a full programme of walks, talks, family activities and events throughout the year, whether it’s dry-stone-wall-building courses or Christmas ice-skating. The gardens are pretty fab too, and kids love the big adventure playground. There’s also a high-ropes adventure course known as the 'Treetop Trek', plus rowing boats, kayaks and Canadian canoes for rent down on the lake. You can drive here and park all day, but the nicest way to arrive is by boat with Windermere Lake Cruises – there are regular services every day from Bowness and Waterhead (Ambleside). Bikes are also available for rent down by the lakeside, so you can explore the grounds and the surroundings without getting back in your car until you leave.

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