Haverthwaite and Backbarrow are two small Lake District villages sitting on the River Leven, which flows out of the southern tip of Windermere down to the sea at Morecambe Bay. Surrounded by spectacular South Lakes scenery and close to all the wonderful attractions and things to do of this popular area, you have plenty of options, whether you’re after a peaceful retreat or an energetic holiday. Read our guide and then find your perfect holiday cottage in Backbarrow or Haverthwaite!
Backbarrow & Haverthwaite
The Lakeland Motor Museum
Housing an amazing collection of vintage vehicles in Backbarrow, this is a must-see museum for any petrol head! From cars to motorbikes, flying machines to pedal cars, and bicycles to caravans, you’ll be fascinated with the display! The Campbell Bluebird exhibition pays homage to world speed record holder Donald Campbell who sadly lost his life on nearby Coniston Water. You can see replicas of his famous Bluebird Boat, as well as the less famous but equally impressive car and jet hydroplane!
Cliffhanger Escape Rooms
For a rainy day in the Lakes, you can keep children, teenagers and adults alike entertained with a fun and challenging escape room game. With a group of up to 6, you have an hour to solve puzzles, find hidden objects, and solve the mystery to escape in time! Otherwise you could be taken by vampires, get locked in a bank room, or be forced to walk the plank by dastardly pirates!
Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway
You can travel to Lake Windermere in style on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway steam trains! You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back to a bygone era as you pull our of Haverthwaite station and travel north alongside the southwest shore of Windermere to Lakeside Pier. Step back into the modern day here and set out on a walk, visit the aquarium, or continue your journey by boat! A selection of combined tickets with many of the attractions around the lake mean you can easily spend a day exploring both the water and shores of Windermere.
Under the Sea
The Lakes Aquarium at Lakeside offers a glimpse into the underwater world of the Lake District. As well as a fascinating selection of creatures – both water and land – that can be found locally, there are more exotic critters too. You can expect to see anything from adorable harvest mice and otters to sharp-toothed piranhas and pike. You can even take a dry dive below Lake Windermere and discover the life that lies beneath the beautiful waters!
Windermere is England’s longest lake and is rightly popular thanks to its many attractions and stunning surrounding scenery. You can take walks up and down the shores and in the surrounding fells, discover quirky historical edifices such as Wray Castle, or have a jam-packed day of fun with the kids at Brockhole Visitor Centre. The towns of Bowness and Ambleside are simply lovely and include lots of shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants to while away a relaxing hour or two!
Bigland Hall offers a number of rides and lessons for all levels of riders. Beginners, both adults and children, can be introduced to horse riding while those who have some experience can pick from a range of fell treks or a 1-hour woodland hack. There are also opportunities for advanced rider and classical dressage lessons!
Take a Walk on the Wild Side
If you prefer your animals with talons and sharp teeth, then the Predator Experience in Ayside will be right up your street! Get up close and personal with a range of predators including eagles and wolves. Day courses in falconry are on offer from experienced tutors, while the ‘walking with wolves’ experience allows you to join the wolf hybrid pack with Maska and Kajika. It’s a truly spectacular day that you’ll never forget!
Cartmel, though small in size, has a lot to offer. Perhaps most famous for its sticky toffee pudding, made fresh in the village shop, this pretty village isn’t just about the sweet treats! It also has two Michelin starred restaurants, a popular race course that hosts fun family-friendly events, the impressive and historic Cartmel priory, and lots of independent shops. You can get around on your own two legs, two wheels, or do something a bit more unusual by zipping about with Lakeland Segway, or tour the streets in a horse and carriage with the Friesian Experience.
Between Backbarrow and Haverthwaite you will find remnants of Backbarrow Ironworks. The impressive furnace stack takes centre stage, with other remnants of the works surrounding it, including a waterwheel pit and the old ovens. Though on the Heritage at Risk list for many years due to neglect, it was repaired in 2019 and is now a great stopping-off point if you’re interested in industrial history. Historic England describes the remains as “the best illustration nationally of iron-smelting technology development from the 18th to the 20th century”, so it’s well worth a visit!
Outdoor Adventure Activities
For those seeking an edge-of-your-seat, adrenaline fuelled adventure in the Lake District, then how about flinging yourself out of a plane? Skydive Northwest in Flookburgh offers incredible skydiving opportunities high above the spectacular countryside of the Lake District and Morecambe Bay. For something a bit more-down-to-earth, head to Graythwaite Estate for a whole range of adventures that include clay pigeon shooting, axe throwing and 4x4 off-roading with CBA Events. Or Path to Adventure can take you out exploring with adventures that include bushcraft, ghyll scrambling and rock climbing.
A Wartime Relic
From Backbarrow or Haverthwaite you can head right into the hills for a number of enjoyable walks. If you’re a bit of a history buff, a walk up Bigland Barrow between the villages will fascinate. One of Wainwright’s ‘outlying fells of of Lakeland’, it has a concrete outlook tower on the summit that the famous author describes as a wartime relic. There are a few shorter walks directly up and down the hill, some passing a trout fishery, or you can include it in a longer hike through Bigland Woods, along part of the river, and past Bigland Tarn. It’s a lovely route that offers gorgeous views of the Coniston fells, Haverthwaite railway station, and more.
Holker Hall and Gardens
The stately Holker Hall boasts gorgeous rooms, though the real draw has to be the stunning gardens. Covering 23 acres, they include formal gardens, informal meadows, and even a Labyrinth! As well as house tours, there are a number of exciting events over the year including a spring fair, winter markets, and a popular summer theatre weekend.
A Day at the Seaside
During your stay here, you’re conveniently located for both the Lake District and the seaside. At Morecambe Bay you can enjoy a wonderful day on the beach, looking out over the glistening water, taking walks along the promenades, or even spotting wildlife at Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty! The bay is dotted with coastal villages and small towns that offer lots of seaside delights. At certain times of year you can even walk right across the sands of the bay, led by an experienced Queen’s Guide.
The bustling market town of Ulverston is known as the Party Capital of Furness thanks its year-round programme of exciting events. The annual Dickensian Festival gives you the chance to dress up as your favourite Victorian character and enjoy vintage entertainment, while the Festival of Light sees the streets shine with themed paper lanterns of all shapes and sizes! The town also offers plenty of options for the casual visitor too. Why not admire the view from the 100ft Hoad Monument that sits on a hill above the town? The Laurel & Hardy museum commemorates the comic duo, the first of which was born in the town, and Conishead Priory is a Buddhist temple that hosts public meditation events and the opportunity to walk around the tranquil grounds.
Between the lakes of Coniston and Windermere is the 24km of Grizedale Forest. With all that space, you can be sure that there’s plenty on offer! Forest trails lead you past fascinating art installations between the trees, or you can whizz by on two wheels on one of their mountain biking tracks. To get right in the canopy, there are Go Ape! high ropes courses (discounts available for guests of Sally’s Cottages) and zip wire adventures. When you’re all funned out, enjoy a relaxing meal in one of the many picnic areas or have a bite to eat at the café.