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Our Area & Hot Tub: The National Trust’s ‘ 50 things’

The National Trust has compiled a fab list of 50 outdoor things to do before you’re 11 3/4. It was even mentioned on Countryfile! Don’t worry if you have missed any of the National Trust’s specific ‘ 50 things’ weekends, you can use their website and our printable leaflet to get busy at home and on holiday. It’s really not just for kids either…

We’ve worked out how to do 33 of the 50 here in Borrowdale – so here are our top tips! You don’t even have to get in your car.

  • Climb a tree

There is a particularly good climbing tree near High Brandelhow landing stage.  Or explore Manesty Wood or the woods around Castle Crag.

  • Roll down a really big hill

Manesty Band’s slopey lawn is perfect.

  • Camp out in the wild

You can learn wild camping skills with Keswick Canoe and Bushcraft.  Their courses range from a taster day for children to an overnight wilderness canoe journey.

  • Build a den

Hide out with the red squirrels in the hazel thicket at the north of Manesty or make a den in the bracken on the fell.

  • Skim a stone

The flat slate stones around the lakeshore and river could have been designed for skimming – try Abbot’s Bay or Brandelhow or the River Derwent near Hollows Farm.

  • Run around in the rain

We’re not often short of rain in Borrowdale, and there are tumble dryers and hot baths for afterwards.

  • Fly a kite

Try Castlerigg Stone Circle for 360 degree views, open fields and a 5000 year old monument – or closer by there’s Catbells Hawse, which is almost always windy!

  • Catch a fish with a net

Minnows can be found in Ellers Beck, the stream running through the field in front of Manesty.  There are fishing nets in the laundry.

  • Eat an apple straight from a tree

Come and talk to us about the varieties growing at Manesty.

  • Play conkers

There’s a great horse chestnut by the road just past the postbox and the entrance to Manesty Woods.

  • Throw some snow

You can often find snow patches higher up the fells long after the snow in the valley has melted.

  • Balance on a fallen tree

Try Scalethorns wood just 100m up the road from Manesty, on the left.

  • Swing on a rope swing

Swing, slide, splash and climb your way around the free Wild Play Trail at Whinlatter, or adults and kids over 10, try the high ropes course ‘Go Ape’.

  • Eat blackberries growing in the wild

There are brambles in the hedgerows at Manesty.

  • Visit an island

If the lake’s not too high you can paddle to a small but perfectly formed island in Great Bay.  Or you can hire a canoe or sailboat from Lodore landing stage and sail to one of the bigger islands.

  • Find some frogspawn

Have a look in the pond in Manesty Wood: there’s a little jetty for a good view.

  • Catch a butterfly in a net

The buddleia at the top of High Seat’s Drive is very popular with butterflies when it’s flowering.  Use the fishing nets in the laundry.

  • Track wild animals

You are quite likely to spot deer around Kings How or on Ashness Fell so you can learn the difference between sheep and deer tracks.

  • Discover what’s in a pond

Try pond dipping in Manesty Wood; to find the pond follow the wall as soon as you go through the gate by the post box. Nets are in the laundry.

  • Call an owl

Our tawny owl hunts in the trees behind the cottages and might answer back.

  • Climb a huge hill

We’re spoilt for choice: how about Castle Crag, Catbells or King’s How… or even Scafell Pike?

  • Get behind a waterfall

You might have to be small to get behind them, but if you take the path from High Lodore up to Watendlath, there are good waterfalls, or you can visit the Lodore Falls (the same beck just lower down) which are in the grounds of the Lodore Falls Hotel.

  • Go on a nature walk at night

Try a loop through the woods to the lakeshore and then come back to Manesty through the fields: that way you’ll get three different habitats.

  • Go wild swimming

There is good lake swimming in Derwentwater or you can have a dip in the river at the Chinese Bridge on the way to Lodore, or further up the valley try Black Moss Pot or Sour Milk Ghyll for a jacuzzi-like experience.

  • Go rafting

Groups of 5 or more can build rafts with Plattyplus (at Lodore) and Derwentwater Marina (in Portinscale).

  • Light a fire without matches

You might need a lesson first!  Keswick Canoeing and Bushcraft can teach you and then you can try out your skills on the barbeque.

  • Find your way with a map and compass

All the cottages have large scales maps of the area, but you could also try orienteering at Whinlatter Forest Park (77A bus) where there are 5 suggested courses.

  • Try bouldering

The crags and boulders around the Bowder Stone are popular. Keswick Adventure Centre or the Keswick Climbing Wall run classes.

  • Canoe down a river

The River Derwent from Grange Bridge to Derwentwater is lovely.

  • Dam a stream

Depending on engineering ambition and the amount of rain we’ve had, you can try damming the trickle behind the cottages, Ellers Beck or even (bits of) the River Derwent at Grange Bridge.

  • Try abseiling

Keswick adventure Centre hosts some incredible abseils in Borrowdale: the most spectacular is 100 feet high at Woden’s Face near the Bowderstone

  • Go sledging

Manesty Band’s lawn and drive are great for sledging, but you’d have to be quick as the snow usually melts pretty quick.  You can always borrow a sledge if the snow takes you by surprise.

  • Feel like you’re flying in the wind

Catbells Hawse is the windiest place near Manesty and it’s also surprisingly flat.

And the other 17 things to do…

  • Make a mud pie
  • Bury someone in the sand
  • Set up a snail race
  • Take a look inside a tree
  • Make a grass trumpet
  • Hunt for treasure on the beach
  • Make a mud slide
  • Hunt for fossils and bones
  • Watch the sun wake up
  • Feed a bird from your hand
  • Hunt for bugs
  • Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool
  • Bring up a butterfly
  • Catch a crab
  • Cook on a campfire
  • Plant it, grow it, eat it
  • Find a geocache

Print the list by downloading our pdf leaflet.

Return to the Our Area & Hot Tub page, or return to the Homepage.

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Manesty Holiday Cottages, Manesty, Keswick, Cumbria CA12 5UG
Phone 017687 77216, Fax 017687 77384, Email

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