Five of Our Favourite Lake District Museums
30 October 2022

The clocks have gone back which means the nights are drawing in and the days are getting colder. Maybe it's time to swap the fells and lakes for some rainy day natives? Why not visit one of the region's many museums, a chance to step back in time and delve into the Lake District's rich history? And if you need a little inspiration, here are five of our favourites. 

Windermere Jetty Museum

For guests staying in one of our Windermere Cottages, Windermere Jetty Museum is a must. It's located right on the shores of Lake Windermere and boasts a stunning collection of boats and sailing vessels, including steam launches, record-breaking speed boats and motorboats. Vessels include Swallow and Amazon, circa 1950, the boat used in the BBC film adaptation of Arthur Ransome's famous book; Beatrix Potter's tarn boat, circa 1890; and SL Dolly (circa 1850), the oldest mechanically powered boat in the world (still in running order).

Not only does the museum give you a fascinating insight into the history of sailing on Windermere (reaching as far back as the eighteenth century), but you will also have an opportunity to see some of the ongoing restoration projects.

Lakeland Motor Museum

Sticking to the transport theme, the Lakeland Motor Museum is home to over 30,000 exhibits ranging from vintage fire engines to collectible toys. A visit to this museum is a joy for any motor enthusiast.

The museum is located in a converted mill in the village of Backbarrow, just under thirty minutes from Windermere (and about an hour from our Ullswater Cottages). Among the 30,000 or so exhibits are around 140 classic cars and motorbikes, as well as a host of other 'automobilia'. Take a trip down memory lane as you wander through over 100 years of automotive history, as well as some local history, authentic recreations and period shopping displays.

You will also get to see the exhibition dedicated to the work of Sir Malcolm Campbell and his son Donald, who between them set twenty-one land a water speed records. The exhibition includes a timeline of their achievements, as well as full size replicas of the 1935 Bluebird car, the 1939 Bluebird boat and the 1967 jet hylane, Bluebird K7. 

Derwent Pencil Museum

Yes, there really is a museum to celebrate the humble pencil. The museum is about half an hour by car from our Ullswater Cottages and we can assure you that it's a great day out for the whole family.

On your visit, which begins by entering through a replica graphite mine, you'll learn that Keswick was the home of the first pencil and that graphite, used to make the famous Derwent pencils, was first discovered in Borrowdale where farmers used it to mark their sheep.

Having left the 'mine', you'll discover the origins of the Derwent Pencil company which began life as a small cottage production, as well as some amazing historical facts. For instance, the secret pencils which were used during WW2 that contain hidden maps; the Queen's special Diamond Jubilee Pencil; and miniature pencil sculptures.

Finish your trip with a picture of yourself alongside the museum's showstopper - a giant 8m tall pencil.

Dove Cottage and Wordsworth Museum

''I wandered lonely as a cloud, that floats on high o'er vales and hills, when all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils''.

Arguably the most famous lyrical words penned by William Wordsworth, they were written in 1804 when the poet was living at Dove Cottage with his sister Dorothy.

Situated on the edge of the village of Grasmere, Dove Cottage was the home of the famous Romantic poet William Wordsworth and his wife Mary and his sister Dorothy. 

Nowadays the cottage is run by the Wordsworth Trust and gives you a chance to experience the sights, sounds and smells of Dove Cottage. Attached to the cottage is the Wordsworth Museum where moments taken from his poems and his sister's Grasmere journal tell the story of their life here. 

Barrow Dock Museum

Our final stop is a little further afield - the Barrow Dock Museum. Built in an historic 19th century dock, it's home to an array of objects charting the social and industrial history of the Furness area.

Learn about how Barrow began life as a small farming village before transforming itself into a bustling industrial centre within just a few decades.

Since then, this little-explored town has been at the cutting edge of maritime technology, the building place of submarines, warships and beautiful liners.

The Barrow Dock Museum gives you a chance to find out more about the fascinating heritage of the area, as well as Barrow's long history building vessels. 

There are so many wonderful museums in the Lake District and Cumbria, so narrowing it down to a list of just five was a challenge. But rest assured, wherever you find yourself in the area, from Whitehaven to Windermere, Carlisle to Keswick, you'll find something that will pique your interest.

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