If you’re planning a day off from spending time outdoors, the Lake District is home to a fabulous selection of unique museums with a difference. Whether you fancy discovering the history of early motoring in the English Lake District, or enjoying belly laughs at the Laurel and Hardy Museum, check out our top five unique Lake District museums:
Laurel and Hardy Museum (Ulverston)
About half an hour’s drive from the Howbeck Guest House, this world-famous museum is entirely devoted to Laurel and Hardy. It is situated in the historic Cumbrian market town of Ulverston, the birthplace of Stan Laurel, and started off life as a private collection reflecting one man’s passion for the artists. Today the museum has grown into a fabulous collection of photos and memorabilia, along with a small cinema, and attracts both casual and die-hard Laurel and Hardy fans from all over the world.
The Pencil Museum (Keswick)
The home of the world’s first pencil, this rather niche museum is far more interesting than it might initially sound, and is only about half an hour’s drive from the Howbeck. With plenty to see and do, including unique exhibits, demonstrations, workshops and family fun days, it offers a great all-weather family attraction. Look out for the James Bond-style World War II pencil; trace the history of pencil-making; see the world’s longest colour pencil, and let the children get creative in the Kids’ Art Studio.
Lakeland Motor Museum (Backbarrow)
A little south of Lake Windermere, nestled into the pretty Leven Valley, this museum is housed in state-of-the-art riverside premises and showcases the diversity of road transport. It’s actually far more than just a motor museum, covering diverse topics ranging from the history of early motoring in the English Lake District to the Women’s Land Army, and displaying exhibits ranging from motor vehicles to scooters, bicycles, motorcycles and even pedal cars. Ideal indoor entertainment for a rainy day.
Keswick Mining Museum
Situated in Keswick — the town which witnessed the arrival of the first mining experts from Germany in 1564, and became the cradle of Cumbrian mining — this museum hosts the finest collection of mining memorabilia in the country. Covering mining and smelting techniques and offering an insight into the everyday lives of miners, the museum also holds an impressive array of minerals and fossils and visitors can get hands-on with some gold panning to find their own sparkly gems to take home.
Stott Park Bobbin Mill (Newby Bridge)
This English Heritage-owned working mill was built in 1835 to produce wooden bobbins for Lancashire’s spinning and weaving industries. Today visitors can enjoy guided tours around the mill, which stays true to its Victorian heritage – and they can watch as the bobbins are made using original machinery, glimpsing an industry from a bygone era. The mill is situated just south of Lake Windermere in Newby Bridge, about a 20-minute drive from Windermere’s Howbeck Guest House.