Day one of our Lake District adventure and our trip on Windermere Lake Cruises took us to Lakeside where we disembarked and had a little visit to Lakes Aquarium, which is right next door to Lakeside harbour, and is brilliant for a more inclement day, which true to form, it was!
The aquarium isn’t that big, probably being around the same size as one of the smaller Sea Life centres, but there is plenty to see and keep little ones entertained for an hour or two. Your tickets are valid all day so you can come and go as you please.
There are exhibits of fish, particularly those native to the local area, and also wild fowl, otters, snakes, tortoises, and a very good colony of leaf-cutter ants.
The first few exhibits focussed on local water life, and the exhibit space was designed to look like the natural environment of the Lake District.
There are lots of fish and water life to learn about at Lakes Aquarium, including many types of fish, ducks, and even starfish and anenomes. There is the requisite underwater tunnel, and a touch pool. The pregnant (presumably male) seahorses were something we’d never seen before, and they were fascinating.
There were other animals to look at too, such as otters, tortoises, and tamarin monkeys. There was a snake being fed with a dead rat when we got to the snake tank, but it wasn’t very interested. The keepers will try again in a day or two.
One of the most popular exhibits was the leaf-cutter ants. The display was left open so you could get really close to them walking up and down the ropes bringing their leaves back to the nest. They were everywhere, even managing to get out of their not-very effective confines, trying their luck with the plants around other parts of the aquarium. I don’t think we managed to acquire any stowaways though, which was a relief!
There were a few things you could interact with, like the screens where you could learn about the life of a crocodile or a shark, and even though the younger children especially did not understand what was going on, they did enjoy pressing the buttons. There was also a not very big craft table (colouring-in mainly), but there was a brilliant dressing up chest, and it would have been rude not to, no?
My children’s favourite part? The self-service photo booth, where you took a pic of yourself against a green screen and placed your order at the gift shop on the way out. Naturally!
The visit took an hour, and then we went round again to do our favourite parts while we were waiting for our Windermere Lake Cruise boat to dock. It’s not the biggest attraction in the world, but a perfect place to visit combined with a lake cruise or steam railway ride. It’s friendly, and pretty good value for something that takes 1 – 2 hours.
Disclosure – we were guests of Lakes Aquarium and Windermere Lake Cruises for the purposes of this review. All opinion is our own