A rainy day in the Lake District called for a visit to Lakeland Motor Museum. Here’s what we thought of our visit, and all you need to know if you’re thinking of visiting too.
About Lakeland Motor Museum
Lakeland Motor museum opened on it’s current site in 2010, and over that time we’ve visited quite a few times. The website claims there are over 30,000 exhibits, and when you’re in there it definitely feels like that! There is so much to look at it’s hard to know where to look at times.
The entire museum is based around the development of the motor industry, so it includes cars, motorbikes, bicycles, period shops, industries and toys. Be prepared to take it all in!
The exhibits stay pretty much the same, but the car collection is updated with new cars every so often. We visit maybe every couple of years and we try to spot any new cars. There might also be new things on the walls and hanging from the ceiling but there is just so much we’d have no way of figuring that out!
There is also a separate exhibition dedicated to Donald Campbell, the British land and water speed racer who famously lost his life on Coniston water, nearby.
You’ll find the museum just off the A590, between Newby Bridge and Haverthwaite. Follow the signs from the main road. Parking is free.
The Museum opens at 9:30am every day. We arrived at 9:45 and there were only 2 other cars in the car park. This was great news! We love a quiet museum.
The car park is across a road from the museum, so once we’d made it safely across, we entered and paid (see below for prices). You enter (and exit) through the gift shop which is definitely something to prepare for with children, I struggle to get mine out of there to actually start the museum tour sometimes.
Once you’ve navigated that roadblock, the museum takes you around a one way system around the building. The building isn’t massive, but it’s literally crammed full of exhibits and memorabilia so there is no wasted space.
The cars are brilliant, and they’re the main attraction for us as a family. We saw everything from the very first cars, to bubble cars, retro sports cars, the DeLorean, and everything in between.
One thing to note is that it’s a very hands off museum, and there are a few ‘please don’t touch’ signs dotted around. My kids (ages 11, 9 and 6) are ok with this now, but a few years ago they would automatically try to put their hands on EVERYTHING which made it interesting.
The museum is over 2 levels, with the trail around the exhibits taking you upstairs half way round. There is life access if you need it, and everywhere in the museum is pushchair/wheelchair friendly.
The Museum Collections
As you walk around, the route takes you past loose collections of artefacts and memorabilia. We passed through a couple of bicycle sections – one displaying the first bikes and one displaying more recent (but still fairly retro) bikes. My husband was super excited to see his favourite childhood bike on display!
We also passed a motorbike and moped section, and a toy car section which my kids were very interested in. This came after a vintage arcade games section, where you can play old wooden arcade games. So much fun!
Top tip: bring lots of 20p pieces, or £1 coins that can be changed. All of the machines are available for use but they all take a coin.
My 6 year old is probably the least interested in the cars out of all of us, but this time she surprised me with how much she enjoyed the recreated retro shop windows, and all the information about life and jobs during the war years. The images and displays really captured her attentions which I was pleasantly surprised by.
The museum route takes you back downstairs, through some more motorbikes and then out via some more fabulous cars. Here you’ll see the DeLorean cosying up next to a Sinclair C5 – this really is quite an eclectic museum!
The main part of the museum then leads you out through the gift shop again. Although gift shops can be tricky with children, this one does have some lovely vehicle toys and keepsakes so it is definitely worth a look if you have the budget for it.
Donald Campbell Exhibition
Across the courtyard at the motor museum is the stand-alone Donald Campbell Exhibition. This tells the story of Donald Campbell, and all his land and water speed records over the years. Several replicas of his vehicles are on display there, including a Bluebird car, a Bluebird boat, and a bluebird hydrofoil.
A film on a small screen running on a loop shows interviews with Donald Campbell, as well as some of his successful record setting attempts. It also shows the fateful record breaking attempt where he lost his life on Coniston water. My kids haven’t taken much notice of that until this visit, where they watched with morbid fascination!
Café Ambio at Lakeland Motor Museum
Also across the courtyard, directly across from the entrance is Cafe Ambio. This is a lovely café with plenty of seating, and it is perfect for a bite to eat alongside your visit.
The menu is packed full of food made with locally sourced ingredients, and I can personally highly recommend the cakes, I’ve been working my way through the selection every time we go.
Lakeland Motor Museum Prices
Children under 5: FREE
Children 5-15: £6.60
Family (2Adults +3Children): £30
Local Residents Discount
If you have an LA or CA postcode, you can get 50% off the ticket price from 1st Oct-1st May, and 20% at all other times with a locals discount card.
The card can be issued at the museum if you take a utility bill or other ID with your address on, so you can get it on the day of your visit.
If you’re more organised than me, you can get your card in advance online here, then bring it when you purchase your tickets.
If you’re using the discount card you’ll still have to buy the tickets in person, as it’s not set up for buying tickets online.
It’s definitely worth the effort though, it means our family of 5 go for £15 rather than £30 out of season which is a bargain!
Overall, we would definitely recommend a visit to Lakeland Motor museum. It took us 75 minutes to get round, and it can last much longer if you’ve never been before. Definitely one to try for any car or other vehicle fans, or if you just want to while away a couple of hours. Enjoy!
If you’re looking for more ideas for things to do in the Lake District, why not try the following posts: