A Day Out In Lakeland Miniature Village
Small things fascinate the little ones, but it’s not only children who love miniature things. From miniature animals like ponies to creatures from fantasy worlds like Tolkien’s hobbits living in lush villages and underground hillside homes, small things hold endless joy and allure for young and old.
No small wonder then that the Lakeland Miniature Village in Cumbria is still one of the main tourist attractions in the North of England since it opened its doors to the public in 2001. Owned by husband and wife team Edward and Kathleen Robinson, the village attracts more than 6,000 visitors a year and is situated in Flookburgh, an ancient village on the Cartmel peninsula.
It’s a living project, lovingly crafted over some 26 years by Edward (71), a qualified builder, with occasional help from his son, Michael. The village contains over a hundred buildings, each one a recreation of a famous Lake District building, including houses, farms and barns, which combine to recreate the Lakeland landscape. The intricately detailed replicas include classics such as Hill Top Farm (the home of Beatrix Potter), the Bridge House at Ambleside, Townend Farmhouse at Troutbeck, and local castles and churches. Architecturally close-to-perfect round Westmorland chimneys, wrestler roof slates, crow-stepped gable ends and mullion windows have been patiently handcrafted. The iconic Windermere’s Baddeley Clock took Edward three months to complete – using memory and old photographs – and the replica of Slater’s Bridge with the adjoining Clapper Bridge at Little Langdale spans over 50 ft (15,24 m).
The full-size Oriental Building, which doubles as a gift shop, overlooks a lush Oriental garden and there are water features throughout the village. Careful when you bring small children along as site seeing is unsupervised – apart from the few ducks that freely roam the grounds. There’s also an educational theme as the replicas each have their own history, which is cleverly tied into an informal, child-friendly quiz.
Unlike Bekonscot in Beaconsfield, the world’s oldest original model village in the world and built on a scale of 1:12, Edward rarely uses any kind of scaled drawings. He chooses to build them from memory, sometimes referring to photographs for the more complex buildings. He wants to show how these buildings looked when he was a lad, he says. He wants to give something back to the wonderful place he grew up in. As tools he only uses a diamond saw, a hammer, adhesive, sand, cement and a special chisel to recreate the details of the buildings. Building materials include Lake District slate from Hodge Close, Coniston and Elterwater. That’s the easy bit – he must shop further afield, even abroad, for the fake moss he attaches to the roofs of his replicas.
Getting to Lakeland Miniature Village
Be sure to double-check the location when you go – some visitors have difficulty finding the Village. It’s literally built in the Robinsons’ back yard as the couple lives on the premises. They are in the village of Flooksburgh, 10 minutes by car from Grange-Over Sands. A bus service from Grange-Over-Sands runs hourly from the railway station but It could be fun to take the train: change at Lancaster for Cark-in-Cartmel and walk the 5 minutes to the Village. If this doesn’t take your fancy you can always check out Levens Hall which is close by.
You cannot drive in but there’s ample parking space outside. The main gate leads to a path made from old slate flag stones, leading to the ticket office in the main house. There’s a wheelchair-friendly alternative entrance at the side of the premises. Viewing and photographs are only allowed from the metre-wide gravel pathways between the miniature buildings.
Lakeland Miniature Village opens annually from March to October between 10:30 am and 5 pm, and visitors usually spend about an hour. Dog lovers will be pleased to know that dogs on leads are allowed. Read more on my site.