Newest Review: ... then it would have cost an additional £4.50 per child, with any under 3 getting free entry. The Aquarium also does a family ticket, which... more
An Informative Day Out On The Cumbria Coast
Lake District Coast Aquarium (Maryport)
Member Name: Andy.mack
Lake District Coast Aquarium (Maryport)
Advantages: Excellent displays, Decent location, really well run
Disadvantages: Outside activities can be blighted by the weather
During our visit to the Lake District we were also going to use the trip to visit family in Aspatria, however as my cousin works during the day, we decided to spend the afternoon at the Lake District Coast Aquarium in Maryport before going round for dinner in the evening. The Coast Aquarium is one of two Aquariums located in and around the Lake District with the Lake District Aquarium located on Windermere and this one located on the west coast of Cumbria. As entrance to this Aquarium was also included on our Lake District pass it felt like the ideal way to spend a day.
The Aquarium itself is located in the Harbour and is signposted from the A596, which is one of the main roads from Carlisle to Workington. It is located on the South Quay of the Harbour with a pay and display car park right outside the door. The centre of Maryport is also only a couple of minutes' walk away, meaning there is plenty of parking within easy access of the Aquarium. It takes roughly half an hour to get to Maryport from Carlisle and we also spent a similar amount of time in the car coming from our campsite near Keswick.
As with a lot of the attractions we visited on this trip, our entrance to the Lake District Coast Aquarium was covered on our Lake District Pass. Had it not been included then we would have been looking at paying £7 each. Had we also had children then it would have cost an additional £4.50 per child, with any under 3 getting free entry. The Aquarium also does a family ticket, which lets in 2 adults and 2 children for £22, saving a very small £1 in total. The prices seemed a little high given the size of the building, but I felt that judgement would be best served after our visit.
We didn't visit the Aquarium until the afternoon but it is open from 10am to 6pm everyday and had our visit been earlier, the ticket allows you to re-enter the Aquarium up until 5pm each day. It is open all year round with the exception of Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Something Smells A Bit Fishy
You enter the Aquarium to the left of the reception desk through a pair of double doors and the scent of the aquarium hits you almost straight away. It also appears to be a lot darker than many of the Aquariums we have visited. Once inside and after your eyes adjust to the lighting it is quite similar to a lot of Aquariums with the walls painted dark blue and the floors a black rubber mat following through the various tanks in the walls through to an exit.
The first thing that struck me however was the way the tanks and displays in-between had been done. The idea behind the layout is to give you an idea of the habitat and species living right outside the door in the Solway. There are no real glamorous varieties of fish in here, simply the types of fish you would expect to see around the Lake District coast. Now I've been to and enjoyed a lot of Aquariums, however I found this idea to be far better. The displays talked about the disintegration of the coast line and what is being done to protect the area.
It made the whole exhibition seem a lot more real. Alongside the standard tanks there were exhibits such as the Harbour Wall display, which showed exactly how the fish in the harbour dealt with the waves and also which species you would expect to see out there. The display used the simulation of a giant wave machine to send a wave of water crashing into the end wall and letting you see how the fish reacted. We were also fortunate enough to see some of the fish and a squid being fed by one of the keepers. He gave a brief talk and seemed very knowledgeable about the different fish in each tank.
The exhibits and tanks therefore offered something I had previously felt had been missing from other Aquariums. It takes the time to educate visitors on the wildlife and habitats within the local area and I felt this was a really good thing. The Aquarium itself could maybe have been bigger as the paths around the inside were quite narrow, but thankfully it was quite empty. The information and displays actually make the Aquarium worth the entrance fee and I'd happily visit again to help support the local conservation efforts.
Once you've looked around the Aquarium there are a number of other facilities you can make use of to spend a bit more time and money at the centre. It has the obligatory gift shop selling everything from rubbers and fridge magnets to cuddly toys and pirate swords. There is also a decent sized café with a decent menu at reasonable prices. As we were heading to my cousins for dinner we opted against getting anything here, however it looked very clean and the food smelt nice.
In addition for the kids there is a crazy golf course, costing £2.75 for adults and £1.95 for children. It was raining the day of our visit and since this was outside we decided to give it a miss. It seems almost traditional now, that no matter where you go to an Aquarium it seems to always have a crazy golf course attached.
A Decent Afternoon Out
We spent a total of an hour and half at the Lake District Coast Aquarium, which given the size of it and the fact there weren't many other visitors that day is a real testament to the amount and quality of information and displays within. It made for an interesting afternoon out and would certainly work out as value for money if you are interested in the local area. I really thought that the Aquarium was clean, tidy, informative and generally well run and for that reason I would have no hesitation in recommending it as a worthwhile half day out should you be in this area for a holiday.
Summary: An educational afternoon on the Cumbrian coast
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