Things to do and places to visit on a rainy day

A fresh air walk is a wonderful thing, but if a sudden downpour sends you running for cover, don't let the rain spoil your day out. We've still got plenty of things to do under cover - here's our pick of the best.

A man reading the paper at Allan Bank in Grasmere

Allan Bank, Cumbria 

Head to the reading room at Allan Bank, help yourself to a cup of tea, find a comfy chair and read at your leisure. You can also take inspiration from the changing landscape and have a go at drawing, painting or writing in our art room. Or head to our craft room where we have everything you need to try your hand at knitting, including step-by-step instructions for beginners.

The Saloon with carpet designed by Marion Dorn at Coleton Fishacre, the house designed in 1925 for Rupert and Lady Dorothy D'Oyly Carte at Kingswear, Devon

Coleton Fishacre, Devon 

Inside the house at Coleton Fishacre the jazz age is still swinging. Visitors are welcome to take a seat at the piano, tinkle the ivories and fill this atmospheric Art Deco house with some period tunes.

Items of scientific curiosity in the Electrical Room at Cragside, Northumberland

Cragside, Northumberland 

Find Lord Armstrong’s Electrical Room tucked away in the house at Cragside. It's a place of magic, mystery and electrical experimentation. See some of his experiments recreated before your eyes as our new installations bring the space to life and make the air crackle with electricity once again.

Visitor looking up at ceiling

Croome, Worcestershire 

From the home of a trend-setting 18th century Earl, to the centre of the Hare Krishna movement via stints as a boarding school and a secret wartime airbase, Croome has quite the eclectic history. A rainy day is the perfect excuse to peel back the layers of time and discover the colourful characters that once lived here.

The Great Hall at Ham House

Ham House, Richmond 

Ham House is only 10 miles from central London, but a visit will instantly transport you back to the 17th century. Discover the story of William Murray – friend of King Charles I - and his daughter Elizabeth, who used her wits and education to gain political influence and navigate the turbulence of the Civil War. Take a peek at the luxurious items in the collection, or uncover the stories of Ham’s ghosts – if you dare. You can always recover in the Orangery café afterwards with a cuppa and some tasty treats.

Servants sitting round the table at Ickworth

Ickworth, Suffolk 

Head downstairs to Ickworth’s basement to discover the lives of servants in the 1930s. Open the drawers and have a rummage, tap out a letter on an original 1930's typewriter, and explore the stories of those who lived and worked at Ickworth.

The newly restored stone floor in the central hall at Mount Stewart

Mount Stewart, County Down 

The team at Mount Stewart have been working hard to restore this magnificent mansion to its former glory. The last stage of the project was to uncover the beautiful stone floor in the Central Hall, and take it back to how it would have looked in the 1840s. Escape the rain to admire the finished project in all its glory, before heading to the café to warm up with a cuppa.

A view of the Long Gallery at Powis Castle and Garden, Powys, Wales.

Powis Castle, Powys 

If the weather is keeping you inside, you’ll need somewhere intriguing to explore. Powis was first built for the medieval Welsh Princes of Powys, but in 1587 it passed to the Herbert family who then spent the next 400 years re-modelling the castle to suit changing fashions. Today you can meander around lavishly decorated rooms and get a glimpse of how the residents used to live, or pay a visit to the Clive museum with its impressive collection of treasures from India.

Mill workers at Quarry Bank

Quarry Bank, Cheshire 

There’s plenty to keep you occupied inside the mill buildings at Quarry Bank. The heritage machinery is demonstrated daily, so you can feel the floors shake with the power of the spinning machines or hear the clatter of the weaving looms at work. The technical team will be on hand to tell you more about working life in the mill, and you can also have a go at interactive engineering challenges in the Brain Power gallery.

Two people inspect historic features in Souter's engine room

Souter Lighthouse, Tyne & Wear 

Climb the 76 steps to the top of Souter Lighthouse and look out on the foaming North Sea. This was the first lighthouse in the world designed and built to be powered by electricity. Opened in 1871, Souter remains an iconic beacon, dramatically hooped in red and white, and standing proud on the coastline midway between the Tyne and the Wear.

Visitors in the Billiard Room at Polesden Lacey, Surrey

Speke Hall, Liverpool 

If it's raining outside there are few better ways to while away the afternoon than playing billiards – and few better tables to play the game on then the wonderfully restored table at Speke Hall. Everyone is welcome to have a go. There are even special cues for children, and a box to stand on if you can't reach the table.

A closer look at the dolls' house at Uppark

Uppark, West Sussex 

The 18th-century dolls’ house is one of Uppark’s highlights. Dating between 1735 and 1740, this remarkable creation has never been remodelled or redecorated and features incredible attention to detail. You’ll find four poster beds with silk damask hangings, hallmarked silver and even miniature candle scones – just like a real Georgian house.