The Grizedale Forest
The Grizedale Forest lies between Coniston Water and Windermere, a huge area of ancient woodland and commercial plantation under the care of the Forestry Commission. The forest chiefs have made creative efforts in conservation and diversity, turning this mighty woodland into a recreational area for all to enjoy. There are many waymarked tracks and trails offering various levels of effort and distance and so is ideal for all, including provision for disabled visitors with the introduction of the tarmaced “Ridding Wood Trail”.
The Visitor Centre And Grizedale Arts
At the heart is the visitor centre. This is the best place to start, picking up maps and information to get the most from your day in the forest. There is an information desk, shop, cafe, exhibition rooms, galleries, bike hire and a children’s play area.
A well defined map will show the many trails for both walking and mountain bikes. Part of the forest's diversity is its involvement with the arts. Inspired by forests in America, Forestry Commission manager, Bill Grant, set up the Grizedale Society in 1968. Initially it concentrated on the performing arts, but with the assistance of Peter Davis and Northern Arts, established the sculpture project in 1977.
As you walk the trails you will discover a host of sculpture by such artists as Richard Harris and David Nash, both former forest resident artists. The prestige of creating and exhibiting in the forest has grown over the years, attracting many prominent artists to this natural gallery. From huts to spires, rooting boars to walking walls, the diversity is huge and ever changing, not least as many of the pieces are made from the surrounding woodland material, gently fading back into the very forest from which they were created.
Walking The Forest Trails
The big hike is to follow the Silurian Way. Nine and a half miles long, the walk takes you through both sides of the valley, taking in deep forest glades and climbing to higher view points. On route you will see most of the sculptures and is estimated to take about five hours, so a packed lunch is a good idea.
The forest hosts many organised events and special days. These range from the ‘Forest Giants’, where you watch the process of felling trees by mighty machines. Guided walks to see the art. Badger and deer watch evenings and a many performing arts events. It is well worth contacting the visitor centre for a list of what’s on during your stay.
Mountain Biking & Adventure
Many trails are open to mountain bikes. You can either bring your own or hire cycles from Grizedale Mountain Bikes. Grizdale hosts a number of sporting events including rally driving and The Grizedale Mountaain Bike Challenge - for information on taking part in the GMBC and dates, see our links below. For those who require a bit more adventure then you must simply Go Ape. Recently introduced, ‘Go Ape’ is aerial trekking high above the forest floor where you swing through the trees, across rope bridges, scramble nets and zip slides. Each session lasts about two hours and is full of adrenaline fuelled fun, laughter and adventure. The minimum age is 8 years old and those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult; advance booking is advised. Whether you take a short gentle stroll, tackle one of the longer routes or take a bike, the forest is a must for any visit to the Lake District, offering a great day out in splendid scenery.
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