Pocket Britain
Britain > Lake District > Grizedale Forest

A pretty forest that became an unusual art project

Listen to this article


North Face Bike Trail
Go Ape
Grizedale Forest is the leafiest corner of the Lake District. It takes up 25 square kilometres between Coniston Water and Windermere, just a short trip from Hawkshead village.
Those with keen eyes and good timing will spot the wood's local residents, including foxes, badgers and deer. But Grizedale is also home to a more unusual population. Hidden amongst the hills and trees are an army of otherworldly sculptures. Many of them look human, while some depict animals of the forest. Others are more abstract. They each vary wildly in size, shape and colour. You'll find sculptures you can hide inside, and others that can be played like a musical instrument. These strange creations were made by dozens of different artists with a variety of different materials, so they never lose their ability to surprise you. There are around 80 different sculptures altogether, but no one's sure of the exact number. It's practically impossible to find them all, but to spot a fair share you can follow one of Grizedale's walking trails.

An Owl sculpture in Grizedale Forest
Photo asands
These well-marked routes vary in length and difficulty. The easy ones are more like a stroll, while the harder ones require thighs of steel! The shortest route, the Red Ridding Trail, is also the most popular. It's only a kilometre and a half long, but it passes about 20 of the sculptures. It's an introduction to the forest's charms that anyone can enjoy. More experienced walkers should follow the Carron Crag Trail, and reach the highest point in the forest. From here you can see the carpet of treetops, and the blue lakes beyond.

Blubells in Grizedale Forest
Photo Andy Hay
Before you choose which route you'd like to follow, it's a good idea to pop into Grizedale Forest's visitor centre. You can buy various maps and guides, or refuel at the café. The site also has a mountain bike shop, with bicycles available to rent. This is a popular activity, with over a quarter of the forest's visitors choosing to explore on two wheels. The most exciting cycle route on offer is the brand new North Face Trail, which opened in 2006 after a £167,000 development project. The course snakes around the woods for over 16 kilometres. To successfully complete it, you'll have to navigate steep descents and narrow boardwalks.
If you've still got energy to burn after all that, then get ready to do your best monkey impression at Go Ape. This unusual attraction is a bit like an obstacle course, but with one crucial difference – it's suspended up to 19 metres off the forest floor. To reach the end, you'll need to traverse rope ladders, wooden bridges and zip slides. By the time you've finished, walking around like a normal human being will probably seem exceptionally boring.
Visitor Information
Grizedale Forest is open daily. Entry is FREE. Grizedale Forest, Hawkshead, Ambleside, LA22 0QJ. Tel: 01229 860010

Back ~ Top ~ Home ~ Index

Pocket Britain is optimised for use on a smartphone or tablet with internet access. All content is subject to copyright. All reasonable methods have been used to ensure information supplied is accurate at the time of publication. However, it is advisable to check information before relying on it. Privacy Policy