Covering about 6000 acres between Coniston Water and Windermere, Grizedale Forest is the largest area of woodland in the Lake District. And this vast space is criss-crossed by an amazing network of paths, bridleways, mountain bike trails and forest roads. It’d take days, weeks even, to explore the whole area, a mixture of dense conifer plantations, broad-leaved woodland, tarns and patches of open heath and moorland.
Trail maps are available from the visitor centre, showing routes for both walkers and mountain bikers. One of the most popular walks climbs to Carron Crag, with its superb views of the Coniston Fells as well as more distant ranges. At 1030ft (314m), this is the highest point in the whole forest.
Families can rent bikes and follow waymarked routes along well-surfaced forest roads, while more serious mountain bikers might want to brave the black-graded singletrack with its terrifying jumps and bermed turns.
Anyone spending any time in the forest will inevitably stumble across one of the sculptures for which Grizedale has developed a reputation. Dozens of installations are scattered throughout the forest and range from a giant fox to the more esoteric ‘Mountains We Made’, a series of steam-bent sections of wood that represent Lakeland’s ten highest peaks.
Grizedale Forest, like Whinlatter in the north of the National Park, is also home to a Go Ape high-wire, forest-canopy obstacle course, but you’ll need to have a head for heights and be reasonably fit. If you’re lacking in either of these areas, there’s always the gentler Segway tours – or you can sit it out in the visitor centre café.