Whimsical, enchanted, ethereal. No matter how you describe them, forests are truly wonderful places to be.
Welcome to England’s only true mountain forest. Hidden in the fells above Bassenthwaite Lake, it was originally planted to combat timber shortages after world war one. Nowadays the trees have grown tall enough to accommodate an abundance of wildlife and an outdoor activity centre (including Go Ape). As a dinosaur, I like to keep my feet firmly on the ground. So I chose to go and search for some of the red squirrels who call this forest home.
There is a visitor centre on the way in and a huge map to help you decide which route to take. There are 3 hard mountain bike routes, 2 running trails, 9 walking trails and even a one specially designed for “trampers” (really funky mobility scooters). I chose the red “two gills” trail because I wasn’t sure how far I would end up walking.
Young adventursaurus’ can go on the gruffalo trail, I did some of this as part of the red trail. The statutes are very lifelike and similar to the characters from the book. I liked the owl the best.
Deeper in the forest was a very quiet affair, rarely did I see a human (and the squirrels were rarer than that!). Though I did find a toadstool, tent and small wooden house. All the perfect size for a dinosaur, I wonder who lives there?
The beginning of the trail was mainly on a dirt track, nice and easy to follow. Until a red sign took me down a small track into the trees. I walked quietly and even spotted a tiny vole, he was scared and lost in the middle of a mountain bike path. But, my photographer rescued him and put him in the undergrowth.
It crosses both Black Gill and Comb Gill as they flow down the mountain slopes to Bassenthwaite Lake below. Each turn is more beautiful than the previous.
This forest is definitely enchanted, mushrooms are everywhere (as are some fungis). Though my favourite thing to spot was definitely the smiley face tree! To this day I still can’t decide if it was carved or if it was a natural occurance.
Halfway around the home I found a wooden chair looking out over one of the best views on the area. Braithwaite, Bassenthwaite Lake, Derwentwater and Keswick are visible on a clear day. From the top of Go Ape you can wave at Scotland.
Through the ferns and down a mountain took me to a small rickety bridge which I made sure to run across really quickly in case of trolls.
The last of the summer wildflowers were enjoying a rare sunny September morning. The butterflies were very happy about this, as was I. Leaving the last waterfall behind I was beginning to get sad that I was nearing the end of my hike.
But, it wasn’t over yet. Once again the best surprise was left until last. Alpacas. The friendliest and most beautiful herd. My photographer cried (strange human). An alpaca even came over to hug my photographer and I helped to stroke the Alpaca (we don’t know it’s name).
This herd of alpacas are available to go for a walk with you at Whinlatter forest and also other sites too. Both my photographer and I have decided we would love to return and adventure though the Lakes with these fabulous creatures. They are all rehomed and rescued, so they can live a great life in the Lake District. You can read more on their website.
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