If you go down to the woods today...

...you're sure for a sculptural surprise. On a walk through Grizedale Forest, in the Lake District, Mike Gerrard stumbled on a god of Thunder and a living room straight out of Habitat

"HABITAT'S my favourite," the little boy told us, with a fervour that would have brought a rosy glow to Sir Terence Conran's cheeks. "It's great, it's got a television and a sofa and everything." He consulted his clipboard. "It's number 42, down there on the left." We promised we wouldn't miss it, and returned to our cheese sandwiches.

We were gazing out at a small lake in the Grizedale Forest, between Windermere and Coniston Water. Out of the lake grew the bones of half a fish, several feet long. The reflections of the water cleverly completed the lower half of the wooden skeleton. Only One Fish Left it was called, one of dozens of magical natural sculptures in the Grizedale Forest Sculpture Project. We had thought it sounded fun, so had gone along, planning to spend an hour or two or however long it would take to complete the inevitable Sculpture Trail.

"How long will it take to get round?" we asked the woman in the Visitor Centre as we bought the guide map. "To see them all? I'd say about two days. There are about 70 shown on the map, and we're adding new ones regularly. And they're in several different places around the forest. So, two days at least." Two days? That`s not so much a trail, more a way of life.

The project began in 1977, when sculptors wanting to work in the natural environment of the forest were invited from around the world to come on residencies of up to six months. Working mainly in stone, wood, water and other natural materials, their projects are mostly hidden down tracks in the forest. Part of the fun is finding them in the first place. And fun they are, as the little boy with the clipboard and his family, trailing behind, confirmed. Small wooden carvings - of ants, wasps, bees, birds, deer, otters and other creatures - at the side of the main path indicate where you need to veer off and explore.

We headed for Habitat. Off to the right was something we had to see, one of several works by Andy Goldsworthy, the British genius at this kind of art form. His stunning works are in Australian deserts, Californian forests, Alaskan wildernesses, Japanese museums - and three are here in Grizedale. Off to our right was Taking a Wall for a Walk!, a long and sinuous piece of dry-stone walling which wiggles round trees as it disappears into the forest. "I enjoy the idea of walls travelling," Goldsworthy says in the guide, "old walls becoming new - changing shape in the process."

Nearby is The Passage hut by Keith Rand, out of the front of which a long, thin tree trunk projects, arched like a fishing rod. A family is just leaving, and seeing us apparently content to enjoy the creation from a distance, the mother tells us: "You've got to go up to it and go round the back. There's a little peep-hole. I won't say any more." Indeed, there is a little peep-hole, almost hidden, and as we leave we bump into a Dutch girl whose path keeps criss-crossing ours. "You've got to go round the back," we tell her.

Elsewhere, we meet up with the little boy and his family again. "Habitat's down that way," he tells us. We're going, we're going, honest! They have just been looking at God of Thunder 4 by Shigeo Toya. "Pain accompanies anger," says the artist's note, "The Thunder-god in pain makes a wry face. Pain is transmitted to a tree in a fusion with the Thunder-god." Hmmm... "You've got to thump it," says the little lad's dad. So we do, and an eerie reverberation fills the air.

And then we're at Habitat by Richard Caink, a living room complete with curtains and standard lamp, made from wood. It is big and bold and simple, a kind of wooden Fred Flintstone room. "The intention," according to the artist, "is to articulate notions of our relationship to the natural world," although I'm sure he'd be happy with the little boy's assessment: "It's great."

While some sculptures are fun, others are spooky, and the Wolves created by Sally Matthews are positively frightening. We knew they were there somewhere, and were talking under the outcrop on which they stand, when I happened to look up and nearly had a heart-attack. Looking down at me was a wolf, both realistic and a fairy-tale nightmare at the same time. And there was another one, and another. Elsewhere there are wild boars, elephants, waterwheels, fountains, owls and deer. On another trail, there are marimbas to play, extravagant seats to sit on, and a larch arch.

"Look," says my partner as we near the end, "through the trees." Has she spotted another sculpture? No, it's a bushy-tailed red squirrel, posing on a tree trunk. I get a sudden vision of it waiting till dark, when the last visitors leave, and heading for Habitat, sitting down with a packet of nuts and watching the telly.

For information, contact the Visitor Centre (tel: 01229 860010). Silverholme, in Graythwaite, a secluded Georgian house near the sculpture trail forest and on the shores of Lake Windermere offers b&b for pounds 23 per person per night, based on two sharing (tel: 015395 31332).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Suggested Topics
News
Denny Miller in 1959 remake of Tarzan, the Ape Man
people
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl despairs during the arena auditions
tvX Factor review: Drama as Cheryl and Simon spar over girl band

News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
news
News
i100Exclusive interview with the British analyst who helped expose Bashar al-Assad's use of Sarin gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Angel Di Maria celebrates his first goal for Manchester United against QPR
Football4-0 victory is team's first win under new manager Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
art
News
newsIn short, yes
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script
tv'Thomas comes right up to the abyss', says the actor
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris claimed the top spot in this week's single charts
music
Sport
BoxingVideo: The incident happened in the very same ring as Tyson-Holyfield II 17 years ago
News
Groundskeeper Willie has backed Scottish independence in a new video
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor poses the question of whether we are every truly alone in 'Listen'
tvReview: Possibly Steven Moffat's most terrifying episode to date
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
i100
Life and Style
Cara Delevigne at the TopShop Unique show during London Fashion Week
fashion
News
The life-sized tribute to Amy Winehouse was designed by Scott Eaton and was erected at the Stables Market in Camden
peopleBut quite what the singer would have made of her new statue...
Sport
England's Andy Sullivan poses with his trophy and an astronaut after winning a trip to space
sport
News
peopleThe actress has agreed to host the Met Gala Ball - but not until 2015
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Day In a Page

    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week
    The fall of Rome? Cash-strapped Italy accused of selling its soul to the highest bidder

    The fall of Rome?

    Italy's fears that corporate-sponsored restoration projects will lead to the Disneyfication of its cultural heritage
    Glasgow girl made good

    Glasgow girl made good

    Kelly Macdonald was a waitress when she made Trainspotting. Now she’s taking Manhattan
    Sequins ahoy as Strictly Come Dancing takes to the floor once more

    Sequins ahoy as Strictly takes to the floor once more

    Judy Murray, Frankie Bridge and co paired with dance partners
    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Wearable trainers and other sporty looks

    Alexander Wang pumps it up at New York Fashion Week
    The landscape of my imagination

    The landscape of my imagination

    Author Kate Mosse on the place that taught her to tell stories