Charmed by the chimes on the wild side of Cumbria

Tales from the trees: Grizedale Forest, Lake District

It’s not what you expect in a forest. A huge brass key, the sort you would use to wind up a mechanical toy, is sticking out of the side of a tree. There’s no one near and the temptation is overwhelming; I turn it with a satisfying “click” before, unexpectedly, soft chimes rise from the forest floor, creating a countermelody to a song thrush in the canopy.

I always struggle with humans messing with landscape. I can’t help but feel nature is best, and best enjoyed, in a raw state. But occasionally we get it right. And Grizedale Forest is one such occasion.

The heart of the southern lakes is not water or mountain as you might expect, but sprawling woodland, a mix of pine and broad-leaves, between Windermere and Coniston. I am tackling one of its more strenuous tracks, the Silurian Way, as it twists and turns through a startling density of trees. Through the foliage, I glimpse a herd of deer in an adjoining field of buttercups. It takes a second before I realise they are sculptures.

Grizedale is home to the largest collection of site-specific environment art in the UK, which means the sculpture extends beyond the muscular beech trunks or colourful walls of dense evergreen. Andy Goldsworthy’s works sidewind up a patch of clearing: a giant white stile surprises from the trees; a vast red fox runs by a log pile.

After being led a wonderful 10 miles by the helpful green posts along the track, I come around to the hand of man in this forest. Back at the visitor centre, groups of people are helmeting up. Thrill-seekers enjoy an embarrassment of riches here too. The mountain biking trails are some of the best in the country and there is the ubiquitous forest adventure, “Go Ape”, wired through the canopy. Whatever you want from your woodland adventure, Grizedale is likely to offer it.

* Grizedale Forest (Ambleside, LA22 0QJ) is signposted from nearby Hawkshead village (2.8 miles) and easily walkable from the lovely village of Satterthwaite (1.2 miles). From the south by road, it is signed from the A590 at Haverthwaite. Windermere station is 10 miles away, with trains running regularly from Leeds, Edinburgh, Sheffield and Manchester via Transpennine Express (08457 000125; tpexpress.co.uk). Reward your tired limbs by staying at the stunning Linthwaite House (015394 88600; linthwaite.com), where doubles start from £180 per night including breakfast. Dinner in its beautiful restaurant is also highly recommended. For a budget trip, camping is available by the forest for £7 per night (Grizedale Camping Site)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
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

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral