For me, any trip to the Northern Lakes isn’t complete without a visit to this beautiful forest. It has spectacular views, walks for all abilities, as well as great mountain biking. I absolutely love it here, and truly cannot recommend it enough. In my opinion it really is the best that Forestry England has to offer; the absolute King of their forests. For many people visiting the area, they head straight for walks around lakes and their surrounding fells, but missing this place is missing a true gem.
When I was a child, I spent many happy times doing the Rabbit Run and Fox Trot over at Whinlatter (does anyone else remember those children’s trails?). I was so excited to take my daughter this weekend for the first time, and really hope she grows to love it like I have.
Parking: Pay at the machines after your visit, we parked at the main visitor centre.
Facilities: An adventure playground, toilets and cafe. A Go Ape is also on site.
A walk at Whinlatter is perfect in any weather, so we chose to come on a day that was actually pretty miserable. It was cold, windy and wet, which made the shelter of the forest so appealing! Whilst the poor visibility meant the views weren’t quite as good, it did mean the becks running through the forest were full of water and were beautiful!
There are a number of children’s activity trails to follow here, including the Shaun Glow Trail (which we’ve recently done over at Dalby Forest) and what looks like a great Gruffalo Sculpture Trail.
There are also a number of set walks from the centre, with super easy navigation following coloured markers. Map here.
The Red Two Gills Trail and Blue Comb Beck Trail are both 1.75 miles, so we decided to combine them to make a longer route. It’s definitely not buggy friendly, and parts of the walk have steep drops, so your little ones need to be sensible!
We started off on the red route, climbing up through the trees from the visitor centre, past the adventure playground. The first part of this walk shares the route with the Gruffalo sculpture trail, which added some extra fun for Jess. But once the routes split, and the path turns off the forest track, this is where the walk really becomes much more fun. The narrow path winds through the trees alongside Black Gill, before the it opens up and you get more spectacular views!
Following the path down alongside Comb Gill, you reach a forest track where you can pick up the blue path. Just be careful not to miss the turning- the coloured marker faces away from the direction you’re walking, but really you just need keep on following Comb Gill downhill. It was so lovely on this path, we decided to stop for our picnic.
The path continued through the beautiful woodland, past a ancient sheepfold, a disused Dam and a pond before you climb back up to the centre, where you get further fantastic views.
If you have older children, you might want to try one of the other marked paths. Lord’s Seat (552m) is a fantastic fell to climb, such a different walk to others in the area, and one I remember doing with my parents over 20 years ago. Simply superb, and as a bonus you can bag them a Wainwright.
Whinlatter also has some amazing Mountain Bike Trails, perfect for those who are starting to get into the sport. The Quercus trail is only a blue grade, but is thrilling and stunning in equal measures.
Whatever you do on a visit to the Northern Lakes, just make sure Whinlatter is on your itinerary.
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