Monday, 4 May 2015

Whinlatter Forest

Place Name:  Whinlatter Forest
Location: Lake District, England, CA12 5TW
Cost: Free
Parking: Plenty, pay and display
Walking distance: Variable, 1 hour to all day
Restrictions: Dogs are not allowed into the visitors centre, shop or cafe
Refreshments: Cafe by visitors centre (dogs allowed in outside seating area)

Whinlatter is the big brother of Grizedale which I reviewed previously. On that note, I will quickly start on their similarities and differences which are worth bearing in mind.

The parking is again pay and display, though more sensibly broken into hour blocks. I was more prepared this time and had plenty of change! A Go Ape is located within the forest, though this one felt more discretely placed to one side and tons of mountain bike trails. Missy, as I said previously, is on fairly strict lead walks because of her claw, so the odd bike whizzing by wasn't a problem, but should be noted for those who let their dogs free range, especially as the year warms up.
More carvings to find!
The one major difference that did surprise me is that the cafe in this one is not dog friendly (well, they can sit out under a shelter on a porch) and the prices are a touch more expensive - but you expect that when one place uses teabags and the other serves you loose tea leaves, a strainer and a menagerie of pots for it all!

Without sounding snobbish about trees, this forest is part of the forestry commission for felling and is a wave of evergreens. It is predominantly firs and pines with the odd lone birch tree making a spindly break for it. However, the forest still retains a natural feel, unlike the eerie endless rows of some forests and is well populated with birds and such. It is also huge. With the parking meter ever ticking in the back of my mind, we didn't stray off the marked routes (we did two walks, the yellow short walk and the blue medium walk) but there was plenty of 'off road' stuff to explore should you be a frequent visitor or decide to do a whole day.

Its difficult to really get the full scale of the place
We did have time for a little look at the playgrounds. Yes, plural. Whoever came up with splitting a play park into little bite sized pieces and spreading it across a walk was probably a genius. The areas we looked at were well made and designed, and we may have indulged in a go at what was effectively a giant sand pit toy but with pea gravel. The website also promises the Gruffalo (a statue of a children's book character) who we failed to find, but I suspect that he was tucked away on a separate little path rather than on a main one.

Overall rating : 4/5 - The parking (again) and the fact that the cafe didn't allow dogs whilst the sister site did pulled the score down. However, the paths are well kept, facilities were great and overall a great place to visit that could either be a tremendous morning walk or an all day thing.

Is that rabbit I smell on the wind?

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