Exploring Whinlatter Forest in the Autumn

When October rolls around, the Lake District empties itself of visitors and the locals are left to explore. And while this is a time when many choose to snuggle down, make that extra cuppa, and turn the thermostat up – it truly is Ann Thriving Season.

Give me jumpers, warm coats, and a good pair of walking socks and I’m off out into the countryside. The empty trails really help you to appreciate the beauty of the Lakes and enjoy a spot of silence- not that our little village is ever particularly hectic. This was also the perfect opportunity to test out the Kendal Raincoat kindly sent to me by Lighthouse Clothing. It’s part of the new Heritage Collection now available online.

Taking time out

Every Wednesday, Adam and I take time out to enjoy our surroundings. It’s easy to get too used to living around here, so we head out for walks nearly every week to ensure we never take any of it for granted.

It’s difficult to explain, but once you live in a beauty spot, making the most of it can prove difficult.

We spent the weeks prior to our move to the Lake District discussing all the different walks we’d take, hills we’d climb, and villages we’d visit, only to neglect most of them once we actually arrived. Sure, lockdown had a lot to do with this, but we definitely didn’t push ourselves enough either.

Whinlatter Forest

So now we’re potentially sailing through the last few months of our time here in Cumbria, we’ve given ourselves the kick to start ticking off a few boxes.

This week was the turn of Whinlatter Forest. It’s been on my list for a while as England’s only true mountain forest – and what better time to explore than Autumn.

Whinlatter is just over an hour’s drive for us, which takes you past Derwentwater and through the gorgeous village of Braithwaite. This is a particularly nice location for a nosey and to have ‘If we lived here…’ conversations.

Dewy grass and muddy boots

You’ll find multiple routes from Whinlatter’s main car park, varying between 1 and 7 miles. We took the 10K running route to make sure we got a good couple of hours outdoors.

The thick evergreen forest might mean you miss out on the crunching of leaves under your feet, but there’s still plenty to set the Autumnal scene.

Think dewy grass, muddy boots, and your breath lingering in the air to really get you ready for the cooler seasons.  It’s also a fantastic backdrop for photos – check out how good the lining of the Kendal looks in this light.

Bob’s seat

There’s a lovely bench around a third of the way through the trail with a view that stretches for miles – a perfect stop for a snack and a natter. A sign on the bench pays tribute to a man named Bob, who must have one of the best seats in the Lake District. 

Whinlatter has plenty for visitors to take in- we spent an embarrassing amount of time taking pictures of fungi, for example. If you wanted to, there’s even the opportunity to hire bikes to take through one of the various mountain bike trails in the forest. This is a little too extreme for me, but it’s nice to know the option’s there.

Some routes through Whinlatter offer views of Derwentwater, while others give access to Grisedale Pike and the Heavy Sides trail. Whether you visit with your kids, other half, or even just your dogs – there’s more than enough to go at.

Out on the trails in Whinlatter

It’s wild to think that all this is all on our doorstep, but so rarely explored by those who live nearby. 

One of my favourite things about Whinlatter is how remote it feels. You take a long, winding road up to the forest, and once you’re parked, you can be out on the trails within a matter of minutes.

Spending some time in the middle of nowhere is great for my mind, even if my legs don’t exactly enjoy the hill climbs.

Explore your local area

With that said, my challenge to you this week is to explore somewhere on your doorstep that you’ve never been before.

This might be a place listed on TripAdvisor that you always avoid for no particular reason, or a viewpoint at the top of a hill you can never be bothered to climb. 

Take a couple of hours to wrap up warm, explore, treat yourself to a coffee, take an embarrassing number of pictures- and come back a happier human for it. And if the rain falls, it’s no problem – just pull your hood up and pretend you’re in The Bahamas. It might be a little cliche, but it does the trick.

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