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Art in Grizedale Forest

Wandering through Cumbria's only 'interactive' woods.

Distance 5 miles (8km)

Minimum time 3hrs

Ascent/gradient 820ft (250m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Forest tracks and woodland paths, 3 stiles

Landscape Conifer plantations and mixed woodland

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer OL 7 The English Lakes (SE)

Start/finish SD 336944

Dog friendliness Can run free inside forest boundaries

Parking Several car parks at Grizedale Visitor Centre

Public toilets At Visitor Centre

Notes Easier with trail map from information centre

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1 The route follows the green waymarks of the Silurian Trail almost to Satterthwaite. Starting from the Visitor Centre, cut diagonally left across the play area, go through the doorway in the wall out on to a lane and turn right. Just beyond the farmhouse on the right, leave the lane for the path highlighted by a waymark post. The path leaves and rejoins a cycle route before coming to a forestry road, where you turn right.

2 Ignore the first path that doubles back left, then leave the forestry road for a track forking left. With a wall on the right and bracken and bramble on the left, the track climbs steadily uphill. After dipping to ford a couple of streams the route forks left and cuts across to the forestry road on the horizon. Turn left here and follow the road south, with Carron Crag's summit rock directly ahead. Where the track bends sharp left leave it to scale a stile in a deer fence. A little path now wriggles through trees and scrub to the summit trig point and the best viewpoint of the day. To the west, the Coniston fells are laid out across the horizon.

3 On the descent you'll see a large wood-carved ring, an exhibit by Linda Watson called 17? South. Seen from the path, it frames the village of Satterthwaite to perfection and makes a good seat to enjoy the view. The path continues to descend to rejoin the forestry road abandoned earlier. Just to the left you'll see a huge wooden statue, David Kemp's The Ancient Forester. Back at the junction, turn right along the forestry road to a crossroads of tracks, where you go straight ahead (south) on the green route. The track ends at a turning circle, but the route continues as a narrow path that weaves through lovely mixed woodland. Along this section you'll see a series of symbolic art, but it is less interesting than the beauty of the surroundings.

4 The path descends to a forestry road. Turn right, then take the left fork forest road (south west), down to the valley bottom, where you'll see the open-air cinema screen on the right. The track arcs left. Leave it for the waymarked path on the right, which passes a sheltered seat before rejoining the track further uphill. On leaving the forest the track degenerates into a narrow walled lane, Moor Lane, which comes out to the Satterthwaite road by a small car park.

5 Turn left along the lane into Satterthwaite, passing the inn and the church, before taking the second cul-de-sac on the right, up past the cemetery towards Bogle Wood. At the terminus take the left of two lilac-banded waymarkers (northbound), the Bogle Crag Trail. The path heads north through woodland. Ignore the path doubling back uphill at the next junction, and turn right on meeting the forestry road.

6 Where the Bogle Crag Trail climbs away to the right, go straight ahead on a winding forestry trail. Abandon this at a white waymarker for a narrow path on the left, which descends to join a tarmac path (blue waymarkers). Take the lower path at the next junction.

7 Pass beneath a huge footbridge, then double back left. Sculptures come thick and fast now. Paul Dodgson's, Shadow Faces of the Forest and Family Day Out are rather like Alberto Giacometti sculptures in wood. You may hear jungle music coming through the trees, and if you're lucky you can join in. First there's Jony Easterby's African Drums and Marimba, then there's Will Menter's Rabbit Hole Marimba. The route now weaves its way back past the foundations and terraces of the old hall to the road just short of the Visitor Centre.

Grizedale, 'the valley of the pigs', has always been forested, from the time when wild boar were hunted here by Norman barons, through to the present day, when 6,047 acres (2,447ha) have been covered, largely with conifers. Perhaps the guilt of planting all the Christmas trees got too much for the foresters in the 1970s. It was then that the 'art in the park' idea was born. There are now over 90 sculptures - round one corner there may be a wolf; round the next there's something that you can't quite comprehend, perhaps waiting for you to give it some meaning. You can even interact with the drums and marimbas that you'll see late in the walk.

What to look for

The ancient oak woods around Bogle Crag once provided the charcoal for iron smelting. You may notice the old flattened hollows of the charcoal pitsteads. You will also see a restored potash pit beside the Bogle Trail.

Where to eat and drink

The Eagle's Head at Satterthwaite is a friendly pub serving Theakston's ales and tasty bar meals such as game pie. The Café in the Forest at the Grizedale Visitor Centre has take-away hot and cold food, and also serves hot meals.

While you're there

Children's author, Beatrix Potter has connections with this area. Her farm at Hill Top, Near Sawrey, which she bought with the royalties of her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1900), is full of Beatrix Potter memorabilia. The National Trust's Beatrix Potter Gallery at Hawkshead, displays many of Potter's original illustrations.

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