Grizedale forest trails

Wandering through Cumbria's only 'interactive' woods.


Grizedale Forest


6.4 miles (10.3kms)

1160ft (353m)

About the walk

Grizedale, 'the valley of the pigs', has always been at least partly 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, mainly with conifers. Perhaps the guilt of planting all those gloomy 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 more than 60 permanent sculptures dotted around the forest. 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. Some works, especially those made from natural materials, weather and change over time; and sometimes other things change around them. A good example is the large wood-carved ring which you'll see on the descent from Carron Crag. This is 17 Degrees South by Linda Watson. Originally it created a perfect frame for the view down to the village of Satterthwaite (which you'll visit later); now, however, the trees have grown too tall.

Two wheels good

Another aspect of the forest which you're bound to observe is its immense popularity for cycling and mountain biking. The forest roads cater for all abilities, while more hardcore mountain biking is catered for both on the bridleways and byways which cut across the forest and on purpose-built trails. Early on you'll see a bit of the new Black route (mountain bike trails are often graded, like ski-runs, green, blue, red and black). After Carron Crag you'll have several glimpses of the North Face Trail, especially as you descend from the turning circle (point 4). This red-graded route attracts a range of abilities and this is its main climb.

Silurian story

The route follows the green waymarks of the Silurian Trail almost to Satterthwaite, taking in the summit of Carron Crag, the best viewpoint of the day. To the west the Coniston fells are laid out across the horizon, and to the south Morecambe Bay is a shimmering presence. And all around – you'll have scrambled up them to reach the trig point – are the Silurian rocks of the Windermere Supergroup which give the trail its name. They may be a little younger than the rocks of the high fells – a mere 425 million years old – but these slates and mudstones still have plenty of character.

Walk directions

With your back to the cafe, go under the arch by the shop, out to a lane and turn right. After crossing a stream, the bike routes go left on a track. Go straight ahead up a waymarked path with a few steps. The path leaves and recrosses a bridleway before reaching a forestry road, where you turn right.

Pass another bridleway, then the exit of The Black bike route, before forking left up a stony track with green and red waymarks, climbing steadily. After dipping to ford a couple of streams, a narrow path on the left cuts across to a forestry road just above. Turn left and follow the road south. Keep left then, where the track bends sharp left, go straight ahead on a path which wriggles through trees and scrub to the summit trig point.

The path descends to rejoin the forestry road you were following earlier. Turn right to a crossroads of tracks, where you go straight ahead (south). The track ends at a turning circle.

The North Face Trail comes up from the right while our route continues straight ahead as a narrow path that weaves through lovely mixed woodland. Along this section you'll see a series of symbolic art sculptures. Cross the North Face Trail and descend to a forestry road. Turn right, then keep left down into the gill. Fork left before the main track crosses a bridge.

Follow the path over two stone bridges. Where it rejoins the track, go right a few paces then left up a waymarked path, passing a shelter before meeting the track again. Cross at an angle, following green posts, descend and turn left on another track. Leaving the forest the track becomes a narrow walled lane, Moor Lane, dropping to the Satterthwaite road at a small car park.

Turn left along the lane into Satterthwaite, passing the Eagle's Head inn. Bear right after the church, then turn right on a steep lane which climbs past the cemetery. At the terminus take the left of two lilac-banded waymarkers, the Bogle Crag Trail. The path heads north through woodland, traversing wooded slopes. Ignore paths climbing on the right, continue to a forest road and turn right.

At the next junction, go left (really straight ahead) on a winding forestry trail. Abandon this at a white waymarker for a path on the left. Make a winding descent, following signs for Visitor Centre, then join a tarmac track. Keep left at a fork, pass beneath a footbridge, then double back left and follow the path past new visitor facilities and the terraces of the old hall to the car park.

Additional information

Forest tracks and woodland paths

Conifer plantations and mixed woodland

Most of the route is shared-use, with many cyclists around. Keep dogs under close control

AA Walker's Map 2 Central Lake District

Large car park just south of Visitor Centre

At Visitor Centre

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Walking in safety

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About the area

Discover Cumbria

Cumbria's rugged yet beautiful landscape is best known for the Lake District National Park that sits within its boundaries. It’s famous for Lake Windermere, England’s largest lake, and Derwent Water, ‘Queen of the English Lakes'. This beautiful countryside once inspired William Wordsworth and his home, Dove Cottage, in Grasmere is a popular museum. Another place of literary pilgrimage is Hill Top, home of Beatrix Potter, located near Windermere. Tom Kitten, Samuel Whiskers and Jemima Puddleduck were all created here.

Much of Cumbria is often overlooked in favour of the Lake Distirct. In the south, the Lune Valley remains as lovely as it was when Turner painted it. The coast is also a secret gem. With its wide cobbled streets, spacious green and views of the Solway Firth, Silloth is a fine Victorian seaside resort. Other towns along this coastline include Whitehaven, Workington and Maryport. Carlisle is well worth a look – once a Roman camp, its red-brick cathedral dates back to the early 12th century and its 11th-century castle was built by William Rufus.

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