Kids Keswick is a superb guide of 50 things to do with children in and near to Keswick (and the Borrowdale Valley). One such extract leads families to Whinlatter Forest, just above the village of Braithwaite (5 mins from Keswick). I took the children there while Grandad and Uncle Simon went on the Go Ape high ropes course – we could follow them around while having a fabulous time playing on the absolutely fantastic (free) playground that they have there. This opened in May 2011 and should be included on any visit to the Northern Lake District. The following text is an extract from the Kids Keswick guide – you can buy the guide in a number of shops in Keswick town, and also from Keswick Tourist Information Centre, priced £3.99. Well worth it if you’re a family coming to stay in one of our Keswick Cottages.
KIDS KESWICK EXTRACT
Whinlatter Forest is a wonderful multi-activity, multi-age group, all-weather attraction and has a real alpine feel. This, the only mountain forest in England (due to the fact it rises to 790m above sea level), is managed by the Forestry Commission with a visitor centre located four miles out of Keswick. This centre is the main hub of activity and is at the top of the Whinlatter Pass.
There are nature trails, orienteering trails, graded walks suitable for all terrain-buggies and adventurous wheelchair users, wonderful viewpoints, red squirrels, huge birdfeeders outside the café to fascinate children, ample warm toilets and good baby changing facilities.
The inviting café, called Siskins, produces delicious homemade food and has an enticing woodland-themed shop (also selling the trial maps) with a large screen relaying live video of the Bassenthwaite osprey next from April to August.
To the side of the café is a bike shop offering courses, bikes to buy or hire and some excellent single track trails start from here, graded to cater for all abilities. Up behind the shop is a free adventure playground (0-11 yrs) and above this Go Ape (10yrs+) dominates the trees.
If it’s wet but you don’t want to be indoors, the shelter of the densely planted conifers means Whinlatter is always an option with children! There is plenty of pay and display parking here.
Getting There: 10 minutes drive from Keswick – A66, west then turn onto the B5292/ Grid Ref: NY209245