Stretching over a vast area of the southern Lake District, Grizedale Forest, near Hawkshead, is an impressive woodland that draws all ages to explore its hidden spaces, enjoy excellent views, and marvel at stupendous sculptures.
Amongst everything else on offer, there are walking trails, mountain biking routes, pony trekking, Go Ape adventures and play areas… the list goes on! That’s all alongside the natural marvels: you’ll find rippling rivers, rolling hills, ancient trees, and tranquil tarns too.
Reserve a full day or two for Grizedale Forest during your holiday - you’ll want to come back again and again!
Art and sculpture in Grizedale Forest
Grizedale Forest is home to a collection of unique forest sculptures created by an impressive who’s-who of international artists. Paths wind through the forest taking in many of these pieces, some of which you’ll spot easily, and others you’ll have to search for more carefully. Your group will have a whole lot of fun trying to be the first to spot another piece of artwork. Count them up as you explore the walking and cycling trails.
Alternatively, for a more traditional experience, head to the gallery space at Grizedale Forest Visitor Centre, which holds a number of exhibitions throughout the year.
Mountain biking and bike hire
Grizedale is famous for its excellent mountain bike trails. There’s the opportunity to keep it safe and simple with reasonably flat family-friendly routes, or get rough and ready on the severely difficult Black MTB Trail! There are short 2-mile forest cycling routes, as well as longer-distance options such as the 14-mile Silurian Way, which takes in much of Grizedale’s famous artwork.
You’re welcome to bring along your own bikes to explore if you’re already a keen cyclist. Or you’ll find bike hire at Biketreks, as well as an outdoor clothing shop and a service centre if you face any problems with your two-wheeler.
There are many cycling trails in the Lake District, and you can discover even more routes to try out in the national park in our guide.
Go Ape Grizedale Forest
Adventure seekers, fear not, there’s plenty here for you too! There are five fabulous Go Ape adventures at Grizedale, including a Treetop Challenge, Zip Trekking Adventure, and even forest Segway tours!
Kids and adults alike will feel their adrenalin pumping as they clamber into the canopy and zoom by the trees. Also read our guide to even more outdoor activity adventures you can enjoy in the Lake District.
Walking in Grizedale Forest
With so much space, you can well imagine the number of wonderful walks in Grizedale along with walks in the wider Lake District. So varied are the routes, that you can pick something that suits you perfectly: from riverside rambles to hill climbs, a tarn trail and routes with mountain views.
One of the most special things about Grizedale Forest walks is the sculptures dotted amongst the trees. Each route will take in part of the art trail, or you can do one that leads you from sculpture to sculpture until you’ve seen them all. See how many you can count!
Running in Grizedale Forest
If you want to pick up the pace, Grizedale is also the perfect location for a jog or a full-out sprint - as you prefer! Take some personal time and run alone or with friends under the welcoming shade of the trees, or join an annual running event.
There’s a Grizedale half marathon and a full marathon - the Grizedale Trails - taking place every October. These runs wend their way through the trees from the visitor centre for 13 and 26 miles respectively. Not for the faint-hearted, but a fabulous challenge!
Grizedale Forest play area
Kids will be in absolute heaven in the play area at Grizedale Forest with so much on offer. Like many other attractions here, the play area has great appeal.
There’s plenty of space to mess about and really let off steam (if they still have any left!). Parents, grandparents and guardians can relax in the meantime and munch on a snack or two on the picnic benches.
Stargazing in Grizedale Forest
Grizedale Forest has been named by Go Stargazing as a good place for stargazing in the Lake District thanks to its dark skies and low levels of light pollution. That means your exploration doesn’t have to stop at sunset: you can continue on into the night and see the woodland from a completely different perspective.
Hang about as the trees come alive with night-time critters and look out for special stargazing events organised by Forestry England.
Fell Pony Adventures
Relax and meet some lovely ponies on a day trek with Fell Pony Adventures. It’s a chance to learn about old packhorse ways while you stroll through the forest with your new companion, spot art sculptures, and refresh with a home-cooked picnic next to Grizedale Tarn.
Pubs and cafés near Grizedale Forest
There are plenty of spots where you can enjoy a picnic: be it by a tarn or in a secluded spot under the trees. But if you didn’t bring your munchables with you, then the Grizedale Forest Café has you covered with snacks, lunches and breakfasts available throughout the day.
There are also some brilliant pubs near Grizedale Forest, particularly The Eagles Head, a friendly food pub with options to eat inside or out. You’ll find more pubs and cafés in the nearby village of Hawkshead too.
Grizedale Forest sits between the popular lakes of Windermere and Coniston Water in the Lake District. The gateway village is Hawkshead.
Grizedale Forest parking is ample, with several locations to choose from. The Visitor Centre and Kennels car parks are the main ones and are free for 20 minutes, or paid if you stay longer. Machines accept both card and cash (no change given), and payment is on exit. The maximum charge is £8 for the whole day. There are six accessible parking spaces at Grizedale Forest.
Alternatively, the Moor Top and Bogle Crag car parks are currently free to park in. These are both smaller car parks about 1.5 miles (by road) from the visitor centre and are convenient for a number of walking and biking trails.
There is no public transport available directly to Grizedale Forest. It’s possible to take a bus to Hawkshead from either Coniston (Stagecoach) or Lake Windermere (Mountain Goat, via ferry from Bowness-on-Windermere). You can then follow a cycling route from Hawkshead to the forest.
Holidays in Grizedale Forest and Hawkshead
With so much to see and do, why not place yourself in the heart of the action with a stay in one of our holiday cottages in Grizedale Forest and nearby Hawkshead? From cosy cottages for couples to fun-filled retreats for the whole family, you're sure to find the perfect staycation within our collection of self-catering accommodation.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.