Things to do nearby Low Swinside
Low Swinside is enviably located in the Lorton Valley. It has a spectacular outlook and is perfectly located for climbing the many excellent peaks including Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head, Grasmoor and the Lorton fells.
The farmhouse is on the edge of Whinlatter Forest Park. The forest covers 1200 hectares of high mountain forest, there are many things to do in this Forestry Commission-owned site, to suit all ages and levels of fitness. The forest rises to 790m above sea level, with views into the Lakes and up to the hills of Dumfries and Galloway. The forests are home to many animals including red squirrels and deer.
The Visitor Centre is open all year round and has a shop and tea room. Here you can buy orienteering maps and book guided walks.
The Altura Mountain Bike Trail is the longest purpose-built trail in the Lake District. It is a 19km, “red grade” mountain bike route, suitable for experienced riders with good off-road skills and high levels of fitness. It rises to 500m above Keswick and offers great views of Derwentwater, Bassenthwaite, Helvellyn and Skiddaw. The trail opens in mid-April – check the website for details. There is a CycleWise shop at the foot of the trail, offering bike maintenance, spare parts, clothing and training.
Go Ape! Is the Lake District’s latest outdoor adventure with an activity course of rope bridges, “tarzan swings” and 40m zip slides between trees. It’s open between April and October, 9-5, closed Tuesdays in term time. Whilst Go Ape is eminently suitable for fit children, under 18s are not permitted without supervising adults.
Whinlatter Forest Walks are a network of waymarked forest paths graded by length and difficulty – buy a forest path guide from the Visitor Centre or visit the website. The walks vary from a 4-hour, 5-mile walk up Lord’s Seat, to a 1-hour, 1-mile walk across Revelin Moss. There are even two specially designed children’s trails of half to three quarters of a mile, designed to take 30-45 minutes.
Dodd Wood adjoins Whinlatter and is part of the same Forest Park. It towers above Bassenthwaite Lake and has its own car park, picnic areas, café and toilets. It is also the site of the Osprey viewing point. Based in Dodd Wood, although you can see the osprey nest on webcam at the Whinlatter Visitor Centre. It is open whilst the ospreys are resident, roughly from April until August, form 10am –5pm.
The Lorton Yew
The villages of Low and High Lorton virtually merge, but at High Lorton, nearest Whinlatter Pass, is a 1,000-year-old Yew tree, famously celebrated by Wordsworth:
‘There is a Yew-tree, pride of Lorton Vale,
Which to this day stands single, in the midst
Of its own darkness, as it stood of yore…’ (Wordsworth)
This large, seventeenth-century-with-additions house is as famous for its rhododendron walks as the house itself. The gardens are open 10-5, April to October, but the house has reduced opening hours – 2-5, on Wednesdays and Sundays, and Fridays in August. The house is well known for its literary connections – it houses a collection of the works of Francis Bacon and many letters from Wordsworth, Tennyson, Thomas Carlisle and John Constable. There is live piano music throughout the season. They cater well for children, with a special ‘owl walk’ and history quiz.
The Old Saw Mill Tea Rooms
The tea rooms are on the Mirehouse estate in Dodd Wood. Opening times 10-5 daily. The tea room was a working sawmill until it was converted to its present use in 1981; the walls are hung with saws and the original saw blade is still here. They offer home-made Cumbrian food, hearty enough to satisfy hungry walkers!
Braithwaite village has a village shop, two pubs, the Coledale Inn and the Royal Oak and the Ivy House restaurant. There is a pleasant, 2 ¾ mile walk from the village along Coledale Beck, as far as Force Crag Mine (see below).
The Mine is at the foot of the walk along Coledale Beck, and is now owned by The National Trust. Force Crag Mine was the last metal-working mine in the Lake District, producing first lead and then zinc until its closure in 1991. The mill buildings have been restored, and are now a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Site of Special Scientific Interest, displaying the original ore-refining machinery. Access to the mine is NOT allowed, but The National Trust offers guided tours of the buildings and environs several times a year, which need to be booked in advance. Under 10s not allowed. Contact 017687 74649