Visit Whinlatter Forest
Whinlatter is England’s only mountain forest and is a great day out for all the family. Just a short drive from Keswick, this mountain park features walking and cycling paths, with a visitor centre and café, children's playground, and wildlife trail. Read on for our guide to visiting Whinlatter Forest.
By bus: Keswick bus station can be found next to Booths supermarket on Tithebarn Street, just a short walk from the town centre. Catch the X5 Gold bus (which runs every 30 minutes) from Stand 1, and get off at Croft Terrace, Braithwaite. From here it is a 2.4 mile walk to the Whinlatter Visitor Centre. From Easter to October, the 77/77A bus (also known as The Honister Rambler) stops at Whinlatter Forest. This is a circular bus service which runs both clockwise and anticlockwise.
By bike: Whether you bring your own bike or hire one when you get here, cycling is a fantastic way to get around Keswick and visit Whinlatter Forest. Cyclewise, which is based in Whinlatter Forest, offers bike hire, with a range of mountain bikes and electric bikes, cycling accessories, and also offers a range of training courses including mountain bike skills, bike maintenance courses, and family mountain bike skills. To get to Whinlatter Forest from Keswick, cycle along the A5271 until you get to the A66. Then, after about 2 miles, turn left onto the B5292. Continue onto Whinlatter Pass and turn right when you get to Whinlatter Visitor Centre.
By car: Whinlatter Forest Visitor Centre is just west of Keswick and can be reached from the A66. Head west on the A66 and fork left for Braithwaite village on the B5292 Whinlatter Pass. After about 3 miles, you will come to the Visitor Centre and car park. If you’re using a Sat Nav, you can enter this address as your destination: Whinlatter Mountain Forest, Whinlatter Pass, Braithwaite, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 5TW, England.
Whinlatter Forest Visitor Centre is open between 10 am and 4 pm every day of the week and is a great place to start your Whinlatter adventure. The helpful staff in the Visitor Centre can explain more about the park and help you to plan your day. There is also a gift shop in the centre, which sells forest guides to help you find your way around. The visitor centre also contains live cameras to spot both red squirrels and ospreys - whilst the ospreys don’t actually live in Whinlatter Forest and reside across the other side of Bassenthwaite Lake, you can still view them on the cameras! From the visitor centre, you can choose to follow one of the forest’s walking or cycling trails.
Whinlatter has three cycling trails and is home to the longest purpose-built mountain bike trail in the Lake District. You can explore Whinlatter by cycling trail, giving you access to amazing forest views, or take part in mountain bike orienteering using a combination of forest roads and the Quercus mountain bike trail.
Walking and Running
You can enjoy some stunning views from the walking paths in Whinlatter. There are nine walking trails offering beautiful panoramic views across Bassenthwaite Lake, Keswick, and Derwentwater. According to the Whinlatter trail map, there is one “easy” walking trail, five “moderate” walking trails, and three walking trails which are classed as “strenuous”, so whether you want a peaceful walk through the forest or want to try a more challenging hike, there’s a trail to suit everyone.
Whinlatter Forest now has two new running routes, one being 5km and the other being 10km, as well as the Whinlatter Forest Parkrun, which has been named as the hilliest Parkrun in the country! On this run, whether you’re an absolute beginner or a seasoned runner, everyone is welcome.
Go Ape Tree Top Adventure
Whinlatter Forest is also home to Go Ape, a high energy treetop adventure. Tackle zip wires, rope ladders, and swings 14 metres above the ground. At a total length of 601 metres, and the longest zip wire reaching 89 metres, this is a perfect activity for adrenaline junkies who want to enjoy a birds-eye view of the forest as they swing through the trees.
Minimum age: 10 years
Minimum height: 1.4m (4ft 7”)
Maximum weight: 20.5 stone (130kg)
Go Ape Forest Segway
The Go Ape Forest Segways let you explore Whinlatter forest by easily tackling the trickiest of paths, travelling on all terrains and getting to some amazing vantage points, with views of the Lakes from Helvellyn to Skiddaw. Cruising through the forest at an average speed of 10mph, this fun activity can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Minimum age: Suitable for all ages.
Minimum weight: 7 stone (45kg)
Maximum weight: 19.5 stone (125kg)
For more information on Go Ape Whinlatter click here.
Fun For Kids
Whinlatter has a fantastic WildPlay trail for children, a 600m long trail consisting of 9 different play zones. Your little ones will love the giant climbing wall and climbing frame, rope bridge, slide, Archimedes screw and splash pumps, and might even find a secret path leading to a fairy kingdom. There are also two children's discovery trails which will help them to explore the forest - see if they can spot any of the rare local wildlife, like red squirrels.
The Zog activity trail sees the beloved children’s character brought to life: collect stars along the trail as you head on a journey with Zog and other familiar characters from the story.
You might spot another familiar face as you explore the forest - there are a number of Gruffalo sculptures at Whinlatter, so you can see the Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s Child, as well as other characters from the book. Ask at the visitor’s centre for some clues to find your way along the Gruffalo Sculpture trail.
Food and Drink
Pop into Siskins Café, open from 10 am - 5 pm daily, at Whinlatter Visitors Centre to enjoy wholesome food, great coffee and homemade cakes. There’s also a picnic area if you’d like to bring your own packed lunch and a BBQ area which is really popular in the summer months.
The importance of accessibility is widely recognised throughout the Lake District, and Whinlatter Forest is no exception. All-terrain mobility scooters (Trampers) are now available to hire from Whinlatter Forest, part of Lake District Mobility.
This allows people with limited mobility to access the stunning forest trail, which offers wonderful views of the forest and the fells. Users will be given a short induction, showing them how to properly operate the Tramper. You can click here to find out more about hiring a Tramper for your trip to Whinlatter Forest.
We hope you’ve found our guide to Whinlatter Forest useful. If you want to find out more about Whinlatter, or Forestry England which manages the forest and is celebrating its centenary this year, visit the Whinlatter Forest website here.