I haven’t been able to spend as much time in the Lake District as I would have wanted, but yet my inclination to find places off-the-beaten tourist track, means that when I do visit places I sometimes discover hidden gems or at least places that are not so well-known. Here are my top 5 places you must definately see, even if they are not on your printed guide.
1. Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows was donated to the National Trust in 1930 by none other than Beatrix Potter and is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful places on the British Isles.
For me, there is no one specific element that makes this place beautiful, instead it is a combination of the tarn itself, the pine trees, the spruce-studded island, the natural colours produced and the backdrop of undulating hills. (pictured above)
A trip to the Lakes would not be complete without a walk around the tarn, but be prepared to spend at least an hour here. There are plenty places to stop for a picnic.
2. Grizedale Forest
Squeezed between two giants of the Lakes’ tourist hotspots, Coniston Water and Windermere is Grizedale Forest. A perfect place for a family day out if you want to give the lakes a break. The dense forest found here makes way for children’s activities, such as zip-wire rides; picnic areas, walks and cycle trails (5 signposted routes, bike hire is available on-site), not to mention examples of oak, spruce, pine and larch trees as well as wildlife; I have been told red deer can be occassionally seen.
3. Via Ferrata
England’s only Iron Way. Via Ferrata is a system pioneered in the Italian Dolomites originally used to get soldiers and military equipment across ‘difficult’ mountain terrain. The system entails a fixed cableway and clip-on harness that in the Lakes’ industrial past took miners to new areas to mine.
Today, it takes thrill-seekers along the old route via an exposed face of the mountain, several ladders and supports to the top of Fleetwith Pike, standing at 648 metres above sea-level.
It’s already in my list of things to do in 2013! Want to join me? Check out more information on http://www.honister-slate-mine.co.uk/via_ferrata_at_honister.asp
4. Aira Force
A few miles north of Glenridding on the A592 is Aira Force, a pretty waterfall that drops seventy-foot. Whilst doing my background research into Aira Force, many believe it to be the prettiest in the Lakes, as I have not been to all so I cannot give you my opinion on this, but I can assure it is well worth the visit. We were recommended to go early in the morning by the campsite owner to avoid a throng of people, and if you have the time, I in turn would recommend to take the walk further up the valley to High Force and Dockray before making your way back.
Close to Aira Force is the District’s 2nd longest lake, Ullswater. A stretch of water that meanders like a serpent with one of the highest peaks in the area, Helvellyn, overlooking. Just north of St Patrick’s Boat Landing, is one of the Ullswater steamers stations with departures across the lake. Steamers have been ferrying passengers around the lake since 1859 and continue to be a popular way for visitors to get to see the lake’s charm close up. For more information on cruising Ullswater, please visit www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk
Please use this link for our full guide to holidays in the Lake District.
Autumn is well and truly here and whilst camping may not be to everyone’s taste this time of year, there are plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy the changing of the seasons. This weekend we ventured out to Salcey Forest .
Here are my top 10 tried and tested family walks for Autumn in the UK :
1. Salcey Forest, Northamptonshire
My personal favourite! The six-mile circular trail follows the edge of the Salcey forest, a medieval hunting forest known for its ancient oaks and beeches. A series of trailside art sculptures have been installed and a short cut that takes walkers to the Treetop Walk, a skywalk that elevates to 70ft in the air and gives views across the forest and surrounding Northamptonshire countryside. They are also in the middle of creating a super Tree Ninja Adventure playground for kids and adults alike.
2. Kings Wood, Cornwall
Near St Austell is a richly varied spread of oak, beech, ash, birch and spruce on the slopes of the Pentewan valley – popular with walkers and riders. A primary path runs through the middle of the wood, with less formal paths branching off either towards the valley top, for views over the area, or down to the wet woodlands – wear your wellies along the banks of the St Austell river!
3. Sea Palling, Norfolk
A family-friendly walk that takes walkers along the beach from Sea Palling along to Winterton on Sea. It is not a circular walk, so not ideal in that respect, however, if you have young children it is worth following the beach south towards the Great Barn at Waxham and turn back. Those that want to carry on will get a real opportunity to really let the wind blow the cobwebs and enjoy spectacular views across the North Sea.
4. Derwent Valley Walk, Derbyshire
Starting from Fairholmes, this 11-mile circular walk follows a marked route round the famous ‘Dambuster’ reservoirs. The walk is set in heather moorland peppered with beech, rowan, silver birch, spruce and oak trees, which amongst other factors attract a large array of birds, including ravens, crossbills and ospreys.
5. Pepper Wood, West Midlands
There’s an excellent network of walks, ranging from 20 minutes up to 2 hours with young children. Pepper Wood, is the remant of the ancient Forest of Feckenham, and lies close to Wyre Forest near Bromsgrove. The 150 acre site offers a woodland setting in the midst of great oaks, birch and lime. Alders line the valley floor.
6. Pass of Killiecrankie, Perthshire, Scotland
Perthshire is believed to be the area where you will find some of Scotland’s finest woodlands. The Pass of Killiecrankie walk, a four mile walk set in oak woodland along the River Garry, is possible one of the finest. The riverside trail, which starts at the visitor centre leads to the shores of Loch Faskally. You can end your walk at Pitlochry, or continue along the circular Bealach walk, which brings you back to Killiecrankie. The birch, rowan, aspen and ash trees that adorn the walk will certainly give you a taste of autumn.
7. Ullswater, Lake District
This is one for the families with children aged 11 and upwards, it is easier than the walk at Scafell Pike, but still offers a challenge. Starting at church near Howton, this 10-mile circular walk takes you along the shores of Ullswater for part of the way and up in woodland sorrounding the 657m, Place Fell peak. Follow paths and narrow roads to Martindale, then bear right towards Patterdale, before heading towards the shores of Ullswater and following the twisting path to Sandwick and then back to Martindale.
8. Attenborough Nature Reserve, Nottinghamshire
Another family-friendly nature reserve near Nottingham was opened in the 1960′s by Sir David Attenborough. The walk is nearly 4 miles long, has wide paths and can even accommodate pushchairs. It takes visitors from pond to pond for nearly two hours and is perfect for bird watching in Autumn and Winter, including, according to the visitor centre, two fish-eating birds, the goosander and the merganser.
9. Ystwyth Valley, near Aberystwyth
This walk is set in the grounds of Hafod Uchtryd and occupies 500 acres of the Ystwyth valley. There are many huge beeches, red oaks and larches (the only ‘conifer’ to change colour) that line the walks. My favourite is the short(ish) Gentleman’s walk, which climbs to offer great views over the valley. Much work has been carried out in recent years to restore the many of original walks, which date back to the 18th century. Start your walk at the Church car park.
10. Dove Crag walk, Northumberland
Another 4-mile circular walk at Holystone that will take you through stunning Autumn scenery. The walk is set in the Northumberland National Park and follows a path through oak woodland before climbing to moorland. Here you will find oak, birchwoods and larches. Also look out for birds of prey and red squirrels.