Autumn is our favourite season in the Lake District. When the leaves start to fall from the trees, the colours are just breathtaking. Forget all the talk about New England in the ‘fall’, we don't think you can rival the Lakes for the warm glow of the russets, reds and golds reflecting in our stunning lakes and tarns and emphasised even more by the early evening sunsets.
At the moment, there's no better place to see the colours in all their glory than Whinlatter Forest Park. From The Pheasant, just head south along the length of Bassenthwaite Lake toward Keswick, turn off the A66 into Braithwaite and follow the beautifully scenic road to reach England’s only true ‘mountain forest’.
Rising an impressive 1,000 feet above sea level, many of the viewpoints within Whinlatter Forest are quite spectacular – opening up expansive vistas over Keswick, Derwentwater, Bassenthwaite, and the Northern fells. With more than 30 miles of forest roads and tracks, Whinlatter Forest offers walking and cycling routes for all ability levels including wheelchair friendly routes. As well as bike hire to try out the Altura Trail – the Lake District’s longest purpose-built mountain bike trail, you can also hire an all-terrain mobility scooter to help reach specific heights. For some real calorie-burning walking with a difference, sign up to one of the new Nordic Walking courses at Whinlatter. It’s a full body workout designed to improve fitness levels for all ages and abilities but has the benefit of being a lot easier on the joints.
For any adrenalin junkies looking to make a day of it, Whinlatter Forest is also home to the popular high-wire ropes course, Go Ape. Don’t leave without trying its treetop challenge with awesome Tarzan Swing where you’ll negotiate high-level assault courses between the trees before propelling yourself at full speed back down to earth. It’s invigorating!
If you haven’t pre-ordered one of The Pheasant’s packed lunches, the dog-friendly Siskins Café in the forest is open daily and worth a visit if only to see some of the wildlife up close. Red squirrels often come to say hello at the windows and lots of bird feeders attract the café’s namesake little finch. Although don’t worry if you miss them from the café, there’s a webcam in the Visitors Centre, which normally shows fascinating live footage of red squirrels at this time of year.