Grizedale & Coniston: Adventures by bike & boat!

Grizedale Sculpture Trail - photo credit Tony West Coniston Launch - photo credit Ben Barden Bluebird Café, Coniston Water - photo credit Cumbria Tourism Grizedale Forest Sculpture (photo by Tony West)

Cultural adventures by bike and boat! Search for sculptures and stories in the scenic Grizedale Forest and enjoy adventures by kayak on Coniston Water, with a memorable trip over to ‘Wild Cat Island’.

It’s up early and off to the 8,000-acre Grizedale Forest – to hire mountain bikes and pick up trail maps for a morning’s freewheeling, searching out the sometimes puzzling, sometimes magical sculptures artists have made specially in response to this landscape. Many of the artworks are hidden among the trees, in a place that inspired the artist, and you have to search them out.

The Grizedale Tarn Trail passes through scenic woodland around Bogle Crag. Watch out though – ‘bogle’ means ghost!

Along the way you should seek out the iconic ‘Taking a Wall for a Walk’ by one of Britain’s best-known artists, Andy Goldsworthy – undulating through the trees.

Lady of the Water by Alannah Robins, 1995
Lady of the Water by Alannah Robins, 1995

Halfway round you can take a breather beside the secluded and pretty tarn, with its reeds and waterlilies. The tarn was used as an emergency water supply for Grizedale Hall in the Second World War, at a time when the Hall was being used as an officers’ Prisoner of War camp.

Landing at “The Secret Harbour”, exploring the island, searching for treasure (in the shape of a Geo Cache – ticking off one of the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11 & 3 quarters).

From the Forest, you’ll get glimpses of Coniston Water through the clearings – that’s where you’re headed this afternoon. But first it’s back to the Visitor Centre to return the bikes, and a bite of lunch in the café (they do great Lakeland ice-cream too – as a reward for the cycling).

Then it’s a short drive down to Coniston Water for another fresh-air cultural adventure: a Swallows & Amazon Adventure kayaking to Ransome’s “Wild Cat Island”. In real life it’s Peel Island, towards the southern end of the lake – and the nice folk from Joint Adventures will get you kitted out with kayaks or canoes and take you there, landing at “The Secret Harbour”, exploring the island, searching for treasure (in the shape of a Geo Cache – ticking off one of the National Trust’s 50 things to do before you’re 11 & 3 quarters).

Paddle back up the lake to Coniston for tea and cakes at the water’s edge Bluebird Café – named after Donald Campbell’s famous water-speed.

USEFUL POSTCODES

Grizedale Forest – LA22 0QJ

Bluebird Café – LA21 8AN

Joint Adventures – LA21 8BS

To enjoy these Lakes Culture events and much more, book your break in the Lake District here