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A world of outdoor adventure awaits families visiting Cumbria’s forests during this year’s school holidays.
Children can learn new skills, meet an array of wonderful wildlife and explore miles of pathways and cycle tracks as part of an action-packed summer programme.
Both Forestry Commission's Grizedale Forest and Whinlatter Forest Park will host a series of events designed to get children off the sofa and into the great outdoors to becomemore active and engaged with nature.
Tim Oliver, Forestry Commission head of recreation and public affairs for the north England district, says:
“Never mind virtual games, children can enjoy real-life challenges and adventures in the forests that will stay with them forever. We’ve got survival sessions, high-wire assault courses, wildlife watching, cycle trails and so much more.
“The forests are our natural adventure playground – the perfect untamed environment for kids to run wild and let off some steam in the summer break.”
Mini-adventurers can sign up for Bushcraft Workshops in Whinlatteron 10, 16 and 21 August which will teach children simple survival techniques. The hands-on classes include lessons in shelter building, campfire cooking and fire lighting.
Run by experienced and friendly instructors from Keswick Canoe and Bushcraft, the main focus of the day will be to encourage children to have fun in a natural environment.
There are two sessions at 10am and 1pm, each lasting three hours. Children from age eight can take part and booking is essential.
To mark European Bat Weekend, there will be a Go Batty event in Whinlatter on August 22 from 11am-4pm.
Kids can find out all about Whinlatter’s bat population and enjoy making bat boxes to take home as well as having a go at some batty crafts.
There’s a similar event in store at Grizedale on August 29 when children will be given the opportunity to go on the trail of the forest’s nocturnal inhabitants. Meet at 7.30pm at the visitors centre to join the rangers on this special Going Batty walk.
Children can discover all about woodland bats and have a go at using a “bat detector” to identify what’s flying in the forest at night. The cost is £7.50 per adult and £5 for children and booking is essential.
August is the month when the Grizedale red kite chicks will be released in the forest. 2012 is the final year of the three-year project to reintroduce red kites to Cumbria. Sixty chicks have been released so far and there have been lots of reported sightings.
Both forests are a haven for wildlife. Grizedale is home to the only remaining indigenous woodland herd of red deer in England. There are also roe deer living in the forest and birds include buzzards and barn owls.
And August marks the last chance to visit the Lake District Osprey project at Whinlatter before the chicks are fully fledged and head off on their journey south for the winter. The Bassenthwaite Ospreys can be seen from outdoor viewpoints in the woods.
Other activities for families to enjoy include cycling and walking. There a miles of trails to explore from toddler-friendly routes to the challenging AlturaMountain Bike Trail in Whinlatter which rises to 500m (1600ft) above Keswick.
The Go Ape! attractions at both Grizedale and Whinlatter offer rope bridges, swings and zip slides to bring out the hidden Tarzan in all ages.
And in Whinlatter children can go wild in WhinlatterWildPlay which has nine different play zones linked by a 600m trail including a mini-climbing wall, water features, tyre swing and secret path. It's been created to improve balance, co-ordination, risk taking and team work.
For more information about the forests go to www.visitlakelandforests.co.uk
Bushcraft Workshops, Whinlatter Forest
10, 16 and 21 August
10am-1pm or 1pm-4pm
Workshops to introduce children to the basic skills of bushcraft.
Cost £20. Booking essential – email firstname.lastname@example.org
Go Batty, Whinlatter Forest
Learn all about bats on this bat-themed activity day.
Drop in event with a small fee for some activities.
Going Batty, Grizedale Forest
Discover all the different species flying in the forest skies each night.
Cost £7.50 per adult, £5 per child. Booking essential – cal 01229 860010
Notes to editors
The Forestry Commission is the largest provider of countryside recreation in Britain, with responsibility for more than one million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forest, woodlands and open countryside. The North West England Forest District covers the Lake District in Cumbria, the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Cheshire. The forests are managed for conservation, wildlife, landscape and recreation as well as providing a valuable source of timber.
For more information contact Ian Boydon on 01524 782086.