Forestry Commission logo

Seat How Summit Trail
(Average user rating: unrated unrated)

Trail details

Grade of Trail:

  • Demanding

Trail Waymarking:


Length of trail:

3.5 miles

Trail is currently open

Whinlatter walking map


Trail description

This circular walk takes in spectacular views of both Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite Lake as well as the Skiddaw and Helvellyn mountain ranges. Climbing to 500m through forest and heather moorland, this trail is one of the treasures of Whinlatter Forest.

Start the trail at the rear of the Visitor Centre and follow the green waymarkers.

Please refer to the walking map for the route and location of Junction numbers mentioned below.  Further information and advice is available on site in the Visitor Centre.

The Forestry Commission was formed by the government in 1919, in response to a timber shortage following World War 1, with a sole aim to create a strategic reserve of timber. Whinlatter forest was one of the first acquired and some of the trees you see on the trail were the first plantings in 1920. Little was known about which species of conifers would thrive at such a high altitude site so a process of trial and error was employed resulting in a very varied mix of species being planted.

A Forestry Commisison guide to identifying forest trees is available from the Visitor Centre for 50p.

Comb viewpoint, Whinlatter ForestA short distance from the Visitor Centre the trail reaches Comb Viewpoint, take a moment to soak up the view.  You’ll see Skiddaw to your left, moving round to Latrigg, Keswick, Derwent water, Borrowdale valley and Helvellyn in the far distance.

Whinlatter contains a thriving population of red squirrels, and was designated one of the 17 red squirrel reserve woodlands in 2005. Forestry Commission and Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE) are working in partnership at Whinlatter and in the surrounding landscape to ensure red squirrels continue to thrive. 

RED SQUIRREL.You may be lucky enough to spot these elusive creatures as you walk the trail but also look out for evidence such as nibbled cones or dreys (nest balls found high in the canopy close to the trunk).





Horsebox crossroads – junction 2

Horse extraction of logsGiven its name from the time when felled trees were extracted using horses.  This location is where the horses were stabled. This method was used from the first felling in the 1940s, through to the 1980s when full mechanisation of the process was introduced.

Grisedale Pike part of Whinlatter Forest Park
Take a seat on the bench and you can see the summit of Grisedale Pike across the valley.  The forest is located in a classic glaciated landscape, with the slopes of Grisedale Pike providing an excellent example of a pyramidal peak.



Tarbarrel Moss – junction 3

When the forest was first acquired extensive fencing of the perimeter was undertaken to prevent sheep from entering. The fence posts were made on site and dipped in tar to preserve them.  These tar barrels were sunk into the ground and this area is still known as tarbarrel moss today.

The path turns to the right here and passes a small quarry on your left– stone from this quarry has been used to create and maintain many of the footpaths in the forest.

Junction 53 – The route now turns off the main track onto a smaller path heading towards more open area of moorland.  Listen out for the red grouse which inhabit the nearby Ullister hill.  Heather provides important habitat for the grouse and the best times to hear them are winter and spring.

Summit – On reaching the summit you are at the highest point in the forest and will be rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding fells.

Male and female Scottish crossbills at nestReturn to the path and begin your descent through an area of Scots pine.  Look out for Crossbills flitting around the tops of the trees in groups.  Crossbills are perfectly adapted to the conifer forest, their bill is crossed at the tip to extract small seeds from inside conifer cones.

As the trail continues to descend it enjoys open views across to Skiddaw, Dodd Wood and Bassenthwaite Lake.  Dodd Wood is the home of the Lake District Osprey project.  Ospreys were persecuted to extinction as a breeding bird in Britain in the 1800’s through egg collecting and shooting.

Tweed Valley osprey chick In the 1950’s they returned to Scotland then in the late 1990’s passage birds to Scotland were seen fishing on Bassenthwaite Lake. Nesting Platforms were put up around the Lake to encourage birds to stay. In 2000 a pair was seen on one of the nests and in 2001 had their first chick. Ospreys have bred beside Bassenthwaite Lake every year since.

On the final section of the trail, after Junction 14, the area on the opposite side of the valley is known as Hospital fell.  The building that is now Cottage in the Wood was used as a Diptheria hospital in the second half of the 19th century. Prior to the Forestry Commission acquiring the forest there was a conifer plantation on hospital fell, established to improve the air quality for patients recovering in the hospital.

View of Whinlatter forest including a walking trail


Whinlatter forest is managed by the Forestry Commission for people, wildife and timber.  The way the Forestry Commission manages the forest on behalf of the nation by balancing the three priorities in a sustainable way ensures it will remain essential for people, wildlife and timber for the future.








Please tell us about your visit

Please email us at if you have an enquiry, a complaint or would like a personal reply to your comments.

Email addresses will not be shown

What's Here?

  • Trail (hard)


OS Grid ref: NY209245
Postcode: CA12 5TW

Get directions


Related documents

Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification certifiedenjoy England quality assured visitor attractionForest Stewardship Council certified

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.