We have been to the forest often enough, having done Go Ape a couple of times, and followed some of the forest paths, so I was looking forward to tackling the fell, although from reading various walk write-ups, navigation wouldn't necessarily be straight forward.
We parked up at the visitor centre, which was rammed with trail cyclists and Go Apers, heading away from the masses up towards the fell itself. We weren't completely on our own, as the Gruffalo trail was also proving popular with the younger visitors!
AW has a good old moan about the forestation that has taken place on Whinlatter, but for me it feels like the surrounding environment has accepted the spruce trees with grace and dignity and it is an enjoyable Lakeland experience. BUT the forestry commission paths all look alike and as you are surrounded by trees with the occasional glimpse over towards Keswick, it can be quite disorienting.
However once you are out of the forest, Whinlatter takes on a character of its own. Standing somewhat in isolation, it is a quiet backwater of the Lakes, despite being a short walk away from all the action. The heather-clad slopes offer fantastic views of the surrounding North-Western fells.
As it is a fairly gentle ascent, without too much hard work you soon reach the twin peaks of Whinlatter and Brown How, which is a short distance away. The summit ridge makes for fun walking, easy on the feet but with interesting terrain and those unbeatable views.
To get back to the car we retraced our outbound path and before we knew it we were back in the heart of Whinlatter forest, headed towards the visitor centre where a hot drink and scone was waiting with our names on them!