Stats: 10.5 miles and 1980 feet of ascent
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Toilets at Swirls car park. In season, there’s usually an ice-cream van on the lakeside car park but be careful about crossing the A591.
An undulating trundle through the forests followed by a gentle bimble round the lakeside road. The road carries very little traffic so is suitable for reasonably biddable children. If they can spell “circumnavigate” they’re probably old enough to do this ride.
1. Set off up the diagonally-sloping track heading south from the car park. Keep an eye out for Red Squirrels as you go.
A quick anecdote of a rather less pleasant nature – I once made a grisly discovery in these woods. Someone had left a fertiliser bag by the side of the trail. When I looked inside, I was confronted with an assortment of pig parts including two heads and several legs complete with trotters. I reported the find to Cumbria Police but I still can’t imagine what would possess someone to despoil such a place with such a hoard.
2. Follow the track, with a few ups and downs, for about four miles until you come to the end of the trees. Zag down to your right and cross the A591 with care.
3. Take the minor road all-round the western shore of Thirlmere until you come to the dam.
4. Turn right and follow the busy road for just a couple of hundred yards then turn right into a wooded track. This will take you along the woodside back to Swirls. Re-cross the A591 back to the start. Now treat the kids to a cream tea!