Sculpture in the Forest


Grizedale Forest lies to the east of Coniston Water and south west of Hawkshead. Owned by the Forestry Commission (still state owned thanks to the campaign that stopped the ConDem Government from partially privatising it – for now, at least). It’s  a mix of pine forest and broadleaf woodland extending over hills and valleys. There are marked walking and cycling trails through the woods of varying difficulty.


We drove the short distance over to the forest, parking at the visitor centre, on the first full day of our holiday, which turned out to be a fine and generally sunny day. Ideal for walking. One of the attractions for us was the 40 or so sculptures that are scattered throughout the forest. Art works started to be installed in 1977.  In most cases (but not all) they use natural materials such as wood, stone and earth, and can be considered to be examples of “Land Art”. We visited some 30 years ago and enjoyed wandering through the woods locating the various sculptures. Many of those made from natural materials have degraded over time, but newer ones have been installed over the years.


Arriving late in the morning we followed one of the shorter, easier trails starting at the visitor centre which wanders around and under the “Go Ape” tree adventure course, before returning to the cafe to get something to eat. We only spotted a couple of works (there may have been another, but we didn’t locate it).

Boat Race by Keith Wilson:


After eating we looked around the very interesting photographic exhibition – ATKINS CIWEM Environmental Photographer of the Year 2014 – in the Visitor Centre before setting out for another walk. First of all we followed the Ridding Wood trail, probably the easiest, which has a good concentration of art works



Larch Arch (1990) by Jim Partridge & Liz Walmsley, :


Stag Herd Roof by Andy Frost:



Clockwork Forest by greyworld – a world renowned arts group that make art for public spaces:



We carried on through the woods linking up with the longer and more strenuous Bogle Crag trail. The art works were more thinly spread out.

Light Column by Charles Grey Bray:



Cloack of Seasons by Walter Bailey:



These two rather sinister steel sculptures comprise Mea Culpa (2006) by Robert Bryce Muir:



Information on the works was quite sparse. We bought the trail map from the Visitor Centre (it can also be downloaded from the net) which gives a rough indication of the location of many, but not all, of the art works, but no details are provided on the artists. There were some photographs at the Visitor Centre with some details and also on the Big Art Mob website, but not all the works are included and even then details on the artist and individual works are not always available.  That didn’t spoil the experience – it was enjoyable hunting out the art – but it would be good to be able to locate more information after the visit (not that I could have done that until after the holiday given the lack of Internet access where we were staying!!).

We only saw a small proportion of the works. They are too widely spread out over the forest to get round them all in a day and some of them are in locations that are relatively difficult to access. So there is an incentive for another visit – after all it’s less than a couple of hours drive from home. And although not all the family will necessarily agree, combining viewing some art with a walk through the forest is an enjoyable experience. I don’t think I’ll wait another 30 years.