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  1. First Purpose-Built ‘Black’ Grade Mountain Bike Trail In Cumbria

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    The first purpose-built ‘black’ grade mountain bike trail in Cumbria has been officially opened at the Forestry Commission’s Grizedale Forest. The downhill trail, which is more than a kilometre long, was built by a small team of passionate and dedicated volunteers who are mountain biking enthusiasts, supported by the Grizedale Mountain Bikes team and the Forestry Commission’s recreation ranger. Mountain bike trails are graded by colour in a similar way to ski runs – green, blue, red and black – with black being the most difficult and suited only to experienced riders.

    The black trail adds to the existing mountain biking and cycling trail network at Grizedale, which includes the 16km-long red grade North Face Trail, a plethora of exciting bridleways, several way-marked family bike trails on the forest road system, and the Grizedale Mountain Bikes’ bike hire and shop.

    Katie Jarvis, Forestry Commission recreation ranger at Grizedale Forest, said, “We are now able to offer great trails to suit all levels of riders, from families with children on our forest road routes, the cross-country mountain bikers with the North Face Trail and bridleways, and now the more experienced riders and downhill adrenaline-junkies with the new black route.”

    One great way to enjoy Grizedale throughout the year is by getting a Discovery Pass which also costs far less than a gym membership. For only £40 a year, this entitles you to free parking within the forest, 10% off items in the visitor centre shop, 20% off Go Ape high wire adventure courses on weekdays during term-time and a saving of £24 on adult membership of the CTC (the UK’s national cyclists’ organisation) as well as other benefits.

    For more information about Grizedale, visit For regular updates on Grizedale Forest visit the Grizedale Forest Facebook page. Follow this link to watch a video of the trail  –


  2. National Parks – Promoting And Conserving The Landscape For Walkers

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    Neighbouring national parks in Cumbria and Yorkshire demonstrate two aspects of the work they undertake throughout the year.

    A favourite path for Lake District walkers has finally been repaired and restored, by the Lake District National Park Paths for the Public Project, to the way it was prior to 2009’s record-breaking floods washing away the route in a landslide. The 30m landslide which created a large gap on the bridleway between Gatesgarth and Scarth Gap is now being used by walkers again allowing them to enjoy the fine views over Buttermere. The historical route, which Lake District author and fell guide Alfred Wainwright described as “one of the pleasantest of foot passes”, is regularly used by walkers climbing Haystacks, one of Wainwright’s favourite peaks and his last resting place.

    Although restoring the path was paramount, managing the surface water was as important to ensure that a similar failure didn’t happen again elsewhere along the path.  Contractors eventually came up with the most sympathetic solution which resulted in more than 100 tonnes of materials being recovered from the bottom of the slope to fill the gap. At the same time, slate from nearby Honister Mine was used to create a drain which catches the water and directs it away from the affected area.

    The Visitor 2012 – the latest edition of the free, official guide to the Yorkshire Dales National Park – is now available and it is packed full of information about activities for all ages. There are details of where to go and who to contact if you want to try adrenaline-pumping sports like caving and rock climbing as well as a few words from Bradford’s own climbing legend John Dunne. What makes the Dales the Dales? Discover some of the curious landscape features, myths, dialect words and traditions that make this part of the world so special, including sheep creeps, coin trees and the legend of the devil dog at Troller’s Gill.

    You can take a year-long journey through the National Park in words and pictures, discovering how life unfolds through the seasons in the countryside, and you are invited to ‘go out for the count’, helping the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) and other conservation organisations survey some of the UK’s key wildlife species, while learning about everything from toads and toadstools to bats and butterflies. As always, the paper features an 11-page What’s On guide overflowing with events ranging from guided walks to hands-on activities at the Authority-owned Dales Countryside Museum in Hawes.  And new for 2012 is an accommodation listing which the YDNPA hopes will grow in future years.

    The newspaper can be picked up from Hawes, Aysgarth Falls, Reeth, Malham and Grassington National Park Centres or you can order a copy at There is also an online version to browse in the Tourist Information section of the YDNPA’s website.

  3. Top 5 Lake District Pubs For Hungry Walkers

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    Part of the fun of a winter walk over the Cumbrian fells and summits is looking forward to a warm fire and cheery pint in a Lake District pub. Even better when you can tear into a tasty meal as well. Dress warmly in thermal underwear and be prepared for fast-changing weather. You’ll probably have changed out of your boots when you got back to the car, but if not, be considerate and knock the mud off. Here are a few of our favourite watering holes. For more info on the Lake District check out

    The Bitter End, Cockermouth
    A pub with its own micro brewery where the whole process can be seen through a glazed partition. With open fires, home-made meals and great real ales, this is a top spot to head for. On Tuesdays, there’s a free-to-enter quiz night with a case of beer as the winners’ prize.
    01900 828993;

    Tower Bank Arms, near Sawrey, Ambleside
    Hilltop, Beatrix Potter’s former home, is just behind this pub which can be seen in one of the sketches for ‘The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck’. Dating back to the 17th century, this inn offers quality fresh food and a wide selection of traditional local ales. Children and dogs welcome.
    015394 36334;

    The Drunken Duck Inn, Barngates, Ambleside
    A multi award-winning family-owned inn which serves fine local produce imaginatively prepared and served. The food is complemented by great local beers and a traditional interior with an open fire and Brathay Black slate bar top. Cracking bar meals!
    015394 36347;

    Watermill Inn, Ings, near Windermere
    CAMRA’s Cumbrian Pub of the Year in 2009, there’s a relaxed friendly atmosphere in the Watermill and a micro brewery to boot. There is an extensive menu and a large daily Chef’s Specials board, emphasising traditional dishes.
    01539 821309;

    The Punch Bowl Inn, Crosthwaite
    In the heart of the unspoilt Lyth Valley, close to central Lake District. The inn is a blend of old and new, with excellent food, good beers and wines and a lovely location; the bar is warm and friendly with antique furniture, open fires, polished oak floorboards and  leather chairs.

    015395 68237;


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