More about Great Knott Wood

We’ve been thinning the conifers to allow light to reach the woodland floor and spark the dormant native flora into life. (Photo: WMTL/A. Cogan Barber)

This beautiful ancient woodland site occupies a stunning spot on the south west shore of Lake Windermere. It’s home to the iconic red squirrel, and has a long and fascinating industrial history. Currently a mix of conifers and pockets of native broadleaves, the woodland is in the process of being restored to its former glory.

For centuries, Great Knott was a working wood providing timber to make the charcoal that fuelled iron and gunpowder production, as well as bobbins for cotton mills and oak bark for leather tanning. Relics of its industrial past can still be seen today – the circular platforms where charcoal hearths once stood, and the moss-covered ruin of a bark-peeler’s hut peeking out from the undergrowth. Also look out for the old coppiced beech with more than thirty new stems sprouting from its huge base.

Walk its extensive network of paths – they can be steep and stony so you’ll need sturdy footwear – and look out for shy roe or red deer hiding among the trees, and red squirrels scampering through the branches. In spring, where native broadleaves still stand, the woodland floor is a carpet of bluebells speckled with the white of wild garlic and wood anemone. It’s also a good time to hear the resonant drumming of the great-spotted woodpecker.

Geocache Trail

For those who like to spice up their woodland visits with an adventure, Great Knott's Geocache Trail is sure to please. Allow an hour and download the Geocache Trail map to take with you. As you follow the trail, take in the scenery and make sure you visit each of the surprises. Along the way you will discover some of the great work that is going on in Great Knott, from sensitive restoration to improved paths and access, and learn about the wood's history and the importance of ancient woodland.

Restoration

Since the Trust acquired the woodland in 2004, we’ve been thinning the conifers to allow light to reach the woodland floor and spark the dormant native flora into life. Don’t be surprised if you come across logging teams of heavy horses working the steep slopes – it’s the most environmentally friendly way to get the job done.

As time goes by, the wood will again become dominated by native flora, making it a magnet for local wildlife. It’s well worth returning time and time again to watch this miracle of woodland regeneration unfold.

Setting

Great Knott Wood is a 42ha (103.8-acre) site on the south west shore of Lake Windermere at Lakeside, 3.2km (two miles) north of Newby Bridge. It lies within the Lake District National Park.

OS Explorer 7; OS Landranger 97, grid reference: SD369872

Getting there

By bus
The 538 bus from Ulverston to Haverthwaite stops at Lakeside on Thursdays only. The 618 from Barrow to Ambleside stops on the main road at Newby Bridge. From Kendal, the X35 runs regularly to Barrow and stops at Newby Bridge.

By train and boat
You can also reach Lakeside village by steam train on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, or via a boat cruise on Lake Windermere. See Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway or Windermere Lake Cruises for timetables.

By car
Leave the M6 at junction 36, and from the roundabout take the first exit onto the A590 (to Kendal, Barrow). At Brettargh Holt roundabout, take the first exit onto the A590 (to Barrow). At Meathop roundabout, take the second exit onto the A590 (to Newby Bridge). At Newby Bridge, take the first exit at the roundabout to continue on the A590, then take the first right to Lakeside. The wood is on the left as you enter the village.

Access and walks

There are two access points from the main road in Lakeside: one to the north just below The Knoll Guest House, and one to the south where there is a kissing gate. There is a third entrance from the public footpath from Finsthwaite at the north western corner of the wood, where there is a step stile and a bench.

The wood has an extensive network of paths that link with footpaths in the surrounding area, providing an excellent choice of circular walks taking in the villages of Lakeside and Finsthwaite. The paths within the wood are steep, generally stony and can be muddy in places in the winter. There are two routes waymarked by the Lake District National Park Authority: the permissive path to Pennington Lodge Tower or Finsthwaite Tower on Summer House Knot, and the permissive route where the wood is adjacent to the road.

Follow the signs or use our map to take the geocache trail.

Wildlife

Currently, roe and red deer, red squirrel and great-spotted woodpecker can be found in the wood. The restoration to native woodland means that many more species are likely to the make the wood their home in the future.

Local amenities

Public conveniences
There are toilet facilities on the station platform.

Refreshments
There are several places to eat nearby, including at the Lakeside Hotel. tripadvisor has a comprehensive list of restaurants.

Accommodation and tourist information
There is a range of accommodation in the area. For ideas visit tripadvisor.

There are a number of local visitor attractions, including Windermere Lakeside Steamer terminal, Aquarium of the Lakes and the Lakeside to Haverthwaite steam railway. For further information, visit The Cumbria Directory or contact the National Park Visitor Centre at Windermere (015394 46601).

Looking to extend your adventure with a holiday in the great outdoors? Whether you’re glamping, camping or caravanning, our partner Freedom To Go can help you find the perfect pitch.

Entry into our woods is free but please donate now to help us care for them.

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