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mountain_bike_dec08_presser_pic_550x200The Forestry Commission is encouraging people in Cumbria to have fun and get fit in the New Year by heading to their local forest for some fresh air and exercise.

The British Dietetic Association, who represent the UK’s professional dieticians, estimate that on average, people gain 5lb in weight in the 4 week Christmas period.  

Experts also believe that January is when people are most badly affected by the winter blues, as they are back at work after the holidays, the days are still short and the bills for Christmas have to be paid.

The Forestry Commission’s Graeme Prest says: 

“Walking or cycling in the forest is much cheaper than going to the gym and it’s a social activity, something you can do with your family or friends.  People also find that just being in the forest and experiencing the sights, sounds and smells makes them feel much more cheerful.”

Cumbria has two of the country’s best forest parks at Grizedale and Whinlatter and both have an extensive range of waymarked routes for walking and cycling.  

There are also many other areas of woodland around the County, so there is no need to travel far to get out among the trees.

Mountain Bike

Mountain Bike

Whinlatter, near Keswick, is England’s only true mountain forest and offers some of the best opportunities for seeing the elusive red squirrels.  

Grizedale, near Hawkshead, is famous for its forest sculptures.  There are more than 60 sculptures by artists including Andy Goldsworthy that can be seen on trails through the Forest.

There are also great routes for mountain biking including the purpose built North Face mountain bike trail at Grizedale Forest.

 In December Mountain Biking UK described the trail as ‘fun riding for all abilities’.

For those who want something even more challenging, there is the new Altura mountain bike trail at Whinlatter, which is ideal for experienced riders with good off road skills and a reasonable level of fitness.

More information about Grizedale and Whinlatter Forest Parks and other Forestry Commission woodlands around North West England can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/northwestengland

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