Following the change in government restrictions regarding public opportunities for exercise, one of Cumbria Tourism’s Strategic Partners is working hard to ensure people can enjoy woodland areas like Grizedale and Whinlatter Forests, with a focus firmly fixed on the safety of both visitors and staff.

Forestry England says the nation’s forests have never been more important when it comes to supporting the health and wellbeing of the public, many of whom will have spent the last two months under lockdown as efforts to continue to contain the spread of Covid-19.

Mark Holroyd, Head of Recreation and Communications for Forestry England, says, “It’s never been more important for people to get outside and breathe the fresh, countryside air than it is now. While our forests and woodland areas are open, we are, for now, continuing to ask people to only visit if they are from the local area. This will change of course, and we certainly hope to be able to invite people from far and wide sooner rather than later.

“Forestry England has managed the nation’s forests for more than 100 years and sharing these spaces is our passion. Studies have found that just two hours of exercise in places like these have far-reaching physical and mental-health benefits, which the whole population certainly needs more than ever right now.”

Due to Government guidance, children’s play areas at Forestry England’s sites remain closed at this time, along with visitor information desks, cafés and bike hire shops.

Mark continues, “For those who can’t wait to visit, we have re-opened our car parks, toilets and trails at Whinlatter and Grizedale Forests to visitors who do decide to travel. By re-opening these facilities we hope to reduce the impact on communities and particularly see less parking in towns and villages and on verges. But if you can, please do try to hold on a little bit longer if you are travelling from further away to get here.

“As the visitor economy begins to open further we’ll be so happy to share all the experiences we have on-offer here, from mountain-bike trails to Go-Ape, sculpture trails including our Gruffalo-themed trail for the children, to our Park Run at Whinlatter, which we believe is the hilliest one in the country!

“These forests belong to the nation, and they will still be here when this unprecedented situation passes. All we ask in the meantime, is for everyone to do their bit to help save lives.”

Managing Director of Cumbria Tourism, Gill Haigh, says, “Through continued and combined effort, we are all collectively supporting the recovery of the tourism industry. And whilst many businesses remain closed for now, visitors and residents can be assured that they are working very hard behind the scenes to put in place all the measures that will be necessary to enable us all to enjoy responsible tourism holidays here in the county as soon as possible. In the meantime it is great to see how Forestry England is able to provide some limited opening opportunities like this, to help enable people to experience a safe visit and I am certain this will be greatly enjoyed.”

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