Sprout Force at Darling How Plantation
Whinlatter is a very popular local location, with a Go Ape high rope adventure play area, popular family walking trails, including the Gruffalo trails, a large children’s play area, and it is a veritable Mecca for Mountain bikers with miles and miles of technical tracks for the adventurous. However, it’s such a large area, that the woods have been split into several different woodlands, all of them are less popular than the main wood where the visitor's centre is, but as usual, some are quieter than others—such as Darling How Plantation.
I found this area quite by accident and ever since I have been wandering these woods discovering paths that lead nowhere much. If you want a wander with the dogs, on good paths, away from the crowds then this is a good one for you. There is also quite an impressive waterfall and a picturesque, babbling little stream too.
This area of Whinlatter can be accessed either from Lorton or Braithwaite. If you go over from Brathwaite it is after the Visitors Centre car park, go down the hill and the first car park on the right is where you can park for free! A true rarity in the Lakes District these days. Or you can carry on a little further down and there is a layby just after the bridge.
From the layby, walk through the gate and follow the stream. If you’ve parked in the car park then head up the lane until you see a footpath sign on the left, cross this field, go over a stile, and down the steps to the little bridge. There you’ll meet the same path.
Follow the path along the stream, and it’s very straight forward all the way to the waterfall, after a look at the waterfall the adventure starts for a little bit. I just walked and found this overgrown path—it’s a bit of a scramble in parts but well worth the effort and actually a lovely walk through the woodland.
After you’ve looked at the waterfall turn back on yourself and you’ll see a path heading steeply up through the woods before heading back towards the falls and above it. You then get to a fence line and a very narrow path that runs along the top of the waterfall drop. Follow this path down to the stream again. Here I got a little lost the first time, you need to follow the stream. If you look down for the path it soon becomes obvious. Just follow this as it winds through downed trees and narrow areas until it opens up into the forest—you simply follow the path upwards until it meets the main path at the site of a fallen down tree.
Turn right on this main path, then left at the next path, this is steep and a little overgrown, but follow this until you meet the gravel path again then turn left and follow this up the mountain. Keep to this main path for a mile or so until it ends and two smaller paths fork in front of you. The lower path down meets a larger gravel trail all the way back down to the car park.
You can make the walk longer by taking the left-hand fork at the bottom which will take you all the way up to the Wainwright peak, Lords Seat. Though I prefer to summit Lords Seat from Whinlatter Visitors centre, this is still a nice walk. If you’re going further and doing the mountain, I would suggest a map and some basic supplies are needed.
There are other walks in this woodland area if you simply walk up the path from the carpark you can follow the tracks where ever they take you. Sometimes I do this in the woodland as long as you stick to the main gravel paths