Drawing 75: The Swirls Forest Trail, Thirlmere

Direction of view: Option 1: SSE    Option 2: N

Notes: Commercial forestry plantations are changing environments, and I believe that there is no scene that now corresponds to AW’s drawing.  There are two options, both accessible from Swirls car park: firstly follow the forest road east from the toilet block for 500m; secondly follow a different forest road south from the car park exit for 200m, then turn round.  Either of these could lay claim to best representing the spirit of the drawing.

This sketch does not appear in any other of Wainwright’s published works.

Comments: Decent weather was rare in the summer of 2015, but 19th August was forecast to be fine in the morning, so I arrived at Swirls car park before 9.  I then spent two hours looking for the best match to this sketch, after which I felt confident that I had found the only two viable options.

In his notes on this sketch, Wainwright writes: “There are welcome indications that Manchester Corporation is relaxing its policy of exclusion of the public from Thirlmere, and the opening up of two forest trails in the adjoining plantations is to be commended; informative leaflets are supplied for the greater enjoyment of visitors. The Swirls Forest Trail leads off the A591 near a convenient car park…”

In the early years of the 21st century, selective felling of trees alongside the A591 and the eastern shore created much improved views and a more picturesque environment.  In December 2013, the Westmorland Gazette reported that “United Utilities have rethought plans for Thirlmere Forest in a bid to protect and improve it as a natural habitat….United Utilities foresters will replant to create more native broadleaved woodland in the future”.  In particular, it was reported that larch trees would be felled, since they were currently at risk from disease.