World rock climbing prodigy and Lake District lad, Leo Houlding, is to unveil the new £6 million visitor facilities on the Forestry Commission estate at Grizedale Forest, near Ambleside in Cumbria on Friday 18 September.
Leo, 28, who grew up in the Lake District, is well known for his adrenaline energy packed exploits and can be found participating in almost any high-risk and high-adventure activity.
After six years in development, outdoor lovers can now look forward to a new 21st century visitor experience at Grizedale, complete with modern information centre, improved educational facilities, café, shop, North Face Mountain Bike Trail, bike hire centre and the popular high-wire assault course – Go Ape!
At the launch, Leo will be showing off his outdoor adventure skills and highlights of Grizedale’s new outdoor facilities by completing a special challenge.
Leo Houlding, who has a true love for life, wild places and the extreme, says:
“This exciting revamp of Grizedale’s facilities is continuing to build its reputation as a world-class venue for adventure, with an even greater range of outdoor activities on offer.
“The Grizedale Project is a great example of how the Forestry Commission and its partners are working hard to meet the expectations of today’s visitors in a way that is environmentally and socially sustainable.”
The programme of sustainable changes at Grizedale is designed to improve the quality of the visitor experience and support the local economy.
Chairman of Forestry Commission, Lord Clark of Windermere, and Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive of the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA) will also be lending their support to the Grizedale Project and speaking at the launch.
Steven Broomhead, Chief Executive of the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), which invested £2.6m into the project, said:
“As one of the top four attractions in the Lake District with 250,000 visitors each year Grizedale makes a significant contribution to the rural and visitor economy.
“Our investment into this project aims to build on Grizedale’s success with a high quality visitor attraction that will attract more visitors to the area, whilst complementing the unique qualities of the forest and surrounding area, and will ensure that Grizedale remains a “must-see” regional and national visitor attraction.”
Andrea Runkee, Adventure Capital Project Manager for Cumbria Tourism, who supported the Grizedale Project, says:
"We’re delighted to see this tremendous level of investment in improving what is one of the area's best ports of call for adventure which provides us all with new reasons to visit Grizedale.
“It’s a spectacular asset to the adventure and cultural industries of Cumbria, and a shining example of how tourism can work sympathetically alongside the sensitive Lake District environment."
Grizedale’s forest based art programme ‘Art Roots Grizedale’ is also aiming to inspire and engage people with the development of art in Grizedale Forest and forge new links between contemporary visual art, sculpture and the forest environment.
The Grizedale Project has been made possible by grants from the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), Cumbria Vision, the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund North West Action Plan Partnership, the Lake District National Park Authority Sustainable Development Fund and Defra Rural Enterprise Scheme.
In developing the Grizedale Project, the Forestry Commission has placed a high priority on safeguarding and enhancing the environment, protecting the special qualities of the area.
The project will also help rural businesses achieve long-term year round financial sustainability by encouraging visitors to stay longer, spend more per visit, and extend visits during the spring, autumn and winter seasons.
The ‘Grizedale Wanderer’ bus allows visitors to leave their cars at home by offering new service to the south of Grizedale, terminating at Haverthwaite and connecting with the X35 Barrow to Kendal bus route.
Grizedale is an important part of the local economy, supporting more than 200 jobs in the South Lakes area. The project will help safeguard and create new jobs at the forest.
More information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/northwestengland