Multipurpose Woodlands

Center Parcs, Whinfell Forest, Cumbria

Center Parcs Whinfell holiday complex was established in 1996 and occupies around one third of the Whinfell Forest to the east of Penrith.

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest on the Lowther Estate, Cumbria

RFS Multipurpose Woodlands ‘Duke of Cornwall Cup’ 2013


The 134.5 hectare woodland is managed:

  • for the enjoyment of around 5000 visitors a week who stay in the lodges nestled within mature trees, and cycle, walk and ride the woodland paths and trails
  • as a designated red squirrel refuge
  • commercially for timber by the Lowther and Lonsdale Estate

The woodlands

These are almost exclusively made up of large conifers with a majority of Scots pine but with larch, sitka spruce, Norway spruce, Douglas fir, grand fir, western hemlock and western red cedar all present. Birch and rowan are found in abundance wherever there is light. The site is bounded by a perimeter fence.

A shelterwood continuous cover regime is employed to maintain the diverse nature of the woodland. There is no clear felling, and natural regeneration is encouraged.

The area is managed on a flexible 5 year working cycle with detailed forest planning dovetailing with other Center Parcs management and development plans. The felling gangs are well versed in the requirements of silviculture, and in any one visit to a stand, they can be undertaking thinning, coupe felling and re-spacing natural regeneration in the same day’s work.

Judges were impressed by how thinning and felling can continue as a commercial and revenue, raising operation without disrupting day-to-day activities in the holiday complex. When necessary, holiday village guests are simply excluded for short periods of time in the immediate area of operation.

Managing for wildlife

Much of the flora and fauna is typical of Caledonian pine woods.

The Cumbria Biodiversity Action Plan has been adopted and gives a priority in the hierarchal management system to red squirrels, bats, Lady’s Tresses and newts which take precedence over other biodiversity targets if a conflict arises.

A wetland area that has fewer trees has also been established.

Managing for activities

The woodlands are used as an essential backdrop to the holiday experience, allowing guests to enjoy the romance, wildlife and beauty of a Caledonian pine woodland.

The area is crisscrossed with cycle and walkingtrails. Visitors are encouraged to use the trails, and when thinning or felling activities are being undertaken, trails may be diverted for short periods of time for public safety.


The Duke of Cornwall Cup 2013 was sponsored by

Category judges were Tim Sawyer and RobGuest, who have both held senior posts in the Forestry Commission in England.