Tarn Hows Walk

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Date: 14th October 2005.


Starting Point: Grid Reference SD 326996. Car park at Tarn Hows, three miles north-west of Hawkshead.


Route: Tarn Hows c.p. - Wharton Tarn - Rose Castle Tarn - High Arnside Tarn - Tarn Hows - Tarn Hows c.p.


Distance: 6 miles.  Ascent: 350 feet.  Time Taken: 3 hours 30 minutes.


Weather: Dry and fresh.


Accompanied By: Annette


Route Map & 3D View


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Today's walk started from the car park close to Tarn Hows but the visit to which would be saved until last. Our first objective was Wharton Tarn.

We left the car park via a grassy path climbing gently through the bracken with views of Tarn Hows improving as we gained height. There were also great views of the Langdale Pikes in the distance looking as splendid as ever.

Continuing along the grassy path we passed a damaged dry-stone wall where Annette took the opportunity to try her hand at repairing it by replacing a couple of the fallen stones. After a short distance the path led us to the edge of some trees eventually descending through the wood to a gate leading into a field. A second gate, a few feet away and on our right, lead us through a wall and on to Wharton Tarn (SD 331988) which was now visible ahead of us.

Sometimes referred to as High Cross Tarn, it is set in an open field close to the edge of the forest and offered reasonable access for photo opportunities and was easy to locate. It is a lovely, secluded spot and an ideal place to rest. Having said that, the tarn has also been known as Jenny Green-teeth Tarn after an old lady who is supposed to haunt it!

Retracing our steps back to the gate, we now followed the waymarks across open fields heading towards Hawkshead Hill. The path brought us to a lane where we turned left and followed it for a short distance until reaching a turn-off to our right heading up towards Sawrey Ground. Passing in front of a whitewashed cottage, we continued through a gate crossing over a small field to the edge of a wood where we then veered right, across another field to a gate leading onto a road. Here we turned left following the driveway passed the Yewfield Hotel and between the houses, uphill to another gate and onto a forest road.

Crossing the forest road a stile on our right lead into more fields where, after a short distance, we reached the isolated Rose Castle (I wonder if it belongs to my family!) Its a lovely detached house, if a little remote, and had lovely slate slab floors and what looked like the original gas lamps hanging from the ceiling. I understand that an elderly lady used to live here and was actually in the property when it was struck by lightning. She was apparently badly burned and seven sheep were also killed who were close to the building when the lightning struck. The whole gable end had to be re-built.  A sign on the front of the building stated it now belongs to the National Trust.

Leaving Rose Castle the path headed right, downhill towards Tarn Hows. The views of Tarn Hows were glorious from here and we just had to sit for a while to absorb such beautiful scenery. Knowing we would be visiting Tarn Hows at the end of the walk, we forced ourselves away from our resting place and followed the path down to eventually reach Rose Castle Tarn (NY 334002).

The tarn, surrounded by dense woodland, is set in the Rose Castle Plantation and, although close to Tarn Hows, is higher and a completely separate tarn. It is retained by a small concrete dam and a stream flows from it into the larger tarn. Again, access is reasonably good and was easy to locate although it was very marshy at its edges. There is a wooden jetty of sorts which has seen better days. There is also a chalet close by overlooking the tarn and which apparently is used by the Scouts organisation. Behind the chalet Annette found a rope hanging from a tree with a wooden branch tied to its end, and we couldn't resist swinging about on it!

Our route continued beside Tarn Hows with great views along the way, to eventually reach the main path running round the northern end of the tarn. We became slightly 'directionally challenged' at this point but eventually got back on track and, crossing a footbridge over a tiny stream and bearing left, we passed through a gate to a junction and turning right, followed a sign for Arnside and Langdales. We joined the Mountain Road, an old un-surfaced road flanked by stone walls, which eventually brought us to a gate leading to High Arnside Tarn (NY 332012).

Again the tarn is set in beautiful surroundings with trees on one side and distant mountain views on the other. A small concrete wall/dam allows a crossing to be made to the far side of the tarn....if careful! There is also a little rocky outcrop which makes for a great spot, overlooking the tarn. An artificial tarn, it is used by the District Angling Association for fly fishing between March and September. Indeed, whilst there we heard a distinctive 'plop' as a fish broke the surface of the water, probably knowing that we couldn't catch him because it was out of season being October! But, as Arnie would say, 'I'll be back'.

We now had to retrace our steps, back along the Mountain Road to the junction close to our final tarn of the day, Tarn Hows (NY 328999).

Tarn Hows is quite a popular tourist attraction, especially during the summer months, easily accessible by car and is set in a beautiful location above the valley among rocky ground with some great views of the surrounding Lakeland fells. It is quite a large expanse of water today; however there were originally several small swampy pools here but a small dam was built at the southern end of the tarn which resulted in the merging of the pools into what is seen today. The tarn and its surroundings were landscaped in the 1850's by the Marshall's of Monk Coniston Hall as an extension to their garden. The whole area was also bought by Beatrix Potter in 1950.

We continued to follow the main path round the tarn and on through the trees, to eventually reach the concrete dam at the southern end of the tarn. From here it was just a short stroll back to the car park and the end of a very pleasant day.


Photographs of the walk

Starting our walk from the car park at Tarn Hows

As height is gained, the views open up towards the Langdale Pikes


The grassy path eventually leads through the woods ahead

Annette attempting a bit of dry-stone walling repairs along the way


Yours truly after entering the woods...

...and my better half


The first gate leading to...

...the second gate with Wharton Tarn now visible


Wharton Tarn, our first of four visited today

Another view of Wharton Tarn


 Leaving Wharton Tarn we now headed towards Hawshead Hill...

...following the waymarks across the open fields


At the lane we turned left before...

...after only a few yards, we turned right towards Sawrey Ground


Passing in front of a whitewashed cottage...

...across a small enclosure...


...through a metal kissing gate...

...we eventually passed by the Yewfield Hotel


On reaching a forest road, we crossed over to the stile ahead...

...where we entered yet another field...


 ...before reaching the isolated building of Rose Castle

It is now owned by the National Trust


Shortly after leaving Rose Castle, we reached Rose Castle Tarn...

 ...and our second tarn of the day


We just had to have a go!

Above Tarn Hows. Would this keep the rain off?


The junction adjacent to Tarn Hows where we turned right towards...

...Arnside and Langdales


The path leading eventually to...

...High Arnside Tarn...


...with a great vantage point and...

...our third tarn of four now reached


Looking back from High Arnside Tarn to the Mountain Road we had just followed and which now we had to retrace our steps back along...

...to reach the popular tarn of...


...Tarn Hows and...

...our fourth and final tarn of the walk


A last look at Tarn Hows from alongside the concrete dam at the southern end of the tarn, before...

...making our way back to the car park a short distance away


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