Alcock Tarn, Nab Scar, Heron Pike and Stone Arthur

Walk date – 26th May 2023

Distance – about 6 miles

Weather – dry, warm, sunny spells, plenty of cloud, no breeze


No gps map today or precise mileage either as the person in charge of the gps gizmo forgot to put the batteries in and only discovered their absence once we were ready to set off from the lay-by. Our walk today is one that we’ve done several times so it wasn’t a necessity and we always carry an OS map anyway, we didn’t use that either. We’re having a warm, dry, settled spell up here at the moment and there is a definite pattern to the weather:  warm temperatures, bright sunny morning skies which gradually fill with cloud, slight to non-existent breezes and no rain. All in all it has been very pleasant walking weather and today even I started out in shorts and t-shirt.


A591 lay-by at Grasmere – Michael’s Fold – Greenhead Gill – Alcock Tarn – Nab Scar – Heron Pike – Stone Arthur – Greenhead Gill – Michael’s Fold – A591 lay-by at Grasmere

There was a bit of a wait while we waited for the traffic to clear before we could cross the road so I took this shot of Seat Sandal while we waited. Not a cloud in the sky at the moment but we know that will have changed by mid to late morning so we each have a long sleeved lightweight top in our packs just in case the cloud gets really heavy.

We had a fine view of Helm Crag as we walked up the semi-circular lane to Michael’s Fold and the little lane leading up alongside Greenhead Gill.

Walking up the path beside Greenhead Gill towards the footbridge.

The stone pitched path at the other end of the footbridge although it looks as though some walkers don’t care for it and prefer walking up over the grass instead. My memory may be playing tricks on me here but I have a recollection that this path used to be just a simple dirt track many years ago. All the very steep sections of the path now seem to be stone pitched in this manner while the less steep sections are still dirt tracks.

The bench where we always pause and take in the views. The fact that we’re usually gasping for breath at this point is neither here nor there!

A close up shot of the view from the seat area down to the old aqueduct.

Across the gill is Stone Arthur, the last fell on our walk today.

Just before we reach Alcock Tarn we stop at the little grassy area to take in the views. Visibility was rather hazy today so the long distance views were a bit disappointing. Even so we can make out the Coniston fells over on the left skyline then comes Pike O’Blisco followed by Crinkle Crags. We haven’t been walking very long and already the cloud is building.

Just a little further to the right now where, across the vale of Grasmere, we can just about see Bowfell on the centre skyline, followed by the Langdale Pikes, Sergeant Man and High Raise …..

….. and another hazy view, this time of Helm Crag, Ullscarf and Steel Fell on the western side of the A591.

Looking south along Alcock Tarn where a small group of walkers were sitting below us, just out of shot on the right, and who left shortly after we arrived, walked along the path over on the right and disappeared from view behind the small rise at the end of the path. It wasn’t long before they were replaced by a group of three walkers and two dogs. Dog number one was straight in, dog number two just about got its feet wet and then refused to fetch the ball which had been thrown for it. Dog number one eventually obliged and brought back the ball.

When we left the tarn we used the somewhat wetter path on the other side to get to this point where we would cross the wall and follow the path over to Nab Scar. The tarn is in a lovely setting, perched high above Grasmere on a large flat shelf of land and on such a beautiful morning it looked absolutely enchanting. A very tranquil, peaceful place to be this morning.

A look back at the tarn as we made our way over the path to Nab Scar …..

….. which rises gently over the lower slopes of Heron Pike and eventually leads to the little col between it and Nab Scar.

Just before the col we diverted just a few steps away from the path for this view down to Grasmere water and the fells beyond.

Up at the col now and we decided to continue up the path crossing over Nab Scar for just a short distance to …..

….. this high point and although it may not be the actual summit it is certainly higher than the two points below which each have cairns positioned on them. We didn’t bother going over to either of them, the views were murky everywhere today, so …..

….. we re-traced our steps back along the path and made our way up to Heron Pike instead.

A look back towards Nab Scar and Windermere as we made our way up the Heron Pike path. On the extreme right of the shot it might be possible to see the group of walkers who joined us at Alcock Tarn with their two dogs about to arrive at the little col. They eventually passed us with just a quick chat but by the time …..

….. we reached Heron Pike they were nowhere to be seen, neither were they anywhere on the path going over to Erne Crag or climbing up the path to Great Rigg. They just seemed to have vanished.

Maybe they hadn’t intended going further than Heron Pike and just took an off path route from here back down to Alcock Tarn and Grasmere. The path going over to Erne Crag was empty and they weren’t that far ahead of us anyway so that was the best we could come up with.

Steel Fell, over on the left, gets a glimmer of sunlight, but the view ahead of us is quite shaded now that the cloud has built up. There are still plenty of blue patches though so we keep our fingers crossed and carry on over to Erne Crag.

The view back to Windermere and Heron Crag as we make our way over the very undulating ridge path.

We didn’t go over to Erne Crag today and veered off onto the left hand path indicated at the cairn.

Ahead of us the path stretches all the way over to Great Rigg giving us a rather subdued view of it, which together with its neighbours, Fairfield and Hart Crag, creates a big full stop at Rydal Head.

A look back to Erne Crag from the un-named tarn beside the path.

A better view of the dramatic scenery around Rydal Head …..

….. and a peep down into the valley for a view of the oddly shaped sheepfold which always reminds me of an ice-cream cornet.

Further along the path and now we can have both Erne Crag and Heron Pike in the one shot. We took a refreshment break just a little further along from this point during which several walkers, travelling in both directions, came along the path.

We’re on the Stone Arthur path at this point which we began to follow just before the start of the last section of the climb up to Great Rigg. Sunny Dollywaggon Pike and Nethermost Pike are sandwiched between the crags of Seat Sandal (L) and the green slopes of Great Rigg (R).

A look across at some of our ridge route from Heron Pike today as we walk down the Stone Arthur path.

Alcock Tarn and Grasmere come back into view as we make our way down Stone Arthur. Its a pity it is so hazy today as there are a lot of good viewpoints on Stone Arthur.

Despite the murky conditions it was still possible to catch a glimpse of Easedale Tarn over on the left behind Helm Crag.

Something else we always look out for when we are on Stone Arthur, is this stone bield, said to be a fox trap but whether it is or not I don’t know.

Grasmere, the village and the water, from another of the superb viewpoints on Stone Arthur.

Alcock Tarn in the distance as J takes to the grassy path again after…..

….. we had just made our way down from this rock tor. This can be bypassed if you’re not feeling adventurous by using the grassy path out of sight to the right of the shot.

We’re well down the slopes of Stone Arthur now with a view down to the old aqueduct and the footbridge, the bench is on the flatter area above the aqueduct. Huge bags of large stones were lying alongside the path at various intervals further back so some path work is eventually going to take place.

Some work has already started and this section was a little awkward to cross. Crossing mounds of dry and loose soil perched above deep holes in the ground waiting to be filled with suitably shaped stones was a little precarious to say the least. Fortunately this section of ‘a work in progress’ was at the point where the established path turns and runs close by the old stone wall so we didn’t have to deal with it for very long,

On the right of the shot is the old stone wall beside which is the established path just mentioned and which tips us out right beside Greenhead Gill and the double gate leading to the lane down Michael’s Fold.

All we have to do now is stroll back down the lane, turn right at the bottom and carry on until we meet the A591 where the car is parked in the lay-by opposite. The rhododendrons were in full bloom all the way down but I took this shot of the delicate yellow flowers of an azalea as a reminder of today’s walk on a very pleasant late spring day. Fingers crossed that the fair weather lasts just a little while longer so we can get outdoors again before it all goes to pot again.