Bowscale Tarn

Walk Date – 9th March 2017

Distance – 3.8 miles

Weather – sunny but very windy


Its another beautiful day but a very strong wind was blowing so I postponed the walk I had planned for today. Its just not enjoyable walking across the higher fells and battling against gale force winds. I waited until midday since the forecast indicated that the wind would ease later but it didn’t, so obviously midday wasn’t later enough. I wasn’t about to miss the chance to be out in the lovely weather once again so I decided just to do the short walk up to Bowscale Tarn.

Route – out and back (more or less)


01 Carrock Fell behind the little hamlet of Bowscale from the parking area

The parking area is the area of rough ground on the right of the shot and ahead is the little hamlet of Bowscale with Carrock Fell right behind it. I follow the road to the point where it turns sharp right, just before the last house in the photo, and carry straight on up the bridleway which passes right in front of the same house.

02 Carrock Fell from further up the lane

Further up the bridleway beyond Bowscale hamlet with a clearer view of Carrock Fell.

03 On the skyline are Knott, on the left, then the light coloured slopes of High Pike, and in front of them are the slopes of Carrock Fell

The bridleway used to be part of a popular excursion in Victorian times when tourists would be carried up to Bowscale Tarn on ponies. The route travels along the Caldew valley and on the skyline at the head of the valley are Knott, on the far left, then the lighter coloured slopes of High Pike across the middle with the heathery slopes of Carrock Fell over on the right.

04 The River Caldew flowing along the valley bottom

A peep over the wall for a view of the River Caldew flowing along the valley bottom.

05 A closer look at the valley and the river

A closer look at the head of the valley and the river.

06 The long path leading up to Bowscale Tarn

I’m heading up towards Drycomb Beck and the slope in shadow ahead of me is the northern spur of Bowscale Fell which juts out from the east ridge of the fell. The path has been rising gradually but its so steady that you hardly notice it. What was very noticeable was the strength of the chilly wind rushing down the valley and, as is always the case, the nose and eyes were watering constantly. I’m glad I didn’t bother with anything higher today its just not worth the effort in winds as strong as this.

07 A look back down the valley towards Mosedale now that I'm in the sunlight again

A look back down the valley towards Mosedale now that I’m back in the sunlight.

08 The summit of High Pike, to the left, now in view behind Carrock Fell

The summit of High Pike comes into view, over on the left, as I continue to gain height …..

09 A closer look at the summit of High Pike, now over to the right

….. so I took a closer look at it. I bet its a bit draughty up there today.

10 Sheep grazing alongside the path. They were still here when I returned

I didn’t get so much as a baleful look as I passed the sheep, and they obviously liked this particular spot because they were still here when I came back down again.

11 There's still quite a bit of path to walk before the tarn is reached

I’ve crossed Drycomb Beck and rounded the northern spur and the bridleway begins to climb across the moraine slopes below Tarn Crags. Tarn Crags, in the shade over on the left of the shot, are just beginning to appear so I’m not too far away from the tarn now. I’ll be turning up to the tarn before I reach the path rising up to the ridge over to the left.

12 High Pike in close up over on the right

A close up of High Pike summit over on the right but I didn’t see anyone moving about up there.

13 Bowscale Tarn from a little way up the Bowscale Fell track

Eventually I reach Bowscale Tarn. It sits in a glacial corrie and is north facing so it gets little sunlight even during high summer. At its deepest its about 55′ and, according to Wordsworth, is the home of ‘two immortal fish’. Can’t say that I’ve ever spotted any fish in there but who knows what may be lurking in those chilly depths. Anyway, its quite a sizeable tarn and I had to climb a good way up the path to get almost all of it in view.

14 Bowscale Tarn outflow

The tarn’s water just about manages to dribble through the flattish outflow into Tarn Syke but then falls much more quickly and steeply down into the River Caldew.

15 The path from the outflow going up to the Bowscale Fell ridge

Directly opposite the outflow is the start of the path up to Bowscale Fell’s north ridge. That’s the path I climbed up to try and get the shot of the whole of the tarn.

16 The steep corrie slopes around Bowscale Tarn

The steep and daunting corrie walls surrounding the tarn. They don’t look too threatening in all this sunshine but on a dark day in winter they can look very grim indeed. Its quite a high tarn too, the gps gave a reading of just over 1550′ at the outflow, my car is parked at 770′, so from Bowscale to the tarn the bridleway rises about 780′ but you just don’t notice it at all.

17 Taking an off path route back down to join the bridleway

After spending a few minutes wandering about at the tarn I decided to return to the bridleway down there by going off path across the moraine slope. It wasn’t very steep and was surprisingly dry and springy which made a very pleasant change from all the soggy stuff I’ve walked across lately.

18 A view of High Pike and Carrock Fell as I descend

A look across to High Pike and Carrock Fell at the start of my descent. Tarn Syke flows down to the River Caldew in the valley bottom via the deep ravine running left to right across the foreground.

19 Safely back on the bridleway for the rest of the walk back down to Bowscale

Safely back on the bridleway, after a quick and easy descent, ready for the rest of the walk back down to Bowscale and, at last, the strong wind has subsided so I won’t get hustled by it on my way back down.

20 Looking along the River Caldew towards Mosedale as I descend

My view down the valley as I make my way back to Bowscale …..

21 Back down in Bowscale hamlet

….. which I reach in what seems like no time at all and so today’s outing is at an end. All that’s left to do is go through the gate and walk along just beyond the last telephone pole back to where I’ve parked my car. It wasn’t what I’d planned to do today, thanks to the strong wind, but it was enjoyable nevertheless, and its always good to be out when the weather is as sunny as it has been today.