Easedale Tarn via Far Easedale

Walk date – 24th November 2023

Distance – 6 miles

Weather – Sunny, dry, cold and gusty northerly  wind


November is often a dreary month, the clocks have gone back, the hours of daylight are short, and the shorter days tend to go hand in hand with damp and foggy weather. This year November, so far, has excelled itself by providing day after day of very low and heavy cloud together with a variety of gale force winds and heavy rainstorms. On the very few halfway decent weather days there have been they have occurred on days when we have not been able to take advantage of them other than taking very short and unrecorded local walks. No point in taking a camera when poor light prevails and there’s nothing much to see other than fog and very low cloud. However, today, and over the coming weekend, the weather was set to change and as it would be coming in from a northerly direction we could look forward to a spell of dry, bright and frosty weather and an end to all those dull and dreary days. Strongish winds were forecast for today so we decided to stay fairly low to avoid getting battered but with enough gentle climbing to get our leg muscles used to something more than going upstairs to bed every night. Easedale Tarn via Far Easedale seemed to fit the bill so that’s where we went today.


Lancrigg – Far Easedale – Stythwaite Steps – Easedale Tarn circuit – Sourmilk Gill – Easedale – Lancrigg

A shaded Tarn Crag ahead of us as we walk across the fields heading for Far Easedale with a couple of other walkers just ahead of us. A few clouds are still hanging around which will eventually disappear as the sun gets higher and there’s a chilly breeze in our faces as we walk along but with blue sky and sunshine overhead we’re looking forward to an enjoyable walk in decent weather at last.

This split boulder must have been here for ages so why we haven’t noticed it before now is a mystery. We must have been too busy talking or in a hurry to get under way on previous walks along here.

Here’s where the tarmac road ends and the path into Far Easedale begins. The sign on the handgate said Jackdaw Cottage so maybe that referred to the smaller building on the right rather than the much bigger house on the left. Also attached to the right hand dwelling was a sign saying ‘NOT FOR CARS’ although just a glance at the rough surface ahead ought to be enough for anyone to realise that. Perhaps some people just need to be told rather than use a bit of gumption.

On the way up the rough path we caught sight of this bird carving in an old tree stump. This also looks to have been here for a while but we’ve never noticed it until now.

Just a little further on from the carving is a path junction and the steep route up to Helm Crag off to the right is indicated by the sign post. Perhaps the two walkers who were just in front of us as we started out have gone up to Helm Crag as we never saw them again. We carried on into Far Easedale by taking the left hand path …..

….. and kicking our way through the mounds of fallen leaves along the lane. Other than the evergreen variety very few trees have any leaves left on them now, especially after the gale force winds we had yesterday.

A glimpse of the waterfalls in Sourmilk Gill across the valley …..

….. and a better glimpse of the same as we reached some higher ground a little further along.

Brinhowe Crag and Ecton Crag on either side of the falls. No-one on this path so far but we can see walkers going up to the tarn via the path on the other side of the valley.

A look back at the barns in Far Easedale as we begin to climb up the next slope.

Lots of water splashing down Far Easedale gill today.

Pike of Carrs on the skyline as we reach Stythwaite Steps and the bridge. Most of the early cloud has disappeared and the sun shines out of a clear blue sky, what a lovely crisp morning it has turned into.

We stopped for about five minutes just to enjoy the sunlight and the views during which we were joined by a party of three men who paused, not to have a chat but to intently study their maps for what seemed quite a long time before they eventually crossed over and headed off up the hill. We waited until they were out of sight before we crossed the gill and began making our way up.

Helm Crag in the sunshine from the path to the tarn.

The green topped boulder on which the way to Grasmere is indicated could do with a lick of paint, the lettering was only just readable.

Just across from the big boulder is this smaller split boulder with a small tree growing through the split.

The two boulders in situ backed by Helm Crag. Both boulders are situated on permanently very wet ground so, for anyone wishing to avoid wet feet and that sinking feeling, they would probably be best viewed from the path. We’ve already got muddy boots from the walk up Far Easedale so a bit of wet didn’t matter all that much.

The Blea Rigg ridge is on the skyline. Sourmilk Gill rushing from the tarn is becoming visible but first we have to cross the very marshy flat ground between here and there before we get anywhere near that.

The craggy area above us as we begin crossing the marshy stuff via the stepping stones …..

….. a look back along the stepping stones through the marshy areas we neared the end of them. Here and there some stones had sunk below the water level which provided a couple of tricky moments for those of us who have not been blessed with long legs.

A roaring noise coming from Sourmilk Gill had us diverting from the path to have a peer down into it. Plenty of white water pouring down the gill today.

Returning to the path up to the tarn with Cockly Crag high above us and a clear blue sky and sunshine overhead. We’re finally enjoying the sunny side of the street after weeks of living on the dark side of the moon.

Still making our way up to the tarn with a look back to see what’s on offer and from left to right on the skyline we have the Gibson Knott ridge, Seat Sandal, Fairfield and Helm Crag.

Another peer down into the gill as we continue on up the path.

Easedale Tarn and its outflow finally comes into view so …..

….. instead of crossing the outflow we carried on and did a circuit of the tarn because its a lovely morning and we aren’t in a hurry. The next few shots were taken from various aspects around the tarn so be prepared for lots of water views.

The Blea Rigg ridge on the skyline as we round the northern corner of the tarn. It became a whole lot draughtier whenever we were close to the tarn as is usually the case with an open stretch of water. The ruffled surface of the tarn indicating the strength of the wind.

We get a little respite from the wind as we thread our way through the humps and bumps below Tarn Crag …..

….. but it comes back with a vengeance when we return closer to the water, I think its known as ‘bracing’ as in ‘good for you’ health wise. Bracing also has another meaning and that’s what some of us have to do when faced with unexpected gusts which have the power to knock us over. Goodness knows what it must be like over on some of the high fells if its this strong down here.

Looking back along the tarn from the western end …..

….. where, a little further along, we came across this old sheepfold. AW has it marked on Tarn Crag 5 in his book, The Central Fells, Book 3.

Rounding the western end of the tarn now and heading for the path on the other side which leads back to the tarn outflow. Between here and there is an abundance of very marshy ground to cross which it would take a very long and very hot summer to dry out. As we haven’t had one of those I’ll leave you to imagine the conditions underfoot during our crossing over.

Back on the established path now which of course is in the chilly shade cast by the shadows of the higher fells behind us. We’ll be back in the sunshine further along the path and in the meantime we have a sunny view of the tarn and its foothills, and they in turn are backed by the skyline view of Seat Sandal, Fairfield, Great Rigg and Stone Arthur.

Back in the sunshine close to the site of the old Victorian refreshment hut for a view of Tarn Crag. Plenty of walkers up here and back and forth along the path too, everyone well wrapped up but no doubt enjoying the brighter weather. We still have the gusty wind but the edge is taken off it by the bright sunshine and a cup of hot coffee.

After a short break for coffee and snacks we began making our way back down. As we started out this sunshine and shadow view caught my eye. At the bottom of the shot just above the shady area is the path we followed up to the tarn, across the middle foreground is the Helm Crag/Gibson Knott ridge and forming the skyline view are Seat Sandal, Fairfield, Great Rigg and Stone Arthur.

Further down the path and now we have a skyline view of Helm Crag, Heron Pike and Nab Scar. In the shaded area towards the bottom of the shot is the white water of Sourmilk Gill making its way over to drop, via the waterfalls, into Easedale beck and on into Grasmere water.

A look back at Tarn Crag and its various craggy foothills before the view is hidden as we round the bend.

A group of four were taking photos of each other just here by the falls so there was a bit of a wait until they moved off and carried on up the hill to the tarn. The falls look a little gloomy being in the shade but part of Ecton Crag gets a bit of sunlight to brighten up the scene a little.

From our descent a view of Easedale, mostly in the shade all the way down as the sun hasn’t quite managed to rise above the higher ground on the right of the path.

Further down the path there was an opportunity to get a better shot of the waterfalls. Couldn’t let the opportunity go to waste even if it did mean standing on and sinking into some very waterlogged ground.

J strolling down the path as we make our way back down. Several walkers still making their way up for an early afternoon walk.

The sun might be shining over on the other side of Easedale but it was definitely nippy in the shade along here.

Down in the bottom of the valley now with a view of sunny Stone Arthur, Heron Pike and Nab Scar as we approach …..

….. New Bridge which we will cross over to rejoin the outward path we started out on earlier.

Lancrigg Hotel backed by Great Rigg and Stone Arthur and …..

….. a final look over to Helm Crag as we make our way back to the car. We stowed our packs in the car and then went over to the hotel to avail ourselves of the free cup of coffee which the Lancrigg offers by way of compensation for the charge they make for parking in their grounds. After the somewhat chilly descent into Easedale it was nice to sit on the sunny hotel terrace whilst warming ourselves up with some hot coffee. We’ve had a very enjoyable walk in long awaited good weather, long may it last because we’ve had quite enough of fog, low cloud, torrential rain, storms and gales thank you very much. We’ll be back soon, hopefully.