Tarn Hows

Walk date – 26th December 2023

Distance – 2.1 miles

Weather – mostly dull with occasional light rain showers, brief glimpses of sun,


We turned tourist for the day and went over to Tarn Hows for a short stroll around the tarn. A Boxing Day ‘lull’ in the weather had been forecast which in one respect turned out to be accurate in that there wasn’t a hint of even a light breeze in contrast to the gales we’ve been experiencing of late. Apart from that the skies were mostly overcast and which dotted us with rain showers every now and then, although we did get a couple of very brief sunny spells. As expected Tarn Hows was busy with families, groups and couples, ourselves included, all taking advantage of a gentle stroll no doubt to work off some of the excesses of the previous day. Despite the general dreariness and dampness of the day it was good to be outdoors again not to mention being able to walk upright after days and days of battling strong winds every time we went outdoors.


A circular stroll around the tarn

A quick look down at the busy lower path as we walked across from the car park was all we needed to decide that we would take the quieter anti-clockwise route around the tarn, walking along in a queue of folk is not my cup of tea at all. The bridge down there crossing the tarn outflow is at the exit point of the path from the Glen Mary bridge on the A593 up alongside Tom Gill and its waterfalls.

The light rain was pitter-pattering on my jacket hood as we set off around the tarn …..

….. and kept on doing so in fits and starts all the way around.

Part of Black Crag appears above the far end of the tarn …..

….. but the view back towards Wetherlam isn’t quite as clear and Coniston Old Man never lost its cloud cover at all. Here’s a few shots taken as we walked along …..

We’re almost at the northern end of the tarn now and a look over to the left of the shot shows the path we’ve been following so far.

The pitter-pattering on my jacket hood subsided at this point and we had one of the brief sunny spells, although it only landed on the higher ground not on us.

Part of Black Crag illuminated by another sunny spell and …..

….. finally we also get to share it although the hazy shadow cast by the tree beside the path tells you that it was nothing more than a faint glimmer.

The sunny glimmer on Black Crag eventually faded away but it was nice while it lasted.

A look back after crossing the footbridge at the northern end of the tarn. Just a short distance behind me is a stile beyond which is a footpath leading over to the Cumbria Way from where walkers can divert through Iron Keld plantation and on to Black Crag summit.

We noticed plenty of storm damaged trees alongside the lower path we used on the return leg …..

….. some of which appeared to have been lying around for a few years …..

….. others such as this one have been blown over very recently, I think I’ve already mentioned that we’ve had quite a few gales lately.

 An atmospheric view along the water or, alternatively depending on your mood at the time, a gloomy view of Tarn Hows.

More uprooted trees just a little further along from the last lot. The estate of Tarn Hows used to belong to Beatrix Potter and she and her husband, Tom Heelis, successfully managed the area whilst they had ownership of it. In 1930 the National Trust had managed to raise enough money to buy it from them although they asked Beatrix and Tom to manage it for them. At some point the management of the estate became the responsibility of the Trust. Providing a car park, toilets and information board, all designed to ‘harmonise’ with the landscape isn’t exactly what you might call managing the estate. More of this rant to come.

More fallen trees and evidence of recent cutting a little further on. Given the tangled appearance of the place I began to wonder, since the Trust has adopted a ‘woke’ attitude to its properties in recent years (much to the detriment of its membership subscriptions I might add) whether they are deliberately leaving any fallen trees which don’t obstruct the pathways as part of some sort of ‘back to nature’ policy. Back in the day the original owners were the Marshall family, you may have seen the letter M on various boundary stones, who carried out a series of landscape improvements resulting in the area that we have today. Nowadays the Trust, and every other institution it seems, disapproves of the attitudes and activities of members of those past generations and seems determined to write them out of history, replacing most of our heritage with their own deluded, contorted and apologetic version of the past. I’m sure that the Tarn Hows of today wouldn’t have appeared in Beatrix Potter’s time or the Marshall’s.

Things became even darker on our way back …..

….. as the clouds joined forces and blotted out most of the light.

A possible candidate for the next gale perhaps?

A final look across Tarn Hows as we made our way back up the hill to the car park.

As we dropped down the (one way only) lane back to Coniston a cloud free Wetherlam came into view but Coniston Old Man was still heavily covered over so I didn’t bother taking a shot.

The lane eventually drops us back down to Coniston so before we lost the view here’s a shot of the Langdale Pikes on the right just behind some of the Yewdale Fells. The drive back home was as uneventful as our walk but at least we were able to get out today, if only for a very short walk, to get some fresh air and a modicum of exercise. As I write this report it has been raining heavily all day and the branches of the neighbouring trees are being blown horizontal, its all becoming very tedious!