TARN Hows is worth visiting again and again because its appearance changes with the seasons, writes JOHN EDMONDSON. Despite being one of the most popular places in the Lake District a 10-minute excursion leads to a splendid viewpoint that few people visit. This walk then continues on tracks and open fell to visit three more summits. The reward of wonderful views in just a few miles and a modest total ascent makes this walk remarkable value for effort.

Park in Tarn Hows National Trust car park, grid reference SD 326 995.


Distance: 5 miles and 1,200 feet of ascent

Time: 3 hours

Terrain: grassy paths, open fell and stony tracks.

Map: OS Explorer OL7


1 From the car park cross the road and descend to the path on the left side of Tarn Hows. Tarn Hows is a man-made landscape created by James Garth Marshall in the mid-19th Century. Originally there were three tarns but around 1865 a dam was built across the outlet to Tom Gill to raise the water level and join up the tarns. Hundreds of trees were planted to create a beautiful landscape. Beatrix Potter bought the estate in 1929. She sold the half containing Tarn Hows to the National Trust and the remainder was passed to the trust through her will. Walk through a gate, pass the dam over Tom Gill then turn left onto a path behind a memorial bench (to Jane Aldworth). Keep going uphill and northwards along the undulating ridge to the top of Tom Heights. At each of the four summits crossed the views in all directions become progressively more spectacular. Crinkle Crags, Langdale Pikes and Lingmoor can easily be identified. Descend from the final summit continuing northwards to a grassy col facing a small cairned rock. Fork right, cross a reedy area and descend to meet the main path from the tarn 10 yards before a gate.

2 Go through the gate and turn left to follow the Cumbria Way northwards. Before reaching the A593 turn right and walk past High Arnside and Low Arnside. Pass through the gate at Low Arnside then turn right. After 200 yards, shortly before reaching the next gate, turn left and cross the fell up to a gate. Turn left and follow a grassy track going round the edge of a hill then turn left past remains of a bark peeler’s hut. The low, circular stone wall would have been topped by a conical-shaped thatched roof. The job of the peelers was to remove strips of bark, mainly from oak trees, before they were coppiced. The bark, a source of tannin, was supplied to local tanneries. The peelers also made brooms and clothes pegs. Continue steeply to a wall corner and then follow the wall to the summit of Black Crag. Cross the wall stile and walk another 250 yards to another viewpoint on Great Cobble then return to Black Crag.

3 Visit a third cairned viewpoint to the southeast then head southwest to join the main path leading to a gate next to woodland. Follow the stony track to the right going down through woodland to the larger Cumbria Way track. Turn left and after 180 yards right to cross over a stile. Follow the path around the edge of a mound (Torver Intake) to a stile at the edge of woods. Turn left onto the main path around the east side of Tarn Hows and return to the car park where the walk began.

Next week: Aysgarth Falls and Penhill Beacon

NB: restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.