Taking photos at Tarn Hows copyright Charlie Hedley

Tarn It! walk

Great Walking and Cycling Made Easy

5 miles of walking - up to 3 and a half hours
Enjoy breathtaking scenery as you walk from High Cross to Coniston by way of Tarn Hows.

Tarn it walk map

Timings: Remember to check bus and ferry times before you depart! Take a look at Cross Lakes Experience 

Make a day of it: Pick up the Cross Lakes Shuttle at Bowness, Coniston or Hawkshead to High Cross, enjoy your walk and then get the bus and boat back from Coniston.

Refreshments: available at Coniston.

Large version of map: take a look at the Great Walking and Cycling Made Easy leaflet page 2 (PDF)

Route description:

Get off the bus at High Cross at the top of Hawkshead Hill and taking great care, go across the road through the kissing gate where the fingerpost directs you to Tarn Hows. Follow the footpath around the edge of the field and after about 5 minutes you’ll get to another kissing gate on your right in a corner. Go through this and then immediately on your left through a second kissing gate into the woods. Follow the footpath past a very tall kissing gate and up a small hill where you can enjoy the views over Coniston Water.

Follow the track on down towards the road and along a narrow footpath that follows the back of the wall parallel to the road. Follow this until you walk through a small storage area and out of a small wicket gate onto the road.

Cross the road, go through a gate at the back of a small car park. After about 100 metres you’ll get to a wooden bench for a well-earned rest. Here there are fabulous views of Tarn Hows, backed by a panorama of Lakeland mountains including Coniston Old Man, Wetherlam and the Langdale Pikes.

Carry on along the track taking the left-hand fork down to the main Tarn Hows circular footpath. Go through the gate and follow the footpath in an anti-clockwise direction round the tarn. You’ll go over a small bridge and through a second gate and shortly afterwards come to a junction of footpaths. You keep straight on keeping the Tarn to your left-hand side. When you get to yet another gate, you’ll be at the dam that forms this historic tarn.

Go through the gate and on up the hill which will bring you back onto the road and the main Tarn Hows car park. Often in summer you’ll find an ice cream van and National Trust Information Land Rover parked here.

Turn right along the road and over the cattle grid and down the hill heading towards Coniston. It is one way on the road and traffic tends to travel slowly but you’ll still need to take care. As you head down the hill you’ll get wonderful views over the Yewdale valley and down to Yew Tree Farm, once owned by Beatrix Potter, used as a location for the recent film, and now cared for by the National Trust.

At a junction of the road and two tracks you need to take the middle one, signed Tarn Hows Cottage that traverses around the hill under old ash trees. Just before the road turns sharply to your right down to the cottage, go through the gate into the field on your left. Follow this old footpath down through the fields enjoying views of Coniston Water as you descend.

At the bottom you’ll come out on an old stone track. Turn left and walk past the farm and through the National Trust sawmill to the junction with the main road. Here you need to turn to your right where you’ll find a footpath that follows the back of the hedge all the way to Coniston village about 1 mile away where there are toilets and refreshments available.

If you don’t fancy the village then about half way there you’ll get to the Waterhead Hotel. Here you can pick up the Stagecoach leg of the Cross Lakes Shuttle to take you back to your start point.