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Walkers enjoying views from Tarn Hows copyright Charlie Hedley

Miles Without Stiles 13: Tarn Hows


Route type: For all / for many. This is a beautiful circular walk around this picturesque location. There is also a short linear walk above the tarns - OS Explorer Map OL7

Distance: 3 km or 1.8 miles circular for many, 0.75 km or 0.5 miles linear for all

Start and end point: Circular walk, the main car park - grid ref. SD 326996

Linear route, small car park for disabled users grid ref. SD 330994

Facilities: Toilets at the main car park (no longer at disabled car park as shown on map) and during summer an ice cream van is usually in the main car park. An all-terrain Tramper mobility scooter is available to use free of charge - to book call the National Trust on 015394 41456.  

Getting there: Bus: Cross Lakes Experience links Tarn Hows with Bowness, Hawkshead and Coniston in summer. The X31 Tarn Hows Tourer operates between Coniston and Hawkshead from April to November. Car: B5286 from Ambleside to Hawkshead, turn right up Hawkshead Hill and follow signs for Tarn Hows


Tarn Hows is a man-made, stunning beauty spot. In Victorian times, a beck was dammed, creating the tarns you see today. The Hows are the surrounding small, wooded hills.

From the main car park, turn right and take the obvious track down towards the tarn. The circuit can be done either clockwise or anti-clockwise. The path surface is made up of smooth, compact stone and dust, and provides a smooth ride for wheelchair and pushchair users. However, there are some short sections with gradients steeper than 1:10.

The scenery is stunning and there are plenty of benches and rest places to take it all in. Look over to the Coniston hills and Langdale Pikes, which form the backdrop to this spectacular corner of the Lake District.

There is another shorter walk for wheelchair users. Park in the parking area (note: this is no longer a decicated disabled car park as shown on map) and follow the good track for 400 metres to a bench and viewpoint. You need to return at this point. Please note this shorter walk is currently in need of maintenance and may not be that suitable for wheelchairs.  


Map - Tarn Hows route