Tarn Hows – the frozen mountain lake

Tarn Hows – the frozen mountain lake

What’s a tarn?

A tarn is a small mountain lake or pool and The Lake District has more than 100 of them. However whilst tarns are normally created by by a glacier this tarn is a Victorian man-made creation. It was created from three smaller tarns, known as High Tarn, Low Tarn and Middle Tarn which occupied an area of marshland. The stream which joined the tarns was dammed in the 19th century.

Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows at the start of winter

History

In 1930 The Tarns were owned and listed for sale by the Marshal family. As one of the farms within the estate was previously owned by Beatrix’s great grandfather, she wished to buy the entire estate however could not raise the £15,000 asking price. With her rich mother unwilling to lend her the money, Beatrix approached the National Trust to jointly own the land. However neither the National Trust or the Forestry Commision could obtain the whole sum quickly enough and they were forced to raise a public appeal. It was Sir James and Lady Scott who donated the money which secured the Conniston estate and the area was jointly managed between the National Trust and Beatrix Potter. The remaining half of the Monk Coniston estate was bequeathed by Beatrix Potter in her will to the National Trust when she died in 1943.

Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows at the northern end

Tarn Hows

Tarn Hows is an easy, child/toddler/pushchair/wheelchair friendly walk and great in both winter and summer (although if you want to avoid the tourists don’t visit in summer when it is literally packed)!  Located to the north of Conniston and west of Windermere, it is a flat and wide pathed walk of 1.5 miles (You can make it into 2.6 miles by following our route below).

www.thelighthouseunderthestars.com
www.thelighthouseunderthestars.com

At the northern end of the valley the tarn is fed by basin mires and and the southern end is drained by Tom Gill which tumbles down small waterfalls towards Glen Mary Bridge which is where we started and ended this walk.

Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows sunset from the east of the lake

Starting at Glen Mary Bridge

By parking at Glen Mary Bridge (not wheelchair friendly) and taking the higher routes around Tarn Hows, you can turn the route into a 2.6 mile circular walk (rather than 1.5 miles). We followed this route from The Walking Englishman.

From the Glen Mary car park, you take the little bridge that crosses the last of the Tom Gill waterfalls and you ascent the well trodden path  up through Lane End Coppice and Harry Field Wood at a gentle climb (for The Lake District), following the waterfalls and river of Tom Gill.  It is definitely not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs (unless you’re prepared to carry them UP). The path comprises of moderately steep, stone steps which in the winter are icy and slippy. As a result you’ll need to walk on the side verges which are littered with tree roots.

Tarn Hows
Glen Mary Bridge footpath
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Waterfalls along the way
Tarn Hows
Lots of little cascades
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Steps along the route
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More cascades
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The last waterfall before reaching Tarn Hows

 

 Arriving at the tarn from Glen Mary bridge

After the final mini waterfall you’re suddenly opposite the tarn and you have a choice of direction. We chose clockwise and headed north.

Tarn Hows
First view over Tarn Hows

 

An area of natural beauty

The tarn has been awarded as an area of outstanding natural beauty and it isn’t hard to see why. With views over the snowy caps of Coniston hills and Langdale Pikes it makes a stunning short walk.

When we visited at the end of November the tarn was starting to freeze and our kids had great fun trying to smash the ice with sticks and hear the echoes vibrate around.  It was very picturesque and there was lots to photograph.

 

Heading north

Going north along the tarn there’s loads of little paths heading off to wooded areas, there are seats so you can enjoy the view, fallen trees to balance on, fallen trees full of old coins and plenty of places to sit in the grass and have a picnic. Not to mention the fascination of ICE to break!

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A seat with a view
Tarn Hows
A tree with old coins in it
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Areas to explore
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Fallen trees to climb and explore

 

Those mountains mesmerise me

As a self-confessed ocean junkie, I have been surprised by how much those mountains have captivated me (although given my love for Norwegian Mountains this summer maybe we should have seen it coming). Growing up here, I don’t recall having any real interest in these looming rock giants but now I just can’t wait to get out and explore them!

I was surprised by how much the terrain reminded me of both Norway and Canada. Maybe it was the huge pine trees?

Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows

Setting Sun

We arrived late (about 1pm) and stayed until the sun started setting. The winter light disappears quickly but we were rewarded with a fantastic sunset before heading down back through the woods.

Tarn Hows
The setting sun highlighting the trees at Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows
An icy Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows
Setting sun over Tarn Hows

The woods get dark!

This is stating the obvious but as there’s virtually no light pollution, give yourself enough time to get back down.

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The sun setting through the coppice
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Making our way back down to the car
Tarn Hows
The sun setting through the trees

Keeping up to date with us

The best way to keep up to date with us is through Instagram.

Credits

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: Sigma 24-70mm

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