This popular beauty spot is between Coniston and Hawkshead on the B5285 and can easily be accessed from both places. Owned by the National Trust, you will find a car park at the Tarn which tends to get busy around school holidays, so an early start is advisable. You will find some information regarding the Tarn and public toilets in the car park. In the summer months, there is usually an ice cream van.
You can walk up to Tarn Hows from Hawkshead or Coniston. It’s roughly 2 miles from either village through country lanes and wooded footpaths. You can also catch a bus and ask to be dropped off at High Cross, the back entrance of Grizedale Forest.
The History of Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows historically consisted of three smaller tarns owned by the Marshal family of Monk Coniston. James Garth Marshal (1802 – 1873) embarked on large-scale landscaping projects, including damming the lower Tarn to create the singular body of water you see today. He also increased the spruce, larch and pine plantations surrounding the Tarn.
Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) purchased the Monk Coniston Estate, including Tarn Hows in 1930 with the National Trust’s help, to protect the land from being sold off as tourist developments. Potter was in awe of this beautiful area and managed the property with her husband, William Heelis (1871-1945), later bequeathing the rest of the land to the National Trust in her will.
Tarn How’s Circular Walk
Starting at the National Trust car park, follow the well-maintained gravel path that tracks around Tarn Hows. The circular walk is 1.6 miles and takes approximately 1 hour. A special place which is perfect for children, prams, dogs and has excellent access for wheelchairs. Walk in the steps of Beatrix Potter and experience the Lakeland charm; keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels and some rare Belted Galloway cattle that graze in the area.