Tarn Hows and Black Crag

Bizarrely, the weather at the weekend was better in the Lake District than it was in Yorkshire, something which has happened a few times recently and which we certainly aren’t complaining about! Sam is training for an ultra marathon in the Lakes later in the year, so I dropped him off to reccy a stretch of the route, and decided to take Merry to tick off another Wainwright. I decided to make the most of my National Trust membership to get free parking and started from one of the most beautiful parts of the Lake District, Tarn Hows.

Like many of our walks, I found the route I followed in my handy Pocket Mountains guidebook, this one being for the Lake District. The walk is about 6km, adding a linear detour up to the summit of Black Crag to a circular walk around Tarn Hows. Note that the postcode won’t take you to Tarn Hows, and you need to take the road North West out of Hawkshead and then follow the signs.

There is a large car park at Tarn Hows which was nearly completely empty when we arrived at 8.45am, but was completely full by the time I got back to the car at 11am. Parking is free for National Trust members but pricey if you’re not – £7.50 for all day. There are nice clean toilets in the car park and a National Trust stand where you can join if you don’t want to pay for parking!

I included Tarn Hows on my blog 5 Classic Lake District Walks and I still firmly believe this is one of the best loved walks in the Lakes – it was certainly getting fairly busy by the time I got back to the car! This is with good reason as the circular walk around the water is beautiful, without being at all strenuous and with well surfaced paths all the way around. We saw plenty of people with buggies and mobility scooters and it’s great that there are places like this which are accessible to everyone. If you fancy getting off the beaten track you can detour up Black Crag as we did, or walk down to Tom Gill waterfall. If you do choose to venture away from the main track the path generally remains well defined but becomes steeper and rockier underfoot.

The path up to Black Crag takes you along a bracken-y track and up into a small plantation, before you re-emerge onto the open fell side. We got so, so close to the summit, but I ended up turning around near the top because there were cows with calves all over the path up to the trig. You can’t really see in the photo, but there were a good two or three calves hanging around using the trig as a scratching post! With a dog in tow I decided that the sensible option would be to turn around and head back up another day – it’ll still be there. It was extremely frustrating though to actually be able to see the trig point and have to turn around! Even more frustrating when I got back down to Tarn Hows and the cows on the other side of the tarn borderline chased me back to my car…

Dog friendly rating – 3/5. On most lakeland fells you can expect to come across livestock of some sort: mostly sheep, with the odd cow and the even rarer pony. There were PLENTY of cows on this walk, both on the fell and around Tarn Hows, and I did feel a bit like I got chased back to my car! Although maybe they were all walking (running) that way anyway…

There were signs up around Tarn Hows asking for dogs to be kept on leads, so Merry stayed on his, although I did see plenty of off-lead dogs. I needed to cross a stile to access the path up Black Crag, but there was a gap under the fence Merry was able to fit through easily. The big plus is that there is no walking on the road and the stream feeding into the tarn offers an opportunity for dogs to have a paddle and a drink. There are bins on the road near the car park where you can deposit and poos before you go home!

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