Tom Gill to Tarn Hows walk, Coniston

Glen Mary Bridge, Coniston, Cumbria

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Tom Gill beck: an enchanting white ribbon of water as it drops 30 feet © Kevin Fairclough

Tom Gill beck: an enchanting white ribbon of water as it drops 30 feet

The black fleece of this lamb will turn increasingly grey as it ages © Kevin Fairclough

The black fleece of this lamb will turn increasingly grey as it ages

One of the picture postcard views from Tarn Hows © Kevin Fairclough

One of the picture postcard views from Tarn Hows

Yew Tree Farm becomes Hill Top for the film Miss Potter © National Trust

Yew Tree Farm becomes Hill Top for the film Miss Potter

Route overview

Thinking of driving up to Tarn Hows? Walking up this short approach heightens the magic. Take the steep path through woodland and past the waterfalls, stopping off at the iconic beauty spot of Tarn Hows. The return route offers spectacular views of the high fells of Wetherlam and Coniston Old Man.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route of the Tom Gill to Tarn Hows walk in the Lake District, Cumbria
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Car park at Tom Gill (at Glen Mary Bridge), grid ref: SD321998

  1. From the car park, head past the ticket machine and over the wooden bridge. Go through the gate to take the narrow path alongside the gill.

  2. The path climbs up a rocky section before traversing the gill-side with the beck below. The waterfall is best viewed from the path as it ascends on the left side.

    Show/HideTom Gill Beck

    The titular Tom Gill is the fast-flowing stream outlet from Tarn Hows that rushes through the wooded Glen Mary ravine. The waterfall, which drops 30 feet (9m) has been an attraction to visitors for much of the 20th century and is especially spectacular after heavy rainfall.

    Tom Gill beck: an enchanting white ribbon of water as it drops 30 feet © Kevin Fairclough
  3. Passing a gate, follow the path, keeping on the left-hand side of the gill. Take extra care on the last rocky section as you approach Tarn Hows. Head right on the main track through the gates.

    Show/HideHerdwick Sheep

    Herdwicks are the traditional breed of sheep in the Lake District. They have grazed the fells for several hundred years, influencing the way the landscape looks today. The black fleeces of the lambs turn increasingly grey as they age.

    The black fleece of this lamb will turn increasingly grey as it ages © Kevin Fairclough
  4. In front of the bench, at the three-way junction, take the path on the far left along the edge of the tarn. It sweeps around the bank and uphill, past some trees on your left.

    Show/HideTarn Hows

    Tarn Hows is part of a designed Victorian landscape. It was created by damming the outflow of Tarn Moss to create one large tarn, a mountain lake or pool. The head of water, with typical Victorian ingenuity, was used to create power for sawmill machinery. Seemingly every direction you look in at Tarn Hows creates a picture-postcard view, providing the weather is on your side.

    One of the picture postcard views from Tarn Hows © Kevin Fairclough
  5. At the T-junction, go right, continuing uphill towards the road. Stay on the path as it follows alongside the road a little way above you, bearing left until you reach the junction with the road, opposite the car park.

  6. Turn right and head towards Coniston, along the road, passing a cattle grid. Follow the road for about 0.25 mile (0.4km) as it swings its way down, opening out breathtaking views of Yewdale.

  7. At the junction, take the track on the right through the gates marked Tarn Hows Cottage. With the wall on your left and views on your right, follow the track towards the cottage.

  8. Follow the track swinging down to the right. Go through the gate, keeping straight on past the front of the cottage and out through another gate into the fields. Turn immediately left, following the wall downhill.

  9. At the end of the wall, go through the small gate. Continue down the slope, keeping the hedge and fence line to your right. Go through a small gate in the hedgerow, then turn left downhill.

  10. At the bottom of the hill, head right along the field edge, with Yew Tree Farm on the opposite side of the road. Head out of the field, through the gate and over the wooden bridge into the car park. Yew Tree Farm is a typical Lakeland hill farm and was famously used in the film Miss Potter. Although this was not her home, Beatrix Potter once owned it and helped the tenants to set up the first tea-room.

    Show/HideToo short a walk?

    Why not combine this with the Yew Tree Tarn walk? Both routes start and finish at Glen Mary Bridge.

    Yew Tree Farm becomes Hill Top for the film Miss Potter © National Trust

End: Car park at Tom Gill (at Glen Mary Bridge), grid ref: SD321998

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Hard
  • Distance: 1.6 miles (2.5km)
  • Time: 1 hour
  • OS Map: Landranger 96, 97; Explorer OL7
  • Terrain:

    A short walk but on difficult terrain; the initial ascent up Tom Gill has uneven paths alongside steep drops with two rock scrambles that can be hazardous, especially in poor weather. Dogs welcome on leads. Not suitable for those with limited mobility or novice fell-walkers.

  • How to get here:

    By foot: From Coniston (Holly How Youth Hostel) follow the footpath (and permissive bridleway) north-east, along the well-surfaced woodland track, past High Yewdale and Yew Tree Farm to Glen Mary Bridge

    By bike:  Regional Route 37 (Ambleside to Coniston) passes via the property. Deviate from the route at Shepherds Bridge (end of Hodge Close Road), heading along the permissive bridleway to Yew Tree Farm. Tom Gill car park is 109 yards (100m) further along the A593

    By car: Car park is located off the A593 Ambleside to Coniston road at Glen Mary Bridge

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