Monk Coniston and Tarn Hows walk

Coniston, Cumbria

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
View of Yew Tree Tarn near Coniston © National Trust

View of Yew Tree Tarn near Coniston

Herdwick sheep at Yew Tree Farm © V Corbett

Herdwick sheep at Yew Tree Farm

The 'Old Man' overlooking Gondola on Coniston Water © Paul Harris

The 'Old Man' overlooking Gondola on Coniston Water

Route overview

Walk from the head of Coniston Water to Tarn Hows via this picturesque route created by 19th-century industrialist J G Marshall to wow guests at his country estate. Pass through iconic Lake District farm and woodland, as well as the walled garden and tree collection of Monk Coniston Hall. Look out for lots of interesting wildlife while enjoying some of Lakeland’s most stunning views.

Route details

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

Route of the Monk Coniston and Tarn Hows walk in Cumbria.
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Monk Coniston car park, grid ref: SD316978

  1. Leaving Monk Coniston car park, take the path into the field opposite. Walk up the field to the black gates at the entrance to Monk Coniston grounds.

  2. Entering the grounds walk up through the woods and into the Walled Garden which is currently being renovated. Look out for the small stone Gazebo which has information panels inside.

  3. Leaving Monk Coniston grounds, take care crossing the road, as you enter the woodland. You'll soon cross a narrow bridge. As you walk through the woods many forestry tracks and paths adjoin but ignore these and stick to the main path, following signposts towards Tarn Hows car park.

    Show/HideWoodland wildlife

    Pass through a mixture of broadleaf and coniferous woodland. Look out for the huge redwoods and other exotic conifers on the way. You can also find wood sorrel, one of the many woodland wild flowers you may see on this walk. It's found in old, undisturbed woodland.

    View of Yew Tree Tarn near Coniston © National Trust
  4. Arriving at Tarn Hows you can walk around the Tarn on a circular loop where there's a good path with seats. The 19th-century landowner, James Garth Marshall, created the Tarn and planted the many trees that shape this landscape.

  5. Return to the main Tarn Hows car park and follow the one-way exit road towards Coniston. Take the first footpath on your right to Tarn Hows Cottage. Before you reach the cottage, take the first footpath on the left, this winds down the hill through fields to Boon Crag Farm. Enjoy the views out over Coniston Water as you go.

    Show/HideNative Breeds

    Look out for Herdwick sheep (lambs have dark brown bodies and white faces, becoming greyer in colour as they get older), roe deer and hares. Red squirrel are in danger of local extinction but make their home here, as do otter. Common lizards and adders live on the heathland, while adders spend more time basking in the sun than most snakes, so you may see one, especially in early spring when they emerge from hibernation. They have a distinctive dark zig-zag pattern on their backs.

    Herdwick sheep at Yew Tree Farm © V Corbett
  6. When you reach the farm track at the bottom of the hill, turn left and continue past the farm and sawmill. At the road, turn right to join an off-road foot path which leads you back to Coniston Water. When you get to the lake, cross the road and walk left back to the car park.

    Show/HideSteam Yacht Gondola

    First launched in 1859 to carry visitors across the lake, the gondola was re-built thirty-odd years ago to bring back to life the Victorian tourist experience. It's a unique craft, a mix between a Venetian gondola and the latest in 19th-century steam technology.

    The 'Old Man' overlooking Gondola on Coniston Water © Paul Harris

End: Monk Coniston car park, grid ref: SD316978

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 3.5 miles to 5 miles (6km to 8km)
  • Time: 2 hours to 3 hours
  • OS Map: Explorer 7
  • Terrain:

    Woodland tracks, a small section of road and farmland which may have livestock present. Can be muddy after wet weather. Several short sections are steep. Option to do circuit of Tarn Hows lake, which is very accessible and has high-grade paths. It can be reached from a car park near point 4 on the map.

  • How to get here:

    By boat: Catch the National Trust’s Steam Yacht Gondola from the pier in Coniston village to Monk Coniston Jetty (April to October)
    By bike: 1 mile (2km) ride from Coniston village. Some sections of this route are also cycleways
    By bus: Coniston Rambler 505, daily from Windermere, Ambleside and Hawkshead. Buses also from Ulverston, connecting with Kendal and Barrow
    By car: A593 from Ambleside. Pier is at end of Lake Road, turn immediately left after petrol station if travelling south from centre of Coniston village. Car parks at Monk Coniston, Coniston village and Tarn Hows

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