Wray Castle to Blelham Tarn circular walk

Wray Castle, Low Wray, Ambleside LA22 0JA

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
View of Wray Castle, Windermere © National Trust

View of Wray Castle, Windermere

Imagine the ancient industry taking place in this landscape © National Trust/Paul Farrington

Imagine the ancient industry taking place in this landscape

Perhaps an Iron Age scene played out locally?  © Alan Marshall NT

Perhaps an Iron Age scene played out locally?

Take in the beautiful Blelham Tarn on a sunny day © National Trust/Linda Doran

Take in the beautiful Blelham Tarn on a sunny day

Head for High Tock How © National Trust/Linda Doran

Head for High Tock How

A fingerpost helps point the way © National Trust/Linda Doran

A fingerpost helps point the way

Enjoy great views of the distant fells © National Trust/Linda Doran

Enjoy great views of the distant fells

Canon Rawnsley, one of the three founders of the National Trust. © National Trust/Linda Doran

Canon Rawnsley, one of the three founders of the National Trust.

Latterbarrow is seen from most parts of this walk © National Trust/Linda Doran

Latterbarrow is seen from most parts of this walk

Your walk finishes by the lakeshore path through the Wray Castle estate © National Trust/Linda Doran

Your walk finishes by the lakeshore path through the Wray Castle estate

You could arrive by boat at the Wray Castle jetty © National Trust/Linda Doran

You could arrive by boat at the Wray Castle jetty

Route overview

An interesting circular walk from Wray Castle taking in Blelham Tarn and returning via Lake Windermere shoreline. From the Ice Age to the Iron Age, Medieval monks to Victorian visionaries, this walk combines tranquil beauty, great views and fascinating stories from the past.

Route details

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

OS map image Blelham Tarn area
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Wray Castle car park, grid ref: NY375010

  1. From the car park make your way to the road in front of the grand castle entrance and set off down the main drive, with the Dower House on the right, to the arched gatehouse/entrance. Next comes a public road with no pavement so, watching out for traffic, turn right along the road and down the hill, passing the entrance to Low Wray Campsite. Cross the bridge over Blelham Beck towards the kissing gate on the left.

    Show/HideIron Age sword

    Not far from Blelham Tarn a sword from the Iron age was found. The sword had been deliberately broken in half, possibly as part of a burial or a ceremony by a chieftain to claim an area of land. Finds from this era are rare in Cumbria.

    View of Wray Castle, Windermere © National Trust
  2. Go through the kissing gate and walk up by the side of the hedge parallel to the road for 300yds. When you come to a metal field gate turn left onto the public bridleway towards Outgate. After about 100yds the path forks; take the left fork, waymarked by a blue arrow, to the left of a knoll.

    Show/HideIron smelting

    By the stepping stones across Blelham Beck the ditches and hollows to the west of the beck are all that remains of a large medieval bloomery. Here in the 14th and 15th century, on land owned by Furness Abbey, simple iron smelting was taking place.

    Imagine the ancient industry taking place in this landscape © National Trust/Paul Farrington
  3. The path is grassy and indistinct. After a few yards it appears to divide and a track turns left down to Blelham Tarn. Ignore this turn and continue straight ahead, following the waymarks and keeping the tarn 100yds to your left. After another 100yds go through a gate into a wood.

    Show/HideResearch site with great views

    Ten thousand years of history have been uncovered from the sediments of Blelham Tarn. Every aspect of the tarn's geology, silts, sediments, vegetation and animal life have been studied in detail making it one of the most important freshwater research sites in Britain.

    Perhaps an Iron Age scene played out locally?  © Alan Marshall NT
  4. Follow the track as it winds through the wood, crossing some marshy ground. Take the stepping stones over the stream and head up onto some more open ground keeping the wall on your right. Continue over a stile by a gate, the tarn is away to your left.

    Take in the beautiful Blelham Tarn on a sunny day © National Trust/Linda Doran
  5. At the far end of the tarn the path forks. Just before the ground rises, a wooden fingerpost points to the left signed as a footpath to High Tock How. Take this path, with the slope (and later a wall to your right); it can be wet underfoot in winter. Go through a gate with a small stream and the edge of the tarn to your left.

    Head for High Tock How © National Trust/Linda Doran
  6. Continue with the small stream on your left until you reach a small bridge, cross the footbridge and continue up the track towards a barn. Cross a squeeze-stile beside a gate to the left of the barn. Go past another finger post signed as a public footpath to High Tock How farm then over a step-stile beside another field gate about 30yds away. Continue ahead with the wall on your left. High Tock How farm can be seen over the wall to the left.

    A fingerpost helps point the way © National Trust/Linda Doran
  7. Continue to a footpath gate next to a field gate. Go through the gate and continue downhill along the track. This leads to another step-stile beside a field gate and onto a surfaced farm drive. Tock How farm is to the left but turn right to a T-junction and then turn left. The drive drops down towards a white house. Go straight ahead, following a finger post signed to Wray Castle. Head through the gateway past the white house ignoring the drive to the right and a stony track on the left. The path runs to the right of the white house and farm buildings and leads to a stone step-stile beside a gate. Cross the stile and continue along the track.

  8. Walk down the track, crossing another step-stile next to a gate and descending to a gate next to a little stream. Continue with the stream and hedge to the right and Blelham Tarn away to the left. The path leads to a small oak-covered knoll, at which it becomes indistinct but bears left around the knoll through pasture and mixed woodland.

    Enjoy great views of the distant fells © National Trust/Linda Doran
  9. Continue through a wicket gate and across a stone-clapper bridge over a stream. Then continue straight ahead making for the brow of the hill. The path follows the line of a hedge and leads onto the road via a gate. Turn left along the road and walk past a large house, Wray vicarage, on the right.

    Show/HideLake District champion

    Hardwick Rawnsley, one of the three founders of the National Trust, was vicar at St Margarets church in the early 1880s. Even then he was an active campaigner to protect the Lake District landscape from damage by the quarries and railways.

    Canon Rawnsley, one of the three founders of the National Trust. © National Trust/Linda Doran
  10. Before Wray Castle gatehouse and the entrance to St Margaret's church, turn right onto the public bridleway. Continue down the walled track for several hundred yards.

    Show/HideLatterbarrow

    The hill Latterbarrow is visible on your right. It has a cairn on top and brilliant 360 degree views on a clear day.

    Latterbarrow is seen from most parts of this walk © National Trust/Linda Doran
  11. About 50yds before it ends, at a gate and the lakeshore, turn left through a gate and past a National Trust sign. Continue along the lakeshore through Wray Castle parkland past a boathouse. Keeping the lake on the right head towards the woodland and Watbarrow Point.

    Show/HideEnjoy the lakeshore

    The lakeshore path through the estate gives great views across Lake Windermere, a perfect way to end your walk.

    Your walk finishes by the lakeshore path through the Wray Castle estate © National Trust/Linda Doran
  12. Continue past Watbarrow Point through the wood until you reach the two boathouses at this point turn left by the finger post and follow the path by the railings up to the castle. (If you arrive by boat this is the start of your walk.)

    Show/HideWray Castle jetty

    Why not come by boat from Ambleside or Brockhole?

    You could arrive by boat at the Wray Castle jetty © National Trust/Linda Doran

End: Wray Castle

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 3.5 miles (5.5km)
  • Time: 2 hours
  • OS Map: Explorer map OL7 The English Lakes South eastern area
  • Terrain:

    Rolling farmland with some low-lying areas which can be boggy in wet weather, rough farm track, minor public road and bridleway. There are some stiles - most are dog-friendly. Dogs are welcome but please keep them on leads as the route goes through fields which may have cattle and sheep.

  • How to get here:

    By foot: From the south, follow the lakeshore track from Ferry House (4 miles). From the north, off road paths exist for the majority of the route, signed Bowness via Ferry, look out for the blue signs.

    By bike: Seasonal bike-carrying boat from Brockhole; lakeside road and bridleway from Ferry House (4 miles). Plus off road cycle path from Ambleside, signed Bowness via Ferry, look out for the blue signs.

    By bus: Mountain Goat shuttle bus service; Stagecoach from Ambleside to Hawkshead - 1.5 mile (2.4km) walk from drop-off junction on B528

    By boat: For sailing times from Ambleside or Brockhole telephone 015394 32225 or visit Windermere Lake Cruises

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