Wray Castle to Blelham Tarn circular walk
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.
Wray Castle car park, grid ref: NY375010
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.
Iron 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.
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.
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.
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.
Research 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, bear left around the knoll through pasture and mixed woodland.
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.
Lake District champion
Hardwick Rawnsley, one of the three founders of the National Trust, was vicar at St Margaret's 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.
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.
The hill Latterbarrow is visible on your right. It has a cairn on top and brilliant 360-degree views on a clear day.
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.
Enjoy the lakeshore
The lakeshore path through the estate gives great views across Lake Windermere, a perfect way to end your walk.
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.)
Wray Castle jetty
Why not come by boat from Ambleside or Brockhole?
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