Alcock Tarn walk
This walk is just under 6km from the Grasmere Church Stile shop. It does have some steep sections but with a bench partway up from which to enjoy the views which just get better and better. With the fantastic views and a great place to have lunch by beautiful little Alcock Tarn, this is a great walk.
Grasmere shop, grid ref: NY337074
From outside the Grasmere Shop, turn left and follow the road through the village and up to the main road, cross the main road with care and follow the minor road opposite between the car park and the Swan Hotel. After approx half a mile (0.8km) turn right at the finger post signed 'Greenhead Gill and Alcock Tarn'. Follow the lane to the top with the stream tumbling alongside.
At the top of the lane, step onto the fell side and turn right and go over the bridge. Follow the path as it bends right and then left following the line of the wall. You will reach a bench from which you can take a breath and look out over magnificent views.
Continue on the ascending path following the wall then continue on the path as it leaves the wall and goes up more steeply, zig-zagging up the fell side. Continue climbing up to a rocky outcrop.
The aqueduct that crosses Green Head Ghyll has been carrying good clean Lakeland water from Thirlmere over the hill to the north and 100 miles (161km) south to Manchester since 1894. This scheme was seen as a great engineering success when developed, and helped solve Manchester's water supply problems. The whole scheme is gravity fed and has no pumps along its route.
Go left of the rocks to the cairn and then onto the flatter, often wet, flat area until you reach a metal gate and Alcock Tarn.
Greenhead Ghyll, once the site of an Elizabethan lead mine, is now a scheduled ancient monument but there's very little to see on the ground. It's difficult now to imagine the industrial nature of this quiet valley when in 1564 the Company of the Mines Royal was given permission to 'search, dig, try, roast and melt all manner of mines and ores'. Many German miners moved in to bring their expertise to the operation.
The tarn provides a great place for a paddle to cool the feet and also a lovely spot to eat a picnic lunch. When the time comes to head down walk along the right-hand side of the tarn and head for a gateless gap in the wall.
Follow the path through the gap in the wall and start the descent over a short rocky section of path overlooking the vale of Grasmere. Take in the views as you descend. As the path goes steeply down, go through a gate past a bench and then a man-made pond (which dates back to this area being a gentleman's landscaped woodland garden).
Packhorse-style stone bridge
The descending path leads you over a lovely mini example of a Lake District packhorse bridge. Due to its diminutive scale it's easy to have a good look and understand how these bridges were constructed out of materials readily available to hand.
At the junction in the path turn left. Continue through the metal gate and through the woods until you reach the road.
Turn right and follow the road which will lead you down the hill. Turn right at the junction on to a minor road to take you past Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Trust Museum until you come to the A591. Cross with care and follow the B5287 back into Grasmere.
As you descend the tarmac road, very shortly after the small duck pond you pass a hefty boulder on your right hand side. Before St Mary's Church in Ambleside was consecrated, coffins had to be transported along the 'Corpse Road' from Ambleside 2 1/2 miles (4km) to St Oswalds' Church at Grasmere for burial. This route is now the present day bridle path to Rydal. This stone with others along the way was used to support the coffin whilst the bearers rested.
Grasmere shop, grid ref: NY337074
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