James Garth Marshall's vision for Tarn Hows

Black and white photo of Tarn Hows in the 1950s

Tarn Hows was originally part of a designed landscape, created by James Garth Marshall, owner of the Monk Coniston Estate, in the 1860s.

Tarn Hows as we see it today was originally three natural tarns. When James Garth Marshall bought it he started on a project to create a new body of water surrounded by a bold, ornamental planting scheme, which also had an industrial use to feed his sawmill, downstream in Coniston. 

Marshall's design

Marshall’s vision involved clumps of trees planted in a carefully considered way, highlighting rocky knolls and the dramatic Lakes landscape beyond. The new planting was protected by ‘nurse’ crops of conifers, which were intended to be removed once the young trees were established. However, Marshall died before his vision was realised and the nurse crops were never removed. Trees then grew to dominate the Tarn Hows panorama as we know it today. 

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A vision for Tarn Hows

Tarn Hows as we see it today was the vision of former owner, James Garth Marshall. Our new project is working to restore some of the designed landscape in his original plan.

The project today  

We are now doing some work to restore elements of the designed landscape, as it was intended to look when it was originally created. 

This will involve gradually removing some trees, particularly thinning areas where there is dense regrowth, to open up some views over the tarn and across to the fells beyond, as well as revealing some of the rocky knolls identified in the original design which have become overgrown.  

" We will be removing some trees to reopen selected views and reveal some of the fine specimen trees that we have at Tarn Hows. "
- Richard Tanner, Woodland Ranger

Protecting and repairing 

Opening up views across the tarn and surrounding countryside will enable visitors to enjoy perspectives on this landscape as it was originally intended to look in the 19th century, as well as helping to protect some of the rare habitats around Tarn Hows. 

Our ranger teams will also be working to partially reinstate parts of Marshall’s vision with some new planting in selected locations from the suite of trees in his original plans.

Getting underway

Work will be done very gradually over a number of years, but starting now means that we can avoid too much intrusive felling work in the future, and keep the visual impact on the landscape to a minimum.