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Exploring Tarn Hows and Coniston

Tarn Hows & Coniston, Cumbria
Tarn Hows & Coniston, Cumbria | © Pete Tasker

Tarn Hows and Coniston hold some of the Lake District’s more varied landscapes: from gentle lakeshores to rugged fell tops and medieval farms with Herdwick sheep nestled amongst woods and wetlands of international importance. Embark on an adventure surrounded by ever-changing scenery.

Get active

With endless walks for all abilities and surfaced cycle routes to keep you off road throughout much of the area, there's something for everyone when exploring Tarn Hows and Coniston.

Tarn Hows makes a great destination on foot or by bike from Coniston and Hawkshead, or beyond. There's also a great network of paths nearby, including the atmospheric Tom Gill with its wildlife-rich woodland and tumbling waterfalls.

For a more luxurious start to your day, take a cruise onboard Steam Yacht Gondola, then wander up through woodland to Tarn Hows.

Find out more about Steam Yacht Gondola.

A rushing stream running through green mossy woodland scattered with fallen leaves
Tom Gill near Tarn Hows | © National Trust Images/Nick Dautlich

Highlights to look out for

  • The Monk Coniston estate, once home to James Garth Marshall who created Tarn Hows, and where you can find an arboretum containing towering specimens of unusual conifers.
  • Peel Island on Coniston Water played a part in inspiring Wild Cat Island in Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, and is also thought to be the site of a medieval fort.
  • Yew Tree Farm in Yewdale valley is a typical Lakeland hill farm, which was used in the 2006 film Miss Potter. Although this was not her home, Beatrix Potter once owned it and helped the tenants to set up the first tea-room.
  • From the car park at Glen Mary you can potter uphill through lush woodlands to Tarn Hows, passing the thunderous Tom Gill falls.
  • A gentle walk up Holme Fell rewards you with 360 degree views and a sea of heather.

Access for all

The path around the tarn is a manageable length of less than two miles making it a great trail for all the family to enjoy. The circular track is suitable for baby buggies and wheelchairs, although there are a few short hilly sections. A Tramper mobility scooter is available to use so everyone can get involved.

Fun for families

Pick up a Nature Discovery Trail pack from the team in the car park at Tarn Hows for a small donation, and head off spotting, exploring and discovering, using all your senses.

Tarn Hows, Cumbria
Tarn Hows, Cumbria | © ©National Trust Images/Melvin Jefferson

Visiting with your dog

With lots of different routes to choose from, it's the perfect place for a good walk with your four-legged friend. Dogs are very welcome on leads. There is livestock grazing around the Tarn all year round so please do keep dogs under close control on leads for everyone's safety and enjoyment.

The Canine Code

We’ve worked with our partner Forthglade to come up with this Canine Code, which helps to make sure everyone can enjoy their day:

  • Keep them close: using a short lead helps to keep your dog from disturbing ground-nesting birds and farm animals. It's essential to use a short lead around sheep. But if cattle approach you, it's best to let your dog off the lead, and call them back when it's safe to do so.
  • Pick up the poo: please always clear up after your dog. If you can't find a bin nearby, take the poo bags home with you.
  • Watch the signs: keep an eye on local signs and notices wherever you're walking. They'll tell you if a beach has a dog ban, for instance, or if a path has been diverted, or if you're in an area where dogs can run off-lead.
  • Stay on the ball: remember that not everyone loves dogs, and some people fear them. So make sure your dog doesn't run up to other people, especially children.
Early morning view across a lake surrounded by trees, with pink-tinged mountain peaks in the distance

Discover more at Tarn Hows and Coniston

Find out how to get to Tarn Hows and Coniston, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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