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Visitors walking up a steep path at Sticklebarn and the Langdales, Lake District
Visitors walking at Sticklebarn and the Langdales | © National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra
Lake District

Stickle Tarn trail

This steep out-and-back path follows the Stickle Ghyll stream all the way up to Stickle Tarn, with striking views across Great Langdale. Take a breather to wonder at dramatic waterfalls and rock pools cut into the mountainside.

Rocky and uneven terrain

The stone path is well-maintained with some easy rocky scrambles, but it can be slippery in wet or wintry weather. Please take care with your footing and wear suitable footwear for the conditions.

Total steps: 7

Total steps: 7

Start point

Stickle Ghyll car park, grid ref: NY294065

Step 1

Leave from the top end of the car park and head through a wooden gate behind Sticklebarn. Pass between stone walls on the left and a bird feeding station to the right. The stone walls are part of the remains of a fulling mill, built in 1453 to clean and felt wool. It was powered by water wheel using water diverted from Stickle Ghyll (you can still see a channel further up the path on the left, which would have provided water).

Step 2

The trail very quickly heads uphill along a well-defined path. An enormous amount of work has been done over the years repairing this much-used path. The majority of the route is constructed using a technique called stone pitching.

Walker going up a stone pitched path, with bare trees to the side
Stone pitched paths on the trail up Stickle Ghyll | © National Trust/David Hamer

Step 3

The trail continues onwards and inevitably upwards. The scenery is dramatic so take every opportunity to pause, catch your breath and take in the views.

Water rushing over and in between rounded rocks, into a deep stream pool, next to a stone path
Waterfalls and rock pools on the path up Stickle Ghyll | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Step 4

After a while you'll approach a wooden footbridge over the stream. Cross the bridge and continue up the other side of the stream. This is the location of the Stickle Ghyll hydro-electric scheme, which is helping us to become a greener, more sustainable organisation.

Walkers crossing a wooden bridge across a steam, the banks reinforced by a dry stone wall
Crossing the bridge over Stickle Ghyll | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Step 5

Once you're over the footbridge you'll start to gain height fairly rapidly as the path becomes steeper and, in places, turns into short scrambles over rocky outcrops. Eventually, as the top ridge comes into view, you'll cross back over the stream onto its left side. Large stepping boulders make this second crossing of the stream almost as straightforward as the first.

Step 6

A few minutes later, as you come over the final rise, you'll see the rewarding sight of Stickle Tarn below the stunning backdrop of Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark. These summits, together with Pike O' Stickle, once formed part of the outer rim of a massive volcano.

View of the rock-strewn lake at Stickle tarn with mountains rising above it and reflecting in the water
Stickle Tarn with the rocky outcrops of Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark above | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Step 7

Stick around for a while and enjoy the peace and tranquility of Stickle Tarn. It's a great spot to dangle your feet in the water before retracing your steps down the same path to your start point.

End point

Stickle Ghyll car park, grid ref: NY294065

Trail map

Map of the Stickle Tarn trail
Map of the Stickle Tarn trail | © Crown copyright and database rights 2015 Ordnance Survey

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Get in touch

Great Langdale, near Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9JU

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