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Enjoy a family-friendly stroll around one of the most serene lakes in Cumbria.

Photo: Anton Blochin_iStock

Tarn Hows – Why Go?

A stroll around Tarn Hows offers pleasant views of the picturesque Lakeland fells – without actually having to hike up them. This makes it perfect for a walk with family, and it is so easy to enjoy the beautifully created landscapes around the tarns. 

As you stroll around the water, you might spot some incredibly rare aquatic flora. The tarns are fed by water that drains through a series of mires, which are rare but incredibly important plant habitats. Small herds of beautiful Belted Galloway cows graze quietly near the Tarn Hows walking paths. The cattle help with the conservation of the Lakes – when a small number of them graze across a large area of ground, they can help to increase the diversity of flora and fauna around that landscape. Plus, they do look rather adorable dotted around the stunning scenery. 

Of course, these beautiful cattle aren't the only reason we think a stroll around Tarn Hows is one of the best Lake District walks, they're just a wonderful addition to the idyllic landscape. 

Tarn Hows – What to Expect

Some of the paths around Tarn Hows can be muddy after a stretch of poor weather, but there are no steep inclines or scrambles on this route. If you don’t fancy wearing your favourite trainers, bring a pair of comfortable walking boots.  

This circular walk around Tarn Hows is fun for everyone, and at just 2 miles long, this walk is accessible for most people, too. The paths around the lake are well-maintained and there is a flatter track to follow if you've got baby buggies or wheelchairs, and the National Trust has a mobility scooter available for use – just call ahead to use it. 

Just a short distance from Coniston and with plenty of car parking, why would you visit any other beauty spot in Cumbria, especially with small children in tow? 

Tarn Hows – The Route, Part 1

3.2km / 1 hour

Starting at Tarn Hows National Trust car park, cross the road and take the left-hand path down to the side of the lake. You’ll need to pass through a gate here and continue on to walk in a clockwise direction around the tarn. 

Now, just follow the path as it winds peacefully around the beautiful water, enjoying the stunning scenery of the Lakelands. At the point where your path crosses the main route, you can choose to continue straight ahead along a level path around the tarn and back to the car park. 

Alternatively at this intersection, you can choose to extend your walk by taking a left and passing through a gate leading uphill. At the upper path, follow the signposts for Coniston, Hawkshead and Old Car Park until you reach the Viewing Car Park. 

Tarn Hows – The Route, Part 2

At this car park, cross the road and pass through the gate. Follow the footpath through the field, keeping the tarn on your right-hand side. In bad weather, this path can get incredibly muddy, so make sure you’ve got your waterproof walking boots on! If you don’t fancy braving the mud, you can take the road back towards the main Tarn Hows car park. 

If you are walking through the fields, stay on the footpath as it runs downhill and up again, before descending to a gate leading back to the main car park. 

Want more? Take a look at our full rundown of the best walks in the Lake District for even more great routes.