logo Walking Britain

Lake District Walk
Tarn Hows & Tom Gill from Coniston

Nat Park - Lake District - Lake District Southern Fells

County/Area - Cumbria

Author - Lou Johnson

Length - 6.5 miles / 10.6 km

Ascent - 1200 feet / 364 metres

Time - 4 hours 30 minutes

Grade - easy/mod

Start - OS grid reference SD303975
Lat 54.368225 // Long -3.074301
Postcode LA21 8EL (approx. location only)

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Tarn Hows & Tom Gill from Coniston Photo from the walk - Tarn Hows & Tom Gill from Coniston Photo from the walk - Tarn Hows & Tom Gill from Coniston Photo from the walk - Tarn Hows & Tom Gill from Coniston Photo from the walk - Tarn Hows & Tom Gill from Coniston Photo from the walk - Tarn Hows & Tom Gill from Coniston
Click thumbnails for larger images.

Tarn Hows is often featured as one of the scenic beauty spots of Lakeland. Its beautiful setting and the surrounding mountain panorama justify its popularity. This Lake District walk enables you to experience Tarn Hows and combines this scenic attraction with the busy regional centre of Coniston. The route uses generally well maintained paths although the tricky descent beside Tom Gill can be slippery in wet weather.

The start is the main pay and display car park (Grid ref SD303975) in Coniston adjacent to the Tourist Information office. Exit the car park and turn right along the B5285 to Hawkshead. The footpath passes Waterhead and follows the road as far as the entrance drive to Boon Crag Farm (grid ref. SD316983). Pass the entranceway and continue on the footpath beside the road to a T-junction (grid ref. SD318984). Turn left and after crossing a small stream, cross the road and take the signed path on the right through the woods towards Tan Hows. At grid ref. SD326989 the path splits. Take the right-hand fork to the upper car park above Tarn Hows.

Reaching the road (grid ref. SD330995), cross over and take the clear high level path ahead. Down on your left you will see Tarn Hows with the lower path on its shore. The higher path gradually descends to join the lower path on the side of the Tarn. Continue walking, with the Tarn on your left, and make an almost complete circuit of the lake until you reach the outfall of Tom Gill (grid ref. SD327998). The path descends on your right just before Tom Gill, with the stream remaining on your left for most of the descent. Care is needed as in places this path can be awkward in descent especially after rain or snow.

The path leads down to the main road from Ambleside to Coniston (grid ref. SD321999). Turn left towards Coniston and follow the path in the field adjacent to the left-hand side of the main road. Cross the road (grid ref. SD320998) towards Yew Tree Farm and take the signed track. Reaching a junction, bear left along a walled track to cross the Holme Ground and Tilberthwaite roads. The onward path is clear and well signed and should be followed all the way back to Coniston.

Please maintain social distancing - keep at least 2 metres away from other walkers.

Maps Ordnance Survey Logo Anquet Maps Logo

Ordnance Survey Explorer OL6Sheet Map1:25kBUY
Anquet OS Explorer OL6Digital Map1:25kBUY
Ordnance Survey Landranger 90Sheet Map1:50kBUY
Anquet OS Landranger 90Digital Map1:50kBUY

It is recommended you take a map. The preferred scale is 1:25k.

GPS files - right click or option-click the button and choose "Save As..." to download this file.

Recommended Books & eBooks

The Cumbria Way

The Cumbria WayA guidebook to the 73 mile Cumbria Way, an easy long-distance walk though the heart of the Lake District National Park, from Ulverston in the south to Carlisle in the north, with good transport links to either end. The route is largely low-level but this guide offers alternative mountain days to climb some of the famous fells en route.
More information

Walking the Lake District Fells - Buttermere

Walking the Lake District Fells - ButtermerePart of the Walking the Lake District Fells series, this guidebook covers a wide range of routes to 32 Lakeland summits that can be climbed from the Buttermere, Lorton and Newlands valleys, with highlights including Haystacks, High Stile, Grasmoor and the fells of the Coledale Round. Suggestions for longer ridge routes are also included.
More information

Outdoor Photography

Outdoor PhotographyThis practical handbook covers digital outdoor photography and the whole range of outdoor activities including walking, running, cycling, water sports (in and on the water), as participant or spectator. Covers basic concepts, equipment and processing and optimising your images back at base.
More information

Social Media

Follow Walking Britain for the latest news.

Facebook Twitter

Walking - Covid 19 update

Regular updates on how Covid 19 will impact on walking in the UK More info.

Mountain Weather

Stay safe on the mountains with detailed weather forecasts - for iOS devices or for Android devices.

Digital Mapping Guide

Digital Mapping Guide - a simple guide of how to start using digital mapping. Includes advice and useful links.