Ask almost anyone for a family friendly walk in the Lake District and Tarn Hows is highly likely to be one of their answers. And rightly so. This is a beautiful circular family walk around the Tarn, with a wide and easily navigable footpath… AND it’s suitable for pushchairs!
Being an infamous family walk does mean that it can get very busy on peak summer days. So we advise to get there early and go off peak if you can, or accept that it can get rammed. There are toilets in the car park and although no cafe, there is often an ice cream van in the car park.
The car park is located at grid reference 326996 on OS map OL7. Parking charges apply unless you’re a member of the National Trust.
The circular walk around the tarn is well signed. Simply cross the road from the car park, walk down towards the water and head left, through a gate. Follow the path, keeping the water on your right all the way round. The path is undulating, but easily manageable with a pushchair.
If you’re able and want a little more adventure, there are two additional non-pushchair options. First are the Tom Gill Falls. If it’s been raining heavily it’s well worth the 0.5km diversion to see them. After you’ve gone through the first gate, you’ll see a footpath sign pointing left to take you to the falls. Retrace your steps and you can continue round the Tarn.
Secondly you can climb up Tom Heights, again this isn’t pushchair friendly, but maybe you have a sling? Once you’re through the first gate, and you’ve passed the footpath on your left to the falls, continue on for about 150 metres and you’ll see a bench on your left. Turn left and walk up the hill away from the main path.
In summer this path can get covered in bracken. Our 2 and 5 year olds were swamped by it, but still enjoyed the adventure! You get to a cairn which you might think is the top, but keep following the path until you get to the next “top” and then carry on until you reach the actual top!
You’ll get great 360 degree views and can see the sea, Coniston Old Man, the Langdale Pikes and many more. Carry on the path, until you get a choice to go straight or right. We always recommend carrying a map, and this particular stretch you might feel you need to use it, as the path isn’t that obvious. Take the right path and keep heading down through some boggy bits and yet more bracken until you see a wall and reach a solid path.
Turn right on this path and after about 400 metres you’ll rejoin the main Tarn circular path. There are plenty of benches for picnics, trees to climb, bushes to hide behind and lake shore areas to throw stones and paddle if the weather is right.
Continue round and the path leads you back to the car park. We took 2.5 hours and it was approx 2.5 miles. Without the detour up Tom Heights it would be less than 2 miles.
Afterwards we jumped in the car and drove through Coniston and out to Torver, to one of our favourite family pubs in the Lakes, The Wilsons Arms. Free parking, huge portions, friendly staff and a huge beer garden for the kids to burn off any energy that they might have left!
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