This medium length walk from Hawkshead takes us up to Tarn Hows and then on to Black Crag, the fell that the tarn belongs to. Black Crag is a fantastic viewpoint, standing apart from nearby higher ground, so there are sweeping views in every direction, including an excellent view into Little Langdale and a rare view of Esthwaite Water.
Length: 7 miles
Map: OL 7 Lakes South-East
Last Walked: April 2013
We start in the square outside the Hawkshead Co-op.
1: SD 352 982
Head north up the main street towards the Red Lion Inn. Just as you pass the inn turn left onto Wordsworth Lane (formerly Leather, Rag and Putty Street). Head west along this lane, which soon turns into Vicarage Lane and climbs gently out of the village.
Just outside the village turn right on a signposted public right of way. Follow this path diagonally across a large field. We then briefly join a track than runs along the edge of a small patch of woodland. At the edge of the woodland we cross a small stream (look for the impressive little ravine to the right of the path). This brings us into another large field - follow the path across the middle of this field, climbing gently for most of the way, before eventually we drop down to a minor road.
2: SD 339 986
Turn left onto this road and follow it into Hawkshead Hill (carefully as this is a fairly busy road). In Hawkshead Hill turn right onto a rather quieter road, which climbs up towards a road junction where it crosses a slightly bigger road. Ignore the first road that joins from the right. Turn left onto the larger road then almost immediately back onto our side road (effectively head straight ahead at each branch).
After a short distance a footpath branches off to the left. Follow this path as it runs roughly parallel to the road. It then enters the woods around Tarn Hows and reaches a crossroad of paths - head straight across here and follow this path as it continues to run parallel to the road, which we eventually re-join just above Tarn Hows.
3: SD 330 994
Turn left onto the road and follow it towards the tarn. The road runs past the southern end of the tarn, heading towards the National Trust car park, toilets and often at least one excellent food van. From the car park follow the paths that lead down to the tarn and then turn left and follow the path that runs across the dam that gives Tarn Hows its current shape and head up the western side of the tarn.
4: NY 330 004
At the top end of the tarn the path splits, with one branch curving right to continue around the water and the other heading on straight ahead. Follow the straight path, which soon brings us to a rather rocky lane. Turn right onto this lane and follow it to a signposted right of way that leaves to the left, heading up hill on a good track.
5: NY 336 005
Turn left onto this track and follow it through Iron Keld, a former plantation now being returned to a more natural state (with the help of a herd of cows on my last visit). Follow the track all the way through the plantation. At the far end follow the track through a gate, then immediately turn right onto a clear path (not marked on most OS maps) that heads north-east across some undulating country, before climbing up to the summit of Black Crag.
6: NY 340 015
After visiting the summit retrace your steps along this path back to the Iron Keld track. Just inside the plantation turn left onto a path signposted for Sunny Brow. This brings us to a forest track, where we turn right. Follow this track back to the rocky lane we left earlier and turn left onto the lane. Follow the lane as it runs down hill into Knipe Fold.
7: SD 341 994
Turn right onto the road at Knipe Fold. After a short distance the road splits in two - take the left-hand branch and follow it as it runs generally down hill, eventually reaching the Hawkshead-Hawkshead Hill road. Turn left onto this road and follow it down to the main road to Hawkshead.,
8: SD 349 987
Turn left onto the main road and then almost immediately turn right onto a footpath that runs alongside Black Beck. This eventually brings us to a footbridge across the stream - cross the bridge and follow the track back to the main road - cross the road and follow the signposted footpath that cuts through the buildings of Hawkshead and back to the centre of the village.