A Tarn Hows Circuit

25th September 2011

This walk was touch & go, & more touch than go If I might add. The niggling right knee injury is still haunting me so much so that for the second weekend running I was going to sit this one out…Paul doesn’t do sitting out, in fact I’d be more annoying, sulky & under the feet if I stayed at home so all week I’ve laced myself with more toxins, potions & concoctions that would make a witch puke…well not really but you get the gist?

Things didn’t turn out quite as intended with this little excursion for you see I had read about Wainwrights Scots Pine, A solitary Scots Pine Tree that stood at the Hodge Close junction Yewdale, this one little paragraph gave me ambition to find this tree, if, & a big if…it was still there, I had read the evening before that the tree had sadly been blown over during storms, but I still wanted to see it for myself.

I wanted to see the Scots Pine with my own eyes.



Wainwright Guidebook

The Southern Fells

-The Scots Pine, Yewdale:

In the district were without lakes and mountains it would still be very lovely because of the great wealth and variety of its trees.    Most regular visitors will have their own favourite individual specimens and greet them like old friends year by year as acquaintance is renewed. Here, almost opposite the Hodge Close  road junction, is a solitary Scots Pine that the author has long admired.


Ascent: 2,200 Feet, 671 Meters
Wainwrights: 2, Black Fell (Black Crag) & Holme Fell
Weather: Overcast Am, Turning Brighter Towards Midday, Highs Of 17° Lows Of 13°
Parking: Tarn Hows Pay & Display, Yewdale
Area: Southern
Miles: 6.7
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken:  

Map and Photo Gallery



8:05am Tarn Hows Car park  13°

The drive in was uneventful except for a couple of things I noted, this morning was for the first time this year I had left the house in the dark &  it was up until I got to Jnc 35 on the M6 that I switched the car headlamps off, only to switch them back on again as I left the Windermere road & hit dense fog patches on the narrow lanes of Skelwith Bridge & towards Yewdale.

This fills me with giddiness, I love winter Lakeland & more than that I love Autumn in Lakeland, this calls for a compilation cd put together that I had reminiscence of the previous winter, I search the glove box & whack it in the cd player, track one; Here’s looking at you kid, by the Gaslight Anthem this a droning melancholy sound that for me, among other tracks I had on this compilation can only survive on a winter compilation cd.

£6.50 is what you will be charged for parking at Tarn Hows all day, but before you spit your drink out all over the screen, think about this; what other worldly exercise can you do & take in such splendour atmospheric scenery for £6.50?

Its not very often us readers & lovers of the fells have to pay high cost for parking, £3.00 here £4.00 there, its absolutely nothing compared to what we take away…


Tarn Hows Reflections.

It is just a short walk to the tarn from the car park when I was greeted by a moody low lying cloud just nipping the tree tops, It was just me, & me alone to soak in the wonderful atmosphere before the crowds got here.


Autumn Reflections.


My plan today was navigate the east path around the Tarn & pick up the path for Black Fell at the head of the Tarn.


Looking back at a peaceful & reflective Tarn Hows, there’s no getting away with it, Autumn is here.



The Money Tree.

Now where did I put my pliers!!


With Black Fell ahead it was time to leave the main path for this sty situated between the trees.


Passing through the Iron Keld plantations towards Black Crag, the paths here are really well sign posted for such a small fell & I’m guessing that’s to do with the amount of visitors Tarn Hows gets. The map may show trees along here but sadly they are long gone.


Early morning mist clinging to the hill side as I take first glimpse of Black Fell’s summit.


Tell him bog off Fred!!!


Black Fell (Black Crag) summit Trig Point.


Sadly I was looking forward to views towards the Eastern fells from the summit but not today.


After leaving the summit I head north west through the Arnside Plantation, again, the paths here are quite straight forward to follow only for the fact that today, they are boggier than a boggy thing, in fact if you want any idea how boggy this section was the only way I can describe it is, if you were to roll a carpet over a swimming pool & try walking over it would give you some idea!


Looking back up towards Black Fell (the small pointy peak centre right background) from my descent.


High Arnside Farm was always in view from the summit & was a nice little marker to aim for as the path I needed passes right by.


Crossing the busy A593, my route would take me straight ahead here & towards my next target of the day, the disused Hodge Close Slate Quarry.


Hodge Close is just under a mile away as I take in the secluded lanes around Oxen Fell.


The idyllic Low Oxen Farm.


And a little further up the road, High Oxen Farm.


It wasn’t before long that I reached the steep path that would lead me down to the quarry floor, I had my doubts here was my knee going to be ok on such a steep descent, but with careful traction I made it safely to the bottom.


The Parrock Quarry close by.

The vertical steep walls of the quarry are simply amazing, the picture sadly doesn’t really grasp the enormity of just how vast & steep the quarry sides really are.


The Arch, Hodge Close Quarry.

Hodge Close Quarry was a working quarry throughout the 19th 20th century’s & only ceased operation on a smaller scale sometime during the 1960’s, it really is a formidable place.


Hodge Close Quarry.


All that’s left of the wrecked steel crane which lead into neighbouring Parrock Quarry.


Hodge Close Quarry is just one of many slate workings in the Tilberthwaite Valley, between Langdale & Coniston.

I beat a hasty retreat, I feel a tad uncomfortable which leaves me feeling kind of weird, cocooned within these deep walls with only one way in & one way out (unless your are a diver or abseiler) of course.

I don’t look back as I make for the narrow rocky path & back out of the quarry floor, I hear voices, then I spot two teenagers scrambling down the steep rock strewn path wearing only trainers & flat shoes for the young girl, I wait patiently for the young girl in her leggings & cant stop staring at her footwear, I have to say something…’that’s really not the kind of footwear you want to be wearing down here with a cheeky grin I say’ Her boyfriend has passed me in his Adidas trainers holding what looks like sandwiches from the local store, Hurry up! he shouts at his girlfriend, she is by now wondering where to put her flat sole-less none entity of a shoe next, ‘He’s waiting for ya, get a move on’ I do the only thing and be a gent & grab her hand & guide her down an outcrop of solid wet rock, it is worth it I say, but please be careful.

I exit the quarry like a mole out of his tunnel & search the path for Holme Ground.


Back on terraferma as I make my way across Holme Ground & Holme Fell bound.


After leaving the path & taking a left I take a small hike up through some shrubbery which then opens up to reveal my first sight of the rocky outcrops leading up towards  Holme Fell summit.


Looking across to Wetherlam & the small hamlet of Tilberthwaite towards the bottom right.


A close up of Tilberthwaite.

It was while descending a small hill I had climbed to take this & the last picture that I slip & fall onto my back, my pack took the brunt out the fall but my right knee clambered up at an almost 45° angle with my whole weight on it.

I pick my self up, & brush myself down, I’m soaking but I can walk, its that millisecond when you think, that’s the knee gone!


Lingmoor Fell & the far distant Langdales from my ascent.


Holme Fell summit cairn.


Commanding views down the whole length of Coniston.


This, a second substantial Cairn found close by the summit with views over towards Holme Fell Tarn, Lingmoor Fell & the Langdales.


As I leave the summit I make my way down to this cairn/crossroads, Left here would take you towards the Holme Fell Tarn & Holme Ground, ahead will take you over the rough crags of the summit & back down towards Oxen Fell & the A593, or right as I did, Yew Tree Tarn but first…


Harry Guards Wood.

With not too long to go before I reach the bottom of the hill side I now start to see walkers in there dozens passing me on there way up, I have had my turn on the Fells & was lucky enough to have them all to myself, this leaves Paul a happy boy.


Views down towards Yew Tree Tarn & the A593,

Yew Tree Tarn is properly one of Lakelands most assessable Tarns, The local land owner at the time dammed the Yewdale Beck in the 1930’s & stocked piled it with brown trout which even today is still governed by the Coniston and Torver Angling Association.

As I pass Yew Tree Farm a little lower down the fell side my aim here was to have a stroll up the A593 for about 600yards or so, this was going to be far more difficult than I first imagined, with the A593 snaking & winding its way through Yewdale at first glance I second thought this Idea, with no real footpath or Bridleway to take me this last 600yards of my journey, to see if the Scots Pine is still there, I am let down by the lack of a path, I really don’t want to face the traffic on foot with so many blind bends, it seems my adventure stops here & as I watch more & more walkers kit up besides the farm I bow my head & head for the Tom Gill Car Park which in turn will lead me to Tom Gill Waterfall.

As I wait to cross the A593 my mood picks up slightly, a dozen tractors ranging from what looks like the 1920’s to present hurtling at full speed along the highway, never in their lives I’m thinking have these work horses been out of first gear & here they are at top speed, the farmers with huge smiles ear to ear all in the name of charity.

This picks my mood up a little.


Tom Gill Waterfalls.

Although my walk hadn’t turned out quite the way I wanted it I think for now the yearning for the Scots Pine is laid at rest until my next visit to Yewdale, even though the Scots Pine may not be there I want to see this tiny corner of Lakeland, A place that Alfred Wainwright held so special.


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