A Circuit of Thirmere

29th June 2024

We'd set our sights on returning to Dufton to walk High Cup Nick again and by Tuesday it looked like we had a green light with sunny spells and high cloud forecast but by Thursday the forecast had deteriorated, and by Friday it looked like we'd need a pair of waders instead of walking boots.

David, Rod and I were exchanging emails on where to walk, it was gone 8:00pm when I jumped into the thread still scoffing my tea down and reading at the same time, jeez the lads were right it was a wash out. I put my two penneth in by adding 'why not meet at the long layby outside Grasmere and weigh up our options from there.

I arrived around 7:30am, it was bucketing down with cloud so low it was only just clearing the roof tops. Rod arrived and David soon after who both jumped into my car as we threw in a few suggestions 'Stone Arthur and Fairfield' was a no go and so to was Silver How and Loughrigg until I chipped in 'how about a circuit of Thirlmere' we all agreed, span the cars around and headed over Dunmail Raise towards Thirlmere.

Wainwright Guide Book Three
The Central Fells

Ascent: 1,800 Feet - 549 Metres
Wainwrights: N/A
Weather: Rain Throughout The Morning, Low Cloud Slowly Lifting towards Midday. Highs of 15°C Lows of 12°C
Parking: A591 Turnip Coner (Bridge End Farm)
Area: Eastern
Miles: 10.7
Walking With: David Hall & Rod Hepplewhite
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 4 Hours
Route: Turnip Corner - Bridge End Farm - Thirlmere Dam - Road West of Thilmere - Armboth - Dob Gill - West Head Farm - Wythburn - A591 - Forestry Track to Swirls - Swirls - Shore Path East of Thirlmere - Dale Head - Greathow Wood - Turnip Corner

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA12 4TG
Grid Reference: NY 316 914


Map and Photo Gallery


Raven Crag from Thirlmere Dam 8:10am 14°C

Within ten minutes we arrived at the aptly named Turnip Corner facing the Dam road and Bridge End Farm. The rain had eased into a drizzle and we decided not to add over-trousers for now opting to walk in shorts and waterproof jackets including David's new Paramo windproof smock.

It was a mild morning and we were surprised to see how busy the campsite was at Bridge End Farm where a group of Duke of Edinburgh school children dressed in full waterproofs were getting ready to leave. Continuing further we passed through the concrete barrier prior to reaching the Dam proper, access to the the road west of Thirlmere can now be gained from either Wythburn or the Shoulthwaite junctions.

Two maps of Thirlmere 200 years apart.
The map on the left was taken between 1800s-1830s and shows Thirlmere pre-dam. Back then two large tarns named Leathes Water to the north and Wythburn Water to the south were separated by a land bridge at Armboth.

Murky Thirlmere from the Dam.
With Great How over on the left.

Manchester Corporation Waterworks.
Manchester Corporation Waterworks This Road Over The Embankment Was Opened By Alderman Sir Bosdin Thomas Leach Deputy Chairman Of The Waterworks Commitee 12th October 1894

Raven Crag from the 'Triangle Carpark'
After crossing the dam we arrived at the newly signed 'Triangle Carpark' from where a misty Raven Crag loomed directly above.

Looking back on Raven Crag from the west road.
More cloud arrived accompanied by drizzle as we began the 5 mile walk along the west shore of Thirlmere. Despite the drizzle and odd dog walker it was really peaceful along here.

A glimpse of Thirlmere.
The drizzle continued causing the front of my shorts to get wet but it was so mild I hardly noticed. Not long before I took this photo David rescued a Newt perched in the middle of the road and with the help of a piece of cardboard he scupped it up and dropped it in the undergrowth.

Sandstone gateposts.
This pair were one of three we found along the road as we passed through Armboth above the Fishercrag Plantation / Birch Coppice. Still standing and in remarkable good condition.

Birch Coppice.
Looking vibrant in the rain.

Rough Crag close to Hause Point.

We left Armboth behind and passed below Rough Crag were large boulders had been left in an effort to deter car parking.

Despite the clean-up we passed fresh debris along here and on closer inspection the tell tale signs of exposed tree roots and channelled rock fall confirmed that the rock was still unstable.

Deergarth How and Hawes How island's.
The earlier map shows Deergarth How and Hawes How islands connected to the mainland and present day where both are now island's in the reservoir. Great to see how both island's have remained heavily wooded.

Beyond the bracken...
Another view of Thirlmere, the cloud is really low now.

Passing over Dob Gill before it flows into Thirlmere.
Dob Gill was soon reached where it was nice to see an almost full car park. I have many early memories of visiting Harrup Tarn and Blea Tarn unrecorded in my early days of a fell walker from Dob Gill.

Dob Gill past and present.
My curser on the present map on the right shows were Dob Gill flows into Thirlmere. The arrow on the left is the same postion which clearly shows the southern tip of Wythburn Water half a mile away. Pre dam the area was farmland and homestead known as May Green.

Views into Wythburn from Stockhow Bridge.
The rain turned heavier to the point we were contemplating stopping to add over-trousers but it eased again as we neared Steel End, Wythburn. It was here we were passed by tourists on bikes all friendly and mornings were shared.

Crossing the A591 at Wythburn.
With the first leg behind us it was time to head on the east side of Thirlmere, to do this we first crossed the A591 and picked up the forestry track below Birk Side.

Steel Fell from the Forestry Track.
We'd been walking on tarmac for the best part of 5 miles and with hardly to no ascent gained I for one kept quiet when my calfs groaned at the steady gradients as we gained the forestry track.

Nab Crags over Wythburn.
With a glimpse of Thirlmere below.

Forestry Track back to Swirls.
By now we were starting to cross paths with folk heading for Birkside or Dunmail Raise, it looked like they'd been waiting for the rain to stop until they began their journeys unlike us who looked like three drown't rats! The good news was it appeared to have stopped raining and hopefully we can dry out.

Birk Side from Whelpside Gill.
It looked like the cloud was finally beginning to lift but with that said, views in every direction were murky at best.

Views of Fisher Crag, Raven Crag and Thirlmere.

Castle Rock, Legburthwaite.

With Thirlmere to the west we glanced over at trodden ground paths only appearing between gaps in the woodland, they still looked as quiet as when we left them. Just the odd car below on the A591 as we approached a busy Swirls carpark from where we could see walkers heading up Browncove Crags before they disappeared into cloud well below its summit. We had the option to take the footpath that passes Fisherplace Gill but opted to stick as close to the Thirlmere shoreline as possible which meant passing through the tunnel below the A591 before emerging on the other side. We could see Thirlmere now but quickly lost our view as we descended the bracken flanked path into woodland where we were passed by a dozen girls riding gravel bikes.

Thirlmere came and went as the foliage thickened where the path was at its narrowest. We passed Dalehead Hall before the path rises quite steeply in places. Great How ahead now as we steer right below its heavily wooded flanks the A591 stirring below. Through a gap in the trees we could look back on Stybarrow Dodd, Raise, White Side and Browncove Crags where the cloud had lifted, still murky though. Hot now and the sound of traffic as we began our descent towards Bridge End Farm emerging onto the A591 we scurried across the road towards our cars with views of Castle Rock beyond and for a few seconds St-John's-in-the-Vale came into view where I spotted cloud peeling away from the top of Bram Crag.

Wythburn Water.
Abraham's series No. 201 postcard with Wythburn Water in the foreground and Leathes Water in the distance (Copyright: Sue Steinberg copyright holder of the Abraham's estate)


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