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View our Things to See and Do ideas for the National Trust’s South Lakes area.


Coniston Fells in summer

AMBLE & RAMBLE Tarn Hows This well-known beauty spot offers dramatic mountain views and excellent sheltered waterside walks around the tarn (“tarn” means a small lake). The tarn and surrounding area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest recognised for its wildlife. You may see distinctive Belted Galloway cattle which are helping to maintain the landscape here. It is a perfect place to visit if your time in the Lakes is limited or if you want to get out into the landscape in an easy way. A man-made landscape constructed in the Victorian era it was part of the nearby Monk Coniston estate which was in part gifted to the National Trust by Beatrix Potter, the children‟s author. A popular place with families, it is also a favoured spot for photographers and artists. 

Perfect for families with young children who will find the path around the lake is suitable for baby buggies and there are toilets at the car park. There are grassy areas where you can picnic and the children can play and explore around the lake shore. Check out the

reviews on Trip Advisor. 

There is a car park area for disabled drivers and the path round the lake is suitable for wheelchair users (although there are some small hills) and some mobility scooters.

Look out for … Views of the Coniston Fells and the Langdale Pikes; the “money tree”; Belted Galloway cattle.

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846

AMBLE & RAMBLE Monk Coniston Grounds & Tree Trail Monk Coniston Hall was once home to James Garth Marshall, who was a wealthy flax mill owner from Leeds. Like many Victorians he set out to “improve upon nature”, creating Tarn Hows the popular Lake District beauty spot and planting many exotic conifers around the Monk Coniston estate. Explore the old walled garden and grounds (the house is not open to the public). If you‟d like a longer walk go on up the hill to Tarn Hows to see the rest of Marshall‟s landscape work. Our Things to See and Do page has a link to a walk guide, a trees list and the tree trails introductory leaflet.  

The grounds are ideal for a gentler/family walk, start from Coniston village or Waterhead car park (not National Trust); or arrive in style on SY „Gondola‟. Include as part of a longer, circular walk to Tarn Hows.

Look out for … The walled garden (restored by the National Trust and volunteers in 2009 and now a community growing space), gazebo, sections of ha-ha and of course the exotic trees. AMBLE & RAMBLE Yew Tree Tarn A pretty roadside tarn created in the early 1900s to make the landscape even more beautiful and offer good fishing. This is a sheltered place to enjoy a short walk around this small tarn or a longer walk through woodland. You may also see the black and white Belted Galloway cattle which are helping to maintain the landscape here. 

Parking is at the roadside and is limited to a few cars. The tarn can be enjoyed directly from the car; if you venture out note that the path around it can be wet in places particularly the northern end of it.

Look out for … The sluice gate that controls the water flow; the steep backdrop of Holme Fell; Belted Galloway cattle and nearby Yew Tree Farm which was used as Hill Top in the “Miss Potter” film.

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846

AMBLE & RAMBLE Andy Goldsworthy’s Tilberthwaite Touchstone sculpture Created by internationally acclaimed artist Andy Goldsworthy in a re-built sheepfold in Tilberthwaite near Coniston this is part of his „Sheepfolds‟ project. „Sheepfolds‟ was Cumbria County Council‟s major countywide sculpture project created between 1996 and 2003 and numbers 43 folds across the county. Rather than making new Sheepfolds Goldsworthy committed to working with existing folds, thereby connecting himself directly with the farming tradition and history of Cumbria. 

Although situated close to the car park area the sheepfold is a short walk downhill with no footpath.

Click the link for directions to the sculpture: Tilberthwaite Touchstone Fold Look out for … Yewdale Beck; old slate quarry workings which are everywhere here. AMBLE & RAMBLE Coniston’s Yewdale Valley This low level walk is a great way to enjoy the valley scenery. In late spring and early summer you will see the local Herdwick sheep with their distinctive black lambs (they are born black and go to grey as adults); you‟ll pass a disused lime kiln, part of the area‟s industrial history; and for film buffs, Yew Tree Farm, used in the film „Miss Potter‟ to represent Hill Top. After periods of heavy rain the White Gill also known as White Lady waterfall can be quite impressive. There‟s a link to a downloadable guide for this walk on our Coniston Things to See and Do page. 

Suitable for families with older children or walkers who don‟t mind a medium distance walk but don‟t want to gain too much height.

Look out for … Herdwick sheep, disused lime kiln, Yew Tree Farm, Belted Galloway cattle, the White Lady waterfall. AMBLE & RAMBLE If you liked these you might also like … Blea Tarn, Little Langdale; Wray Castle and grounds; western shore of Windermere.

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846


Coniston Pier – a good place to start a day out

SAIL & TRAIL Sail aboard Steam Yacht ‘Gondola’ Cruise Coniston Water the old-fashioned way on the National Trust's rebuilt Victorian Steam Yacht ‘Gondola’. From Easter to November, enjoy stunning lakeland views from on board this elegant boat. If your time in the Lake District is limited this is a memorable way to make the most of the Coniston area. You can break your trip and disembark at Brantwood and Monk Coniston to explore them further. All sailings are weather permitting, if you are unsure telephone 015394 41288 to check. 

The Gondola runs to a timetable with 45 minute round trip sailings available daily and 90 minute explorer cruises available on selected days. There is a charge which also applies to National Trust members. Search on the National Trust website under ‘Gondola’ for latest timetable and price information.

There is a ramped gangway and steps into ‘Gondola’. Gondola is not wheelchair accessible but is available to people who have use of a wheelchair but are able to walk short distances. Push chairs can be taken on board and well behaved dogs are permitted on leads outside only (free of charge).There is no toilet on board; toilets are located at the LD National Park car park.

Look out for … Brantwood – home of John Ruskin; the Coniston Fells; Monk Coniston estate. 

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846

SAIL & TRAIL On the water Coniston Water is a great lake to explore by water. If you canoe or kayak - free launching is permitted from any public access point, here’s a guide to canoeing on the lake. Launching and boat hire on Coniston Water is available from the Lake District National Park's Boating Centre at Coniston Pier, where’s there’s a charge; here’s their web page link - Coniston Boating Centre. For safety wear a wet suit and use a life jacket when on the lake. If you are one of the growing band of swimmers who enjoy open water swimming then Coniston is a venue for several British Long Distance Swimming Association events. Check their website for information, here’s the BLDSA link . However, if you are planning to swim in the lake remember that it is very cold all year and even in hot weather it will be very cold just beneath the surface so don’t dive or jump in, swim parallel to the shoreline and get yourself used to the temperature gradually. There is a safety boat and lake wardens; there is a maximum speed limit of 10 mph which will be enforced so you should be able to enjoy quiet enjoyment on the lake without fast craft. However watch out for bigger day crafts and the SY Gondola and Coniston Launch which sale regular routes on the lake.  

Suitable for anyone who has some experience of water-based activities already or who is getting tuition as a beginner. Check weather forecasts and be aware that wind conditions can change quickly. There is a car park (not National Trust) adjacent to the boating centre at Coniston Pier which has toilets and various other parking areas. The National Park has produced a map showing the public and private areas of the lakeshore and the Launch / Gondola routes etc Click here for the Coniston Water map.

Look out for … The unique views of the Coniston area from the water including Brantwood; the Coniston Fells, Peel Island (inspiration for Swallows and Amazons) and SY ‘Gondola’ in full ahead mode.

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846

SAIL & TRAIL Coniston Shoreline – eastern shore The National Trust owns many beautiful ancient woodlands in the Coniston area, like those on the east side of Coniston Water (this is on the opposite side from the village) where small-leafed limes and evidence of old coppice and charcoal burning can be found. The minor road here extends the length of the lake. It runs close to the lakeshore and gives many opportunities to enjoy small bays, grassy outcrops and fine views. For the more energetic there are paths up onto the fell and moor above and on into Grizedale Forest too.  

There are a number of small car parks at intervals on the road and easy access to the bays and grassy outcrops on the eastern side of the lake, or travel by SY Gondola, with piers at Brantwood and Parkamoor. Ideal for walks with buggies as it is a proper road surface, but do watch out for cars and bikes!

Look out for … Landmarks on the opposite side of the lake eg The Old Man of Coniston and Coniston Old Hall; the sight of SY Gondola sailing on the lake; Brantwood – home of John Ruskin; Peel Island (inspiration for Wild Cat Island in Swallows and Amazons). SAIL & TRAIL Coniston shoreline – western shore Head south from Coniston pier and you will walk through a range of different habitats. Lowland pasture for sheep and cattle around Coniston Old Hall, woodland south of the sailing club, and the bracken-covered slopes of Torver Back Common by Sunny Bank. Use lake transport in the form of the Coniston Launch and enjoy a linear lakeshore stroll, or if you enjoy longer walks include Beacon Tarn and the Blawith Fells or return to Coniston via Torver Beck and Walna Scar Road.  

The first part of the walk, south from the village is on well made flat paths and is very suitable for families with small children, it is also wheelchair accessible. Beyond Torver jetty the path is a bit more difficult - although still low level, it becomes an undulating, narrow and rougher path etched into the hillside a few metres above the lakeshore.

Look out for … Views across to Brantwood – home of John Ruskin and Peel Island (Wild Cat Island in Arthur Ransom’s ‘Swallows and Amazons’); Coniston Old Hall by the sailing club. Herdwick sheep on Torver Back Common in Spring.

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846

SAIL & TRAIL Orienteering Trail – Tarn Hows Come and try the Trail Orienteering (Trail O) course at Tarn Hows. 'Trail O' is a navigational challenge suitable for anyone regardless of physical ability. The whole course is completed without leaving the high quality footpath that loops around the lake. The challenge lies in working out which of the marker posts at each point is the one on the map. This is not the kind of competitive orienteering done against the clock but is a fun introduction to the sport and ideal for you to do as a family. The maps for the course can be downloaded from the links on our Coniston Things to See and Do web page and there are separate sheets for either standard or advanced levels of ability – don’t forget to download the answers too! Alternatively maps can be collected from the National Trust Landrover in the main Tarn Hows car park, March-Oct. 

Great for a family to do together or maybe have a competition girls v boys! Tarn Hows is a family-friendly location with parking and toilets.

If this has made you curious about orienteering events then check out this orienteering video. Look out for … Views of the Coniston Fells and the Langdale Pikes; the money tree; Belted Galloway cattle; and the marker posts of course! SAIL & TRAIL If you liked these you might also like … Walks accessible by boat from Bowness and Ambleside on Lake Windermere’s quieter Western shore (eg. Wray Castle and grounds; Claife Heights & Hawkshead, Near and Far Sawrey). Orienteering Trail at Low Wray Campsite.

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846


Coniston attracts hikers and bikers throughout the year

HIKE & BIKE Cycling Off-road cycle tracks can be found on the west side of Coniston Water eg.through Yewdale to Tilberthwaite; to Tarn Hows or to Torver. The eastern side of Coniston Water offers a quiet undulating road for cycling (and can be linked to the equally quiet roads of the Rusland Valley further to the East for longer on-road option) or cycle round the lake. Grizedale forest also on the east side of the lake has tailor-made mountain bike tracks for the keen off-road biker. There are a variety of car parks with adjacent or nearby tracks to the forest eg High Cross on Hawkshead Hill or points along the lake’s eastern side eg Dodgsons Wood. Less energetic routes for families or novices and more challenging trails for mountain bikers, the area has them all. Some of these off-road routes have been recently created by the National Trust and are not shown on Ordnance Survey maps; a new leaflet guide to the network is available and also a guide with three family-friendly cycle rides. Check out the links on our Coniston Things to See and Do web page. 

Suitable for all ages and abilities there is a range of cycling available in this valley.

Look out for … The range of scenery and habitat on offer; great picnic stops at Tarn Hows and on the eastern side of Coniston Water, cafes and pubs in Coniston village and Torver.

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846

HIKE & BIKE Serious walking Coniston is a magnet for serious walkers with high mountains such as The Old Man of Coniston here as well as a stretch of the Cumbria Way. Paths vary from the popular to more remote and secluded, taking in ancient woodland, tumbling streams and heath land. Use Coniston village as your starting point or take the Steam Yacht Gondola or Coniston Launch to give you a different starting point. Alternatively you could use bus services to link with adjoining valleys in Hawkshead and Little Langdale and enjoy wonderful longer walks providing endlessly changing perspectives on mountains and lakes. 

Suitable for everyone who likes to walk “seriously”, ie. on longer routes and/or to the tops of named peaks. You can follow established popular routes eg to ascend the Old Man, or if you read OS maps, you can find quiet and solitude on your own routes using public footpaths and bridleways. Before you venture out make sure you are properly equipped (particularly with rainwear and stout boots), have a map of the area and check the weather forecast.

Look out for … The views from any of the higher fells or “commons”; the industrial archaeology and legacy from slate quarrying (particularly round Tilberthwaite and Hodge Close); superb woodlands, including upland oak. HIKE & BIKE If you liked these you might also like … Little Langdale; Claife Heights near Hawkshead – nearby areas offering both hiking and biking opportunities.

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846


a ruin now but Claife viewing station had a glorious past FASCINATING BUILDINGS Wray Castle This “castle” was built in the 1840s as the personal fantasy of James Dawson, of Liverpool, who used his wife Margaret’s family money (made in the spirit trade) to pay for it. It was in fact a domestic house and had just ten family rooms. All the castle’s features eg battlements and arrow slits were purely for show. To keep the cost down whilst maintaining the illusion of grandeur tricks were employed such as using pine wood stained as oak and using normal rubble walls but plastered over and marked with lines to look like large stone blocks. Beatrix Potter’s family rented the house for their summer holiday in 1882 and so she began her love affair with the Lakes. The Castle came to the National Trust in 1929, gifted by Sir Robert Noton Barclay, and has been used diversely since. As a youth hostel and offices, during World War Two it stored exhibits evacuated from London’s museums, and the Merchant Navy used it to train wireless operators. It now awaits its new life as a hotel and day spa. 

Suitable for everyone to enjoy, check opening times; grounds open all year.

Look out for … The “castle” features, and the great views from inside and out.

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846

FASCINATING BUILDINGS Claife Viewing Station In the late eighteenth century guides were written so that tourists could properly appreciate the aesthetic qualities of the landscape. The best viewpoints from which to see the landscape were promoted and Claife was one of the “stations” which grew up at these points following Thomas West’s classic “Guide to the Lakes” which appeared in 1778. Hard to imagine now but in its heyday of the 1830s and 1840s Claife Station hosted parties and dances as well as welcoming early tourists to appreciate the views over Lake Windermere. Visits were made even more interesting by having visitors look through different coloured glass, tinted to give the impression of different seasons, weather or even night. The viewing station fell out of fashion and is now a romantic ruin.  

The ruin sits in an elevated position up a steep track and so is not suitable for less able; children should be supervised. Car parks nearby at Ash Landing or Harrowslack, toilets at Ferry Landing.

Look out for … The views of course, the surrounding oak woodland. FASCINATING BUILDINGS Old Courthouse, Hawkshead The fifteenth century Old Courthouse is all that remains of the manorial farm on this site owned by the monks of Furness Abbey. Before King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in the mid sixteenth century they were very rich and powerful throughout the whole of this area, known as High Furness. Here the villagers would come to pay their rents and tithes, and wrongdoers would be tried and punished (or acquitted). The building used to stand as one side of a range of buildings arranged around a courtyard, the other buildings have gone. It consists of a gatehouse with the court room above. Key from the National Trust Hawkshead Shop.  

Although easily accessible up a short (but sometimes muddy) track, there is no nearby parking. Nearest car park is Hawkshead and then it is approx 1 mile walk on public footpaths across farmland.

Look out for … Views of Latterbarrow with its cairn and the distant Fairfield Horsehoe.


Hawkshead – a pretty village in lovely surroundings

Countryside – Amble & Ramble Hawkshead Village Perfect for an amble or a stroll is Hawkshead village with its largely car-free streets. It is a lovely Lake District village which has many traditional buildings of whitewash and slate. Beatrix Potter, the famous children’s author had a close connection with Hawkshead; she met her husband William Heelis here where he was the local solicitor practising law in the village. You can see original artwork from her books here, held as part of the National Trust’s Beatrix Potter collection, and on display in the Beatrix Potter Gallery. Other historical connections are to William Wordsworth who went to Hawkshead Grammar school. The village has a good variety of cafes and traditional pubs, and shops including a National Trust shop. 

Parking for the village is in the Lake District National Park pay and display car park adjacent to the village. Roads are generally flat and ideal for those less able. Disabled toilet in car park.

Look out for … The Beatrix Potter Gallery; National Trust’s Hawkshead shop; Hawkshead Grammar School; Hawkshead Church.

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846

Countryside – Amble & Ramble Wray Castle Grounds & High Wray Bay Wray Castle is an imposing gothic folly on the western side of Lake Windermere. The extensive grounds around the castle, open to the public all year round provide a lovely place to enjoy the scenic views to the east over the lake, and north west to the Langdale Pikes. The grounds are home to rare and special trees; and farmland pasture sweeps down to the lakeshore. You can enjoy a lovely family day out picnicking beside the lake with lots of green space for the children to enjoy. Go exploring on foot and spot the Gatehouse (now a private dwelling), the church of St Margaret’s (no longer open for worship) and the boathouse at High Wray Bay.    

Car parking in the grounds near the castle. Ideal for families and those who don’t want to walk too far to enjoy a picnic spot. To make it even more of an adventure you could arrive by boat from Ambleside or Brockhole, information from Windermere Lake Cruises (seasonal). Dogs on leads are welcome in the grounds; toilets in the castle when it is open.

Look out for … Stunning views, special trees, the jetty, the boathouse, the church and the gatehouse. Countryside – Amble & Ramble Lake Windermere western shore This is the quieter side of Lake Windermere and from Bowness you can arrive by car ferry (with car or on foot) or launch. Head right at the lakeshore road’s first junction and you will come to the Claife Estate at Harrowslack, with a car park tucked away, and green open space beside the lake. It provides the opportunity to picnic beside the lake, watch the boats and there’s space for the children to play. A lakeshore track heads north from here with generally easy walking, all the way to High Wray Bay. You can walk or cycle.  

Parking is in the National Trust’s Harrowslack car park, toilet facilities at Ferry landing. The car ferry from Bowness-on-Windermere runs every twenty minutes and with a short six minute crossing makes for an easy way to visit; you can leave the car on the Bowness side and use it as foot passengers.

Look out for … Great views from the ferry, Belle Isle on Lake Windermere, Bowness on the other side of the lake.

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846


Hawkshead & Claife – lovely walking & great stiles !

SAIL & TRAIL Latterbarrow from Wray Castle, Red Nab, Harrowslack or Hawkshead Latterbarrow is only around 800ft (250 mtrs) high but its position on the western side of Lake Windermere with no close mountain competitors means it is able to give walkers spectacular views in all directions. There are other hills called Latterbarrow so make sure you get the right one! There is a network of public footpaths from a variety of directions which will get you to its cairn (actually a trig or triangulation point for surveyors and map makers in the days before GPS). Whichever route you choose pick a clear day to make the most of your walk. You will see the high fells to the east & north-east, north & north west, and west. Lake Windermere is laid out below. Depending upon your route, the distance is c 5-6 miles, although by going onto Claife Heights you can make it a longer walk.  

Perfect for families with older children and anyone keen to get a great view and a fantastic picnic spot. You can arrive by boat at Wray Castle (seasonal) or Ferry Landing (possible all year).

Look out for … Views (see how many mountains you can name), boats on Lake Windermere, the Trig point (larger than you might think!)

SAIL & TRAIL Claife Heights from Ferry Landing or Harrowslack or Ash Landing car parks Arrive by boat at Ferry landing or park in the National Trust’s Harrowslack or Ash Landing car parks. From here there are a variety of ways to make your way up onto the high ground of Claife Heights. The most rewarding in terms of varied scenery is to head up towards Far and then Near Sawrey and then up Stoney Lane to Moss Eccles and Wise Een Tarns. From there either follow the white posts route back to Far Sawrey or the signposts in the woods to Belle Grange which is on the Windermere lakeshore (make sure you turn right when you get there and follow the lakeshore south to your starting point). 

For keener walkers who enjoy a longer walk and are confident reading a map and following trails.

Look out for … The village of Far Sawrey (home of a giant marrow competition every September!), the village of Near Sawrey (home to Beatrix Potter for many years), the view of the Langdale Pikes from Wise Een Tarn, Bowness across the lake. SAIL & TRAIL Blelham Tarn from Wray Castle A pleasant circular walk on low ground (can be muddy in places) in the fields around the little gem of Blelham Tarn. This is a great family walk for a sunny summer’s day or a crisp winter’s day as the views towards the Fairfield Horseshoe are very good. However the tarn itself is at a distance and it won’t be possible to paddle or pond dip (do that at Wray Bay when you finish). Instead children can look out for the farm animals along the way and enjoy the stepping stones to get over a small beck. 

Suitable for families with children who enjoy a bit of a walk, not suitable for baby buggies.

Look out for … Wray Castle, Wray Castle Gatehouse (now a private residence) and Wray Church (all part of James Dawson’s gothic revival vision), great views of the Fairfield Horseshoe and Wray Bay.

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846



Hawkshead Courthouse: This building (which is scheduled as an ancient monument), is the only one of its kind in the Lake District. It is not unlike a barn with shippons beneath, such as may be found attached to many local farms. The Gatehouse appears to date from the fifteenth century when it was built by the Cistercian Monastery of Furness (founded 1127). Furness Abbey is in Low Furness, and its beautiful ruins are now in the care of English Heritage. The links between this parish and Furness Abbey were very close and the monks found it necessary to have a manor house here, where the Old Hall now is, with a group of other buildings around, of which this gatehouse is the only one remaining. The manor house has been transformed since then, and some of the connecting buildings were pulled down in 1870, but it is clear that originally there was a quadrangle, with access through the still existing archway. The court room, forming the upper storey of the Gatehouse, is 41 feet long and probably had a dais or raised floor at its Southern end where the Steward or Bailiff of the manor, or the Abbot himself when he occasionally attended, would sit to meet the tenants receive their rents and hear their grievances. The fireplace has dogtooth moulding of the thirteenth century, 200 years older than

The National Trust is a registered charity no. 205846

the building, which suggests that this and some of the other carved stonework were not designed for the gatehouse but were brought up from Low Furness and used here second hand. The rooms on the ground level no longer contain any special features but are in the positions usually occupied by the guardroom and porter’s lodge. In 1537 the abbey was dissolved and its estates dissipated. The courthouse was given to the National Trust in 1932 by the owner Mr H.S. Cowper, F.S.A. From: “The Lake District and the National Trust” by B.L.Thompson – Titus Wilson & Son 1946

interior of the Courthouse


Beatrix Potter makes it look very romantic here in her watercolour

[Information prepared for Heritage Open Day scheme where a number of the UK’s historic buildings are open to the public free of charge for a few days each Sept; this one is free of charge all year.]

Things to see and do in South Lakes  
Things to see and do in South Lakes  

Visitor information for National Trust places to visit in South Lakes