Cartmel Fell Tarns

This 4 mile walk (under 2 hours) starts at the historic little church and climbs steadily past two tarns to give some good views, returning gently through varied countryside.

From Bowland Bridge go over the bridge and part way up the hill turn left and follow the signs to the church. Park near the parish hall. (Grid ref.: 417880) and start walking towards the church.

[The hall was built as a school in 1872 and closed in the mid 1960s. Many of the children had a long way to walk to get to school here and often had to spend the day in wet clothes. On the left as you go towards the church you will see a rock slide polished by the breeches of many generations of children.]

At the church porch, turn left and aim for the corner of the churchyard near the wooden seat. Go through the squeeze stile and continue uphill through the woodland to the road. Turn right, and immediately right again and follow the road for about 5 minutes as far as the second gate on the left which has a tarmac and concrete entrance. Follow the track uphill and where it forks, turn left on the bridleway marked with blue arrows. Through the gate, keep right on the main track which continues to climb and gives good views at first to the east [you should recognise Whitbarrow and later to the south. Where this track begins to become grassy and indistinct, look ahead. Your target is a partly ruined building about 250 yards away, but the track bears left before turning right and going through a gate beside a wood with pines and rhododendrons.

[The abandoned building was once known as Heights Cottage. Note the damson trees in the overgrown orchard and the field on the right]

The track turns to the right and then sharp left, following the wall on the left and marked by blue arrows. A gate leads into woodland. Look for a small post about 50 yards before the next gate and turn right following the yellow footpath arrow. In a couple of minutes you will emerge beside a secluded tarn.

[You are likely to see dragonflies here in the summer months and maybe also ducks and other wildlife.]

If the path round the tarn is not too muddy, continue across the dam and follow it as it bears left through the woodland to a gate. In the field continue at the base of the steep bank on your right to a marker post and then towards a broken wall ahead. Follow the wall to the left until you rejoin the bridleway marked by the blue arrows. If the path is very muddy, retrace your steps to the bridleway and follow the blue arrows through the gate and across the field to the broken wall.

[Here you will see the second, larger tarn. These tarns were constructed at the turn of the century for shooting and fishing.]



Continue past the tarn (there are plenty of blue arrows to keep you on course) and up the hill heading to the left of Sow How farm to a junction with another track. Turn left and follow this track for 10 minutes, ignoring footpath signs, to the hamlet of Foxfield where it turns into a tarmac road. 5 minutes later, look for a footpath on the left, after a sharp right hand bend in the road. Through the gate, follow the track as it bends to the left and then takes a sharp right turn between two walls. After a gate, the track continues through a bracken-covered field and crosses a bridge over a sizeable beck. 100 yards later leave the track where it bears right and take the footpath on the left, which passes between some alder and birch trees before heading uphill through the bracken. (This junction is not signposted - if you miss the turning, do not worry, continue to the road and turn left and left again at the next junction.) A stile with a gate leads you through deer-fencing into a woodland plantation where the path is clearly visible.

[This wood contains a wide variety of trees including birch, oak, holly, larch, sycamore, spruce and yew. How many can you identify?]

Another high stile and gate bring you out into the open. Take the right hand fork in the path and continue over a stile in a wall. Yellow arrows are back! Beat tight to the next stile which takes you into the road: cross and follow the footpath signed to St Anthony's Church or return by the road.

[The church dates back to 1504 and escaped the Victorian passion for rebuilding. The glass in the eastern window is even older and may have been brought here from Cartmel Priory. The three-decker pulpit and the enclosed family pews are also of historical interest.]