Lake District Love Letters #3: Easedale Tarn

Today, I bring you another walk from Wordsworth’s Grasmere, which is a good choice when the weather isn’t excellent (as so often happens in the Lake District!): it doesn’t visit the tops of any fells, but the scenery is interesting and varied even in wet and cloudy weather. Just bring the correct footwear, as the walk can get pretty boggy in places. The total distance is around 10 km (6 miles) and the round trip takes around 3 hours.

The walk

Sourmilk Ghyll en route to Easedale Tarn

From Grasmere centre (opposite the village green), head northwest up Easedale road. You can take the short permissive path through scenic woodland after a few 100 m to avoid walking on the road. Soon, the path opens into a broad field with cattle grazing, and you will see the waterfall of Sourmilk Ghyll spilling down the hillside in the distance. This is our first objective. There are three waterfalls named ‘Sourmilk Ghyll’ in the Lake District, presumably because their seething white waters resemble milk that has turned sour.

Soon the path leaves the field to rise steeply via a rock staircase on the left side of the ghyll. It is a refreshing prospect as the climbing gets tougher, but this water is not suitable for drinking due to the bogland above the waterfall, which is usually littered with sheep droppings. You have been warned!

Herdwick Sheep among bracken
Herdwick sheep in Far Easedale

Once you reach the top of the ghyll, the path heads left and crosses the bog via stepping stones to reach the high and lonely tarn. The tarn was carved out by a glacier which melted at the end of the last ice age, around 11,000 years ago. It is approximately 480 metres (1,570 ft) long and 300 metres (980 ft) wide, and lies about 910 feet or 280 metres above sea level. The tarn marks the starting point of many stunning fell walks, including to Tarn Crag immediately overlooking the water, or to the summit of Sergeant Man, from which it is possible to descend to the Great Langdale valley. But today we will retrace our steps to cross the head of the ghyll via stepping stones, and descend via the valley of Far Easedale, where you will likely meet a few of the Lake District’s hardy native sheep breed: the Herdwick.

fell above mountain lake
Tarn Crag above Easedale Tarn

Literary Heritage

The final section of the walk via Far Easedale passes through Lancrigg woods, where Dorothy Wordsworth often walked with her brother William. There is a memorial stone to Dorothy in the woods, where it is claimed (in Latin) that she sat while discussing poetry with her brother. You can read all about how she helped William by transcribing and reading aloud his poetry in her fascinating Grasmere Journals: a true snapshot of Lake District life in the early 19th century.

I hope you enjoyed this Lake District Love Letter! You can find more of my Lake District images at Instagram, via the hashtag #lakedistrictloveletters.

Easedale valley
The Easedale Valley, looking towards Grasmere

24 thoughts on “Lake District Love Letters #3: Easedale Tarn

Add yours

  1. It’s so beautiful, Ingrid. Thanks for sharing!

    I’ve read Dorothy’s own words on the famous daffodils. I think he borrowed from her words, as well as she transcribing his.

      1. For me, it’s about challenging (and keep trying) the present to live the much-awaited inspiring life. Means, I do the tasks which build me stronger.

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