MONK CONISTON, TARN HOWS & BOON CRAG

 


Summary

Date - (1) 8th July 2020, (2) 24th June 2008 Distance -(1) 6 miles, (2) 5 miles
Ascent -
880ft
Map - OL7 Start point - Monk Coniston car park (SD 3163 9786)

 

Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk

 

Preface

Tetley had he iPad in paw, and said, "things are really getting back to normal as Dad has a pretty full diary this coming week. At Elaine's on Monday, and sitting inside once again, then I am sure he will be going to The Ship on Thursday for the first time in four months."

"I know", replied Allen. "Dad is really excited about being able to have lunches and sit inside once again. It has been a long few months with the lockdown, and not easy all for him at times."

"I am just thankful for Dad that the anxiety has gone and he is feeling like his old self again", went on Southey. "We are so lucky to live here and get to go on our walks."

"So what about a walk this week then", said Allen.

"There is only Tuesday and Wednesday available as Dad is having the cracked windscreen on the car replaced on Friday", replied Tetley. He then navigated to the Met Office app. "Hmm, looks like it will have to be Wednesday, as the forecast for Tuesday is heavy rain most of the time."

"So we need to come up with a plan", replied Southey.

"Quite", agreed Allen, "but tea and cakes first", as he had spotted Shaun, Grizzly and Little Eric arriving.

"Oh yes", said Southey, "I'm hungry."

"You sound like Dad", laughed Grizzly.

Tetley had got the plates and mugs, then lent a paw to help Shaun pour the tea.

"Thanks pal", said Shaun.

Little Eric announced, "Grizzly has made Chorley cakes, as they seem to be a favourite. From me there is chocolate topped flapjack."

So we all dug in and sat contentedly enjoying the delicious cakes.

"Both are scrumptious", said Allen.

"Yes they are", went on Tetley.

They were disappearing fast, as our thoughts turned to walks, Southey saying, "Tetley has said there is just Wednesday when Dad will be available and the weather will be fine."

"It would be nice to be in the Lake District again, although I am not saying we should suggest a hill", mused Little Eric.

Allen said, "you know that Dad is reviewing the pictures on walks from earlier years where he did not use the CR2 files, and Tetley and I were watching as he assessed which to consider. 2008 is the first year and I noted that we walked from near Coniston to Tarn Hows with Uncle Eric. Dad took so few pictures that we could not write a story. How about we consider doing that again."

"I think that is a good idea", agreed Grizzly, as he booted the laptop. "I am sure it was a walk published in the Westmorland Gazette, so I can look down the walks index spreadsheet to find it."

Tetley said, "if I recall correctly we just did the route from Monk Coniston to Tarn Hows and back. There is an option to walk round the tarn, which would add to the distance and interest."

Grizzly piped up, "found it. Number 351."

So with Allen's help, Southey lifted the binder carefully down off the shelf. "Phew, it's a bit heavy pal."

Soon the page from the newspaper was in paw, Allen saying, "I'll go now and see what Dad thinks."

We all kept our paws crossed, and seeing the smile on Allen's, on his return, knew this had been successful. "It's on", he cheered. "Dad is really looking forward to doing this again."

"Great", cheered Little Eric. "Let's hope the weather forecast stays the same."


24th June 2008
Tetley was quite right in that on this day with Uncle Eric, we did not extend the walk to include the circuit of Tarn Hows. At the time Dad had not created our website so as a consequence generally he took few pictures, which was the case here. So the story reflects the day in 2020, but we have included a couple from 2008. One of the information centre and toilets at the main car park that had just opened weeks earlier, and the other of a Herdwick lamb.

 

The Walk

Being about and hour to drive to the start, Dad resolved to set off soon after 08:30, so an early rise for us to get the picnic made.

Tetley said, "Dad does not intend to take a picnic, rather go to a cafe afterwards in Coniston to support the local businesses. So I suggest we have our picnic then,"

"Fine", said Allen. "Then I do not have to carry it in my rucksack, rather leave it in the car."

Although it is months and months since we were in the Lake District, the drive seemed ever so familiar. Up the M6 then towards Kendal to then take the A590 Barrow road. Leaving this at Greenodd, after a few miles we branched right to Torver.

"Oh" breathed Little Eric. "It is so good to see the fells and mountains again.

From Torver it was just a few miles to Coniston village taking the Hawkshead road and then shortly go right on the road round the east side of Coniston Water to almost immediately reach the car park.

Dad paid the fee, using his debit card, as cash was not being accepted.

"How much?", asked Grizzly.

"£7, lad."

"Wow, we know we are definitely in the Lake District then", he replied. "The charges are so much more reasonable in Lancashire. The day maximum rates being less than £2.50."

While Dad got ready we trotted down to the lake shore to take in the view. "That's Coniston Old Man", pointed Allen.

"We have had some wild days climbing that in the past", remarked Tetley. "Snow I recall, then on another day strong westerly winds. We could not wait to get below the summit on the descent for calmer conditions."

"I'm ready", called out Dad.

"OK", replied Little Eric, as we dashed to settle in the rucksack.

Shaun pointed, "there's the sign for our route."

This pointed through a gate to walk the wide grassy swathe across the meadow of the Monk Coniston estate, that is owned by the National Trust.

"So Grizzly, have you anything you can tell us about the Monk Coniston estate?", asked Little Eric.

"Yes pals. In 1835 the estate was sold by the Knott family to James Garth Marshall, who was responsible for the creation of Tarn Hows. After his fortune declined, the house and gardens were sold to a Mr J P Bradshaw, in 1926. The rest of the estate, including all the farmland and Tarn Hows, was purchased in 1930 by Beatrix Potter, so saving it from developers who wanted to plant the land for commercial forestry. She sold half of this at cost price to the National Trust (NT), which bought the land with a large donation by Sir Samuel Scott of Windermere. The remainder passed to the NT after Beatrix's death in 1943. In 1945 the NT purchased the hall and gardens, reuniting the estate once more.
Since then, Monk Coniston Hall has been leased by the NT to HF Holidays, and the hall and grounds have been closed to the general public.
The hall remains private, but part of the original Victorian path from Coniston Water to Tarn Hows was reopened by the NT whose staff, with the help of many volunteers, worked hard clearing the grounds and vegetation. All the work was supported by a £450,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant and £20,000 of Lake District Sustainability Fund grants. This is the path we will walk today."

"Thank you pal", said Tetley. "We have been well and truly educated."

Southey said, "as Beatrix Potter saved the estate, it seems a fitting coincidence that our Beatrix Lakeland Bear is celebrating her birthday, today." In her shoulder bag she is carrying a small copy of one of her stories, The Tale of Ginger and Pickles.

So striding on Dad's progress was soon halted as Tetley pointed, "that is a good view of the Yewdale Fells. There are some Birkett summits up there that we climbed in 2007."

The path led on to a gate in a wall. "We go through there", said Shaun.

"Right lad, but first let's go and have a look at the gazebo. Just along this path to the left."

Once again Grizzly was able to add interest to our visit. "Tea parties were once held in the upper room. In the lower room a fire was kept well stoked to warm the room above and food was prepared for the visitors."

The estate has many magnificent trees, some of the larger specimens being non native and brought back from countries such as America. Here is one such just adjacent to the gazebo. "Goodness me", complained Allen. "My neck is hurting trying to see the top."

Through the gate we entered the walled garden. Grizzly pointed left, "there is the potting shed that has been restored."

He then told us, "the garden has been restored to its original late 19th-century layout with slate-edged paths and a viewing platform."

Shaun said, "our route is to that blue bin then left along the path to exit by another gate."

Here a track led through more glorious woodland and magnificent trees, to the Hawkshead road.

"We cross and follow the track opposite, through the woodland of Hill Fell", called out Shaun.

This had been made rougher due to forestry work. It led over School Beck via this narrow bridge...

...and up steps to then bend left and join a wider bridleway, where without need of directions from Shaun, Dad turned right.

The track climbed steadily on and on coming to a Y-junction, where the signpost directed us left towards Tarn Hows. Then the path split again. We kept right on the steepish track, although when we reached the end, it was clear the author had intended us to go left, but it did not matter.

For one thing the view opened out to the left as we were not long in the woodland. "Wow", pointed Allen, "that's a super view of the Langdale Pikes." Then for Southey's sake who is not so familiar with the names he said, "from the left the rounded top is Pike o'Stickle, then the next prominence is Loft Crag. Across the col the summit is Harrison Stickle with the long flat ridge of Pavey Ark to its right."

"Thanks pal", said Southey.

At the road, Shaun said, "it's left down towards the main car park."

Here lady was sketching and Dad, being the sociable kind of person, got into conversation. She is originally from the USA, but has lived here for many years with her husband in the south of England. She told us that she has no desire to return, as the people in America seem to be at war with themselves.

Dad said, "I just hope they vote Donald Trump out in the forthcoming election."

She could not agree more.

They talked about the landscape and Dad pointed out the names of the fells and mountains that could be seen.

"Thank you for that", she said.

We got introduced too and she liked the idea of us writing tales of our adventures.

So walking on we soon reached the main car park. Up to now we had seen no other walkers, but suddenly there were people everywhere as Tarn Hows is such popular place with tourists.

A clear path led down to the tarn and through a gate we commenced its circuit. There were families as well as other groups. We got noticed a few times, and it was Shaun who got the most mentions. The path undulated close to and then a little away from the shore, with views through gaps in the trees.

The path is surfaced to make it usable for people of different abilities.

Seeing a seat, Little Eric said, "time we had our picture taken for the story."

"Quite", agreed Allen, as we scrambled out of the rucksack.

As we walked along the other side the path climbed high above the tarn. "That's a fine view of the tarn backed by Coniston Old Man and Wetherlam", pointed Tetley.

"Ah Wetherlam", said Grizzly. "I recall when we got to the top we met a lady who kindly took your picture Dad, with us"

"Oh yes", replied Little Eric. "Then a year or so later we were at the summit of Harrison Stickle. A group of walkers arrived as Dad was taking our picture. The last was the very same lady who seeing us said, "I took your picture on Wetherlam."

Striding on we soon now completed the round, and we sat on the hill overlooking the tarn taking in the views. Shaun said, "that is the classic view of the tarn."

"The distant summits poking over the trees are Froswick and Ill Bell above Kentmere", said Allen.

"Right", said Dad, "time for the return route."

"We should head along the road, past the main car park", instructed Shaun.

Unsurprisingly it was completely full with at the far end the visitor centre and toilets seen here when new in 2008.

"We will come to a sign pointing us right on the track to Tarn Hows Cottage", advised Shaun.

In the open pasture Herdwicks were grazing, the ewes having lambs, and Dad could not resist getting the camera out.

"I love the way that the lambs seem to have different markings on their face", commented Southey.

At the end the track bent right and dropped down to the white painted cottage, so typical of the Lake District.

"Not down to the cottage", called out Shaun, "rather through that gate on the left."

Now ahead across the grassy pasture with Tarn Hows Wood on the right, then heading on in the same direction at the end of the wood. It was around here in 2008, that Dad snapped this of a Herdwick lamb with its mother behind.

The path led to a gate and just beyond we met the only walkers, a couple, on the actual walk (excluding the tarn). Once again Dad stopped and had quite a chat with them about the wonderful scenery and about the lockdown etc. So onwards then the path winding left to another gate and onto a stony track.

"Wow", called out Southey. "what a super view of Coniston Water!"

More Herdwicks were grazing here. "That's a bit strange", pointed Grizzly, "Herdwick lambs are I thought are always black, but the ones here are white."

The path continued down. "Oh dear", said Little Eric. "That's not good there is a bull standing directly on the path."

"They don't normally trouble us", replied Tetley.

"True", said Dad, "but just to be on the safe side we will give it a wide berth", as he deviated left.

Soon we joined a surfaced track via a gate. "Left here", called out Shaun.

This led through Boon Crag Farm and then the National Trust sawmill to the Hawkshead road.

"There's Boon Crag postbox", called out Little Eric. "Let's have our picture taken. I recall Uncle Eric telling us that this was a stop for the bus on the Ambleside to Coniston route and was shown in the timetable as Boon Crag Postbox."

"I wonder if it is still the case", mused Southey.

When we got home Grizzly looked up the timetable. "No pal", he told Southey. "The nearest stop is now referred to as 'Monk Coniston, at Hall'."

Shaun said, "after a few yards we should divert right onto a path that will separate us from the road by a beech hedge."

Following this to the corner. We exited left, crossed the road, then followed a similar path that led us shortly to the car park.

"That was a super walk", said Southey. "Thanks Dad as always."

" A grand day out", remarked Tetley. "I suppose with the cafes being open again, you will be having some refreshment."

"Absolutely", replied Dad. "It is so long since I have been able to do this."

So drove into Coniston, Dad being fortunate to get a parking spot in the in the main car park. Just across the road is Hollands Cafe, where he had a pot of tea, toasted teacake and gorgeous piece of lemon cake.

Meanwhile we had our picnic in the car.

Afterwards Dad went for a walk round the village looking in the shops. He went in one called Lakes and Country, and spotted that they sold Beatrix Potter character soft toys. Well as we had walked through the estate that Beatrix Potter had bought, he decided it was appropriate to buy a small Peter Rabbit! Yes he does not need to add any more to the Hug, but he is so cute, and in a little way Dad was helping the community recover from the lockdown due to Covid-19. On the way home he kept asking if there were any carrots in Dad's garden. We can't think why?

As we were about to set off Dad chatted to a couple parked next to us. They had been on Dow Crag and the Old Man. We thought about the days spent climbing them with Dad. We got introduced too and Dad told them about our achievements.

So a very happy group we chatted with our new pal as Dad drove us home.

As Tetley had said , it had been a grand day out.

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