A guide to Tarn Hows holiday cottages

A guide to Tarn Hows

Julie Smith 17 March 2020

Tarn Hows is one of the most popular waters with visitors to the Lake District National Park. It lies between Hawkshead and Coniston, and is simply sign posted ‘The Tarns’, a title probably harking back to when there were a number of smaller tarns nearby called Coniston Monk tarns.

Tarn Hows

About half a mile long, this National Trust site is surrounded by rising fell and woodland and has an easy access path all the way around its edge that makes Tarn Hows a popular choice with walkers. A visit to this well-loved beauty spot is an inspiring day out for all during your short break or holiday to the Lake District.

Tarn Hows and Beatrix Potter

The lands of the Monk Coniston estate which contain Tarn Hows were purchased by Beatrix Potter and left as a legacy to the National Trust upon her death. Tarn Hows was a favourite spot of the author and it’s easy to imagine how she would have been inspired by the mesmerising scenery surrounding this tranquil body of water.    

Monk Coniston gardens, copyright Cumbria tourism


Tarn Hows is less than two miles from the village of Hawkshead and the Beatrix Potter Gallery which is filled with sketches and original artwork that were inspired by the Lake District. Spend some time exploring the market square during your visit and you'll find interesting buildings and classic tea rooms dotted in and around a maze of charming streets and pretty courtyards.

Tarn Hows walks

There are an assortment of walks around Tarn Hows and with options suitable for all ages and abilities it’s an ideal choice for families looking to get active, tear kids away from their smartphones and make the most of the great outdoors. 

Monk Coniston to Tarn Hows

If you fancy combining a scenic countryside walk with a trip on the National Trust’s Steam Yacht Gondola, the walk from Monk Coniston to Tarn Hows is the perfect route for you. Catch the historic boat from Coniston Pier to Monk Coniston, walk through the pretty grounds of one of Beatrix Potter’s famous estates before taking a gentle woodland walk to Tarn Hows.

Tarn Hows circular

The Tarn Hows circular is a classic Lake District walk with easy access paths,  a National Trust car park and lovely views across the water. It’s around two miles to walk around Tarn Hows and for older visitors or anyone with reduced mobility, the National Trust have all-terrain mobility scooters which can tackle the full route.   

Tom Gill waterfall walk

Tarn Hows walks

The Lake District is home to some of the UK’s prettiest waterfalls including the majestic Tom Gill falls which are a short but very scenic walk from Tarn Hows. We recommend starting at the Glen Mary National Trust car park and then walking along the fast-flowing Tom Gill stream which leads into Tarn Hows. The ravine walk can be challenging so sturdy footwear is a must but the views of the 30 foot waterfall are spectacular.

Things to see and do at Tarn Hows

Tarn Hows is deservedly a favourite spot for many visitors to the Lake District. Here are just some of things you can see and do around its serene shores.


There are both standard and extended orienteering trails around Tarn Hows and you can test your map reading skills by correctly identifying a series of markers as you make your way around the lake. 

Nature spotting

Things to do at Tarn Hows

You’ll find Herdwick sheep and Belted Galloway cows grazing on the pastures surrounding Tarn Hows and you can also spot red squirrels and deer during a nature trail. The woodland around Tarn Hows is home to carpets of beautiful bluebells and there’s an array of birdlife that you can see and hear.

Art and photography

Painting at Tarn Hows

Tarn Hows is one of the most photographed spots in the Lake District and whether you decide to bring along a camera or smartphone you can get some wonderful shots of both the stillness of the water and the surrounding woodland. It also makes an ideal spot for any budding landscape artists to bring along a sketchpad or set up an easel.

Tarn Hows pubs

For the perfect day out in the Lake District, combine a scenic Tarn Hows walk with refreshments at a characterful country pub.

Drunken Duck Inn

Tarn Hows pubs

A gastro pub that’s surrounded by stunning scenery at the north of Tarn Hows. Expect good Cumbrian food, local ales and roaring log fires on a visit to this dog-friendly Lake District inn.  

Outgate Inn

Tarn Hows guide - Tarn Hows

This dog-friendly Robinsons Brewery pub sits between Tarn Hows and Lake Windermere and offers regular live music, hearty pub grub and a friendly welcome to walkers and their four-legged friends.   

Black Bull

Tarn Hows pubs

A 400 year old coaching inn located in Coniston village, the Black Bull has its own on-site microbrewery which uses local mountain water. A perfect choice for refreshments before tackling the Monk Coniston to Tarn Hows walk.

Queen’s Head Inn

Image credit: Sue Nelson Photography


Hawkshead has a number of good pubs including the 17th century Queen’s Head Inn which lies on the main village and offers everything from local ales to fine spirits and cocktails. There’s also an AA rosette restaurant if you fancy a top-notch meal.

Where to stay at Tarn Hows

A guide to Tarn Hows

The villages of Coniston and Hawkshead are both just a couple of miles from Tarn Hows so make ideal bases for a short break of holiday.   

Rock Cottage, Coniston

A two-bedroom cottage that looks out over the lake from an elevated spot above Coniston village. Make the most of the view from a split level terrace with an outdoor dining table.

Arresting View, Hawkshead

Where to stay - Tarn Hows

A dog-friendly holiday home for two with a prime spot in the pretty village of Hawkshead. Arresting View combines contemporary styling, luxury touches and beautiful views to make the perfect romantic retreat.

Windrush, Coniston

This large four-bedroom property is just a short walk from the centre of Coniston and has a large family (and dog) friendly garden that come with a backdrop of Lake District fell. 

Whether you're looking for a peaceful romantic getaway or a fun-filled family holiday, browse our range of luxury cottages and start planning your perfect Lake District holiday.


Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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