Harrop Tarn from Dobgill Bridge

Harrop Tarn

This is a fairly easy walk with little ascent through beautiful woodland to a secluded and scenic tarn backed by forests, crags and mountains. A great walk for a beginner or those days when you have less time. Although an easy walk there is plenty of interest along the way. The walk starts from the shores of the picturesque Thirlmere reservoir. An easy to follow path takes you through the woods passing dramatic waterfalls of Dob Gill. Eventually reaching the secluded and scenic Harrop Tarn surrounded by forests and crags crags. Wildlife is often plentiful. Buzzards mewing and soaring in circles above the surrounding crags. Herons nest in the surrounding forest and can often be seen around the tarn. On quiet days you may have the place to yoursefl and think you are in your own paradise. An ideal short an easy walk with only a little ascent and an option to explore forest tracks to make for a longer walk.

Route Directions

  1. The walk starts from the Dobgill Bridge car park situated just a kilometre up the road from Wythburn on the small road that follows the western side of Thirlmere Reservoir. Parking here is free although can sometimes be difficult at busy times, there are also toilet facilities on the car park. There is an information board at the car park worth looking at for the history of the area and a map to Harrop Tarn and the surrounding forest tracks.
  2. Thirlmere Reservoir is a huge and well landscaped reservoir, the owners United Utilities have done a great job of keeping extensive woodlands around the reservoir that provides millions of gallons of water via a ridiculously long network of aqueduct pipes to the North West of England and all the way to Manchester. Even before the man made dam was completed in 1894 by the Manchester Corporation company, there was a natural lake in this valley, the dam was simply built to higher the water level and create a constant level to supply the ever expanding industrial city of Manchester. The other side of the reservoir is made up by the Helvellyn range which provides a fantastic backdrop across the valley when taking a rest on parts of this walk.
  3. From the car park follow the path that heads uphill towards Harrop Tarn through some fantastic old woodland. After about two hundred metres you should reach a wall and behind it a huge imposing crag. At this point the path heads off to the right to go round the crag, at this point you can go round the crag that way following the easy and obvious path up to Harrop Tarn, however you'd then miss out on the dramatic cascading waters of Dob Gill. The best way from here is to go left behind the wall and head for the noise of the waterfalls.
  4. The waterfalls are an impressive sight, it seems daft that a path was never made to skirt the side of these impressive falls. Once at the falls you can go down to them, taking care not to slip on the tree routes and stones. They do make a fantastic picture in the morning when the sun bounces of the white waters. From the falls simply follow the steep ground up the right hand side of Dob Gill through the trees, the going here is not hard as the ground is soft, but it is quite steep in places. You will have rounded the left side of that imposing crag and eventually meet up with the original path.
  5. Follow the obvious path now as it follows the line of Dob Gill heading towards Harrop Tarn. At the tarn the first thing you will see is a wooden footbridge crossing Dob Gill. Stand on this footbridge and take in the awe inspiring beauty if Harrop Tarn. The far side of the tarn is slightly wilder than the near side as there is no continuous path, however if you wish to go round and explore then you can follow the path over the wooden footbridge and round to the top side of the tarn, here the Ullscarf Gill halts any further progress but I still think its worth exploring to see the tarn from a different angle and to see it with the Helvellyn Ridge as a backdrop.
  6. Back at the footbridge to continue the walk now head off the other way to the right following the path that heads towards the northern end of the lake. This path turns into a forestry track and then slightly uphill before turning right and heading back downhill through the impressive forests. After a steep descent on the track you will come to the edge of the forest at Cragsteads Gill where the views open up over Thirlmere. At this point a path heads off to the right skirting a wall on the edge of the forest, follow this path all the way downhill now passing a few abandoned building ruins on the way down. Once at the bottom you will be back on the small road that again that skirts the edge of the reservoir, turn right on to this road heading south and follow it for just a few hundred metres back to the car park.

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL5 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 90 Map Click to buy Harveys Lake District Mountain Map Click to buy Pathfinder Lake District Walk Guides

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...


  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.

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