Watendlath and Dock Tarn holiday cottages

Watendlath and Dock Tarn

Hannah 06 January 2021

There are so many fantastic walks in Borrowdale and one of my favourite routes takes in the pretty and quiet hamlet of Watendlath.

From Rosthwaite village, cross over the bridge opposite the bus stop, towards Hazelbank Hotel. Turn right at the end of the bridge along the path signed for Greenup Edge and Grasmere. Follow this narrow path parallel with the river till you pass Stonethwaite on the other side of the river.

Rowing boats on Watendlath Tarn, Lake District

You will pass a bridge on the right and soon after this, you will notice a faint path crossing the grass to your left. The path deviates diagonally uphill to a corner between a wire fence and a broken down stonewall and the edge of the tree line. Here you can cross the stile in the corner and start the steady climb uphill. It is rather steep to start with but soon, you will emerge from the woods onto the fellside, a great place to rest and take in the wonderful views over Esk Pike, Bowfell, Great Gable and Honister. There is a shelter at the top of the climb and a path emerges through the bracken, which leads to Dock Tarn, a peaceful tarn covered in water lilies amidst craggy outcrops.

Watendlath Tarn in the Lake District

For Wainwright fans, there is a simple deviation from the path alongside the tarn to take in the summit of Great Crag (440m) - a tick in the book of the Central Fells.

If you stay on the original path, Watendlanth Tarn will come into sight as you start to reach the hamlet.

Watendlath is a classic hanging valley. Hanging valleys can be found high above the main valley floor and display all the same features of a regular valley. They are often the result of varying rates of erosion millions of years ago. A hanging valley is created by slow glacial erosion, slower than the rate at which the valley floor was eroded. This means that over time, two valleys are created, the higher one often with a tarn or watercourse at its heart, draining to the main valley below.

Watendlath packhose bridge in the Lake District

Geographical history lesson over, you now reach Watendlath. Cross over the packhorse bridge, paying attention to the stone cobbles – one of them was laid by Prince Charles and has the date inscription on it – fancy that!

At Watendlath, there is a farm that runs a fabulous tearoom – famous for its homemade cakes - and a handful of buildings. Sir Hugh Walpole featured the farm in his Rogue Herries books! After a refreshing cup of tea and slice of cake, it is now time to head back to Borrowdale. Walk back over the packhorse bridge and bear to the right to walk up a short hill on a rough slate path. On reaching the top, you will be greeted with the familiar sight of Borrowdale and the long mass of Scawdel Fell on the opposite side of the valley.

It is now simply a case of following the path back downhill to arrive back at the junction by Hazelbank Country House. Hazelbank serves excellent evening meals if you fancy a treat or head to the Royal Oak in Rosthwaite village for a bite – it’s dog friendly too.

To discover more things to do in Borrowdale and great walks, have a look at our Borrowdale Area Guide. We also have a fantastic selection of Borrowdale Cottages.

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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