Adventure & Travel Blog Lake District Lovers

Alcock Tarn and Heron Pike Circular Walk

rydal water from nab scar

Parking: St Mary’s Church, Rydal NY365062  

Distance: Approx. 5 miles

Raven Crag height: 612 metres

Grade: Moderate

Time: 3 – 4 hours

Making up part of the famous Fairfield Horseshoe ridge walk, the Alcock Tarn and Heron Pike circular walk lends itself to wild swimmers and hikers seeking spectacular fell views. While you can start the walk from Ambleside or Grasmere village, this route begins along the path that winds up past Rydal Hall and Mount.

Nab Scar Walk

Nab scar walk
View of Windermere in the distance
  1. Park on the roadside near St Mary’s Church in Rydal. Walk up the lane past Rydal Hall on your right and Rydal Mount a little further up on your left. Bear left towards Hart Head Farm and follow the public footpath. A path on your right then steers you through a gate where you’ll begin the gradual climb up to Nab Scar. Beautiful views open up behind you with Windermere in the distance.

2. Continue over the ladder stile where you’ll also find a small tunnel through the wall that’s suitable for dogs. The path becomes steeper as it winds up to the summit.

Nab scar ladder stile
Nab Scar ladder stile

3. It’s not long before you reach a small plateau where the most imposing panorama unfolds, with views of Windermere, Rydal Water and Grasmere. This is a great spot to catch your breath and soak up the scenery. On a clear day you can see across to Lord’s Seat, Latterbarrow, Yewbarrow and Rydal Cave which sits just above Rydal Water.

4. Just one last push and you’ll reach the large cairn on the summit of Nab Scar where the Clywydian Range comes into sight, along with the Old Man of Coniston and Wetherlam.

Windermere Rydal Water and Grasmere from nab scar
Windermere, Rydal Water and Grasmere

Heron Pike Walk

5. Carry on towards Heron Pike which you’ll see about 300m ahead of you from Nab Scar. As you reach the summit, you’ll enjoy incredible views over to Rydal Fell, Hart Crag, Bowfell and the Langdales.

Alcock Tarn Walk

6. To get to Alcock Tarn, you can either take the steep path down to the left of the summit or you can return to just above Nab Scar where another path winds down more gently. You’ll soon spot the stone walls that meander around Alcock Tarn. To access the water’s edge, go through the gap in the wall. Weather dependent, you might want to stop for a quick dip or picnic here.

alcock tarn walk
Alcock Tarn

Descent and Coffin Route to St Mary’s Church

7. To the left of the tarn, take the path that leads you down towards Grasmere. En route you’ll come across a bench where you can sit and look across to Silver How.

view of silver how
View of Silver How

8. Once back on the ground, you’ll see a signpost for the Coffin Route, a famous path where coffins were once carried for burial at St Oswald’s Church in Grasmere. You could take a slight detour to the right here to see Dove Cottage where Wordsworth lived. If not, take the Coffin Route back to St Mary’s Church.

Dove cottage grasmere lake district
Dove Cottage

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