8th February 2015

Visiting the Lake District Tarns - Walk No 12

Dock Tarn and Watendlath Tarn


Walk Overview
Time 9am to ??? pm (didn't take notice)
Duration Not sure
Distance 6.5 mile
Ascent 2000ft
Walking with Jennifer and Paul Sharkey
Stonethwaite - Lingy End - Dock Tarn - Great Crag - Watendlath Tarn - Watendlath - Puddingstone Bank - Grange Fell - Puddingstone Bank - Rosthwaite - Stonethwaite
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Parking spaces, Stonethwaite

Despite there only being spaces for about 5 cars next to the phone box this is somewhere I've only failed to get to get parked on one occasion. Found in the middle of Stonethwaite, this about as good as it gets for sheer variety of walks.

There is also a small parking area just before the main village. It is more of a lay-by than anything else but there is room for about a dozen cars.

Parking is free and for those wishing to eat or drink after a walk the hotel / pub is less than a minutes walk further into the village.


Route Map


Stonethwaite was a sleeping hamlet when we arrived this morning. Smoke from the chimneys hung over the buildings and, save for the clattering noise the sheep made against the barn door where they were housed next to our parking spot, the place was silent and cold after another winters night of subzero temperatures. No doubt our arrival caused a disturbance to the peacefulness but after a brief spell of opening and closing car doors, chattering to each other and tapping metal tipped walking poles on the frozen ground, we left the place to once again enjoy the early morning silence.

Not a lot of sunshine finds its way into this little corner of Lakeland at this time of year so if you're going to find frosty conditions anywhere then it'll more than likely be here.

After walking through the valley for hardly any distance at all we begin to make our way up to the woods and the steps below Lingy End. O yes, that's Eagle Crag over there.

There's still quite a lot of ice in the shaded areas but side of the fells lucky enough to receive any sunshine seem to be loosing the snow quite fast now.

Looking up, we could see the brightness wasn't too far away, ,
and when we reached the sunshine it was like someone had turned up the central heating.

The view really opens up when you get to Lingy End. Here we're looking to Seatoller and it's surrounding fells. Grey Knotts, Fleetwith Pike and Dale Head. Just before taking this photo Jennifer spotted a small group of Deer running across the fellside. I caught the briefest of glimpses but they were gone before the I could make the camera go 'click'.

Behind us we see the bulk of Bessyboot and, to the left Base Brown, Green Gable, Great Gable, Brandreth, Gray Knotts and a small section of Pillar. The area with the narrow shadow running across it is the hanging valley of Gillercomb.

Dock Tarn comes into view and just as we thought, it had a good covering of ice.




I couldn't even begin to explain why, but I've long held the thought that Dock Tarn is my favourite tarn of them all. It was the first tarn I ever visited but that can't be the reason because I don't get that sentimental about 'first visits' to places. So, after saying that, I'll have to leave you with no explanation.

From Great Crag we look down to Watendlath seen below High Seat. And, in the far distance are the Skiddaw fells sticking out above a cloud inversion.

A close up of the Skiddaw fells.

Turning around you get a great view over to Base Brown, Green & Great Gable, Brandreth, Grey Knotts, Pillar and Dale Head. These fells were in view for quite a lot of this walk.

There was lots of ice on this section so the path was best avoided in favour of the grassy fellside. This was covered in that nice crunchy type of snow which seemed to offer us plenty of grip.


As I said, the path was best avoided.



Watendlath was lovely today. Blue sky, sunshine, a bit of snow about and much much warmer than you'd expect it to be.



Watendlath Tarn reflections.

It was nice and quiet at Watendlath today which was surprising when you consider the warm and sunny conditions. Often you'll arrive here when it's bucketing down to find the place packed with visitors. Perhaps everyone was looking down on the temperature inversion at the Keswick end of Borrowdale.

This Robin may have been hungry but it wasn't brave enough to do battle with the Ducks for the bread & cake we were giving away.

Time to for something to eat I reckon. The cafe is shut at this time of year so I'm afraid it was a do it yourself dinner today.

That's where we're heading next.

Heading across Puddingstone Bank. The pointed fell straight in front of us is Dale Head.

From the top of Puddingstone Bank we 'nipped' up to Grange Fell in the hope of a better view of the temperature inversion we'd seen below Skiddaw.

And there it is.

Zooming in on the Skiddaw fells and the inversion. Anyone on Latrigg would have been getting a real treat this afternoon. The summit is just and so higher than the cloud so they'd be looking across the cloud instead of looking down on it.

As I stood here looking at the central and eastern ridges, I thought with the ground being frozen, perhaps this would have been the ideal day to visit some of the tarns around the very wet and boggy area around Thirlmere & Ullscarf. Hindsight is a wonderful thing but I'm hopeful we'll have some more frosty weather before the winter is over or I'll have to wait for the nice dry summer to arrive.

A rather hazy view of the high fells found at the head of Borrowdale and beyond.

That's Dale Head over there. I remember thinking I'd best take this picture before it disappears from view as I loose height.

The mile or so walk back to Stonethwaite took us through some lovely countryside. For at least the first half of the route we enjoyed the afternoon sunshine before eventually re-entering the shade again. When we arrived back in Stonethwaite it was just as peaceful, quiet and sleepy as it had been at 9 o'clock this morning when we set out.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks