Surrounded as it is by hills and fells on almost all sides, Little Langdale can seem pleasantly self-contained and away from it all. However, one of the great things about our little corner of the Lake District is that it is actually very well connected to other areas. This is partly due to it being an historic intersection of Cumbrian packhorse tracks, as well as the history of mining in the Tilberthwaite valley to the south.
This seven mile walk takes you from the door of the Three Shires Inn to Tarn Hows, one of the Lake District’s most popular beauty spots. It is mostly on good tracks and roads, but there are some boggy sections on Holme Fell. It can also be surprisingly easy to get lost on Holme Fell in the fog!
The Three Shires Inn to Hodge Close quarry
From the Three Shires Inn turn left and walk along the road until you see a kissing gate on the right and a footpath signpost pointing towards Stang End. The path drops downhill past a white house on the left and crosses a beck via a footbridge. It then climbs slightly through a gate to the little cluster of buildings at Stang End.
Follow the tarmac road slightly uphill where a three-way signpost points towards Hodge Close and Coniston. The tarmac track soon becomes gravel and makes its way through trees and a series of gates. Eventually you will reach some buildings where you can turn left up a gravel track by a pile of slate slag and a signpost pointing towards High Oxen Fell.
This track passes the entrance to the disused Parrock quarry. It is well worth a detour to explore the man-made caverns at the far end of the quarry, which have two huge arches looking out onto Hodge Close and its lake. The quarries are just two of a number of sites which were active in the Tilberthwaite valley between the 19th century and the 1960s. The steel base of a crane can still be seen near the arches.
Today the quarries are the domain of rock climbers, as well as divers who can explore submerged tunnels and caverns. The path down is quite steep and slippery so watch your step.
Hodge Close to Tarn Hows
A short distance past the entrance to the quarry there is a gate on the right. Go through the gate and follow the path which runs parallel to the edge of Hodge Close. Keep following the path past the end of the quarry and through a gate and trees.
You will pass a footpath signposted to the left, but ignore this until you reach another footpath on the left just before a gate. This footpath heads up through boggy heath and heather over Holme Fell.
Despite its modest height, Holme Fell offers some great views towards the Langdale Pikes and, if time and energy allow, it is worth walking all the way to the top of Ivy Crag. As it crosses the fell, the main path drops quite steeply down into the trees overlooking Yew Tree Tarn and the main road from Coniston to Ambleside.
As you descend you will meet an obvious path heading to the right. Follow this and pass through some gates and follow a farm track to High Yewdale farm. You then have to turn left and walk along the main road crossing a bridge to reach the National Trust’s Glen Mary Bridge car park.
Two paths head from the car park towards Tarn Hows. One heads over a wooden bridge and alongside Tom Gill through the trees. However, our route heads along a gravel track between walls. Follow this until you reach a gate through the wall on the left. Go through the gate and follow the path across a field. The path then zig-zags upwards and emerges near the road overlooking Tarn Hows.
Tarn Hows to Little Langdale
Tarn Hows is one of the Lake District’s most accessible and popular beauty spots and can be very busy in the summertime. The tarn was actually created by joining three separate tarns together in the 19th century and was once owned by children’s author Beatrix Potter. She sold the half containing Tarn Hows to the National Trust in 1930 and bequeathed the rest in her will.
There is a very well maintained path going around the whole tarn. However, if you follow the path on the north west side of the tarn through the trees you will reach a fork with a signpost towards Skelwith and Langdale. Follow the good track in this direction until you meet a junction with another track with three-way signpost. Turn left, signposted to the Langdales and Oxen Fell, and follow the track until it becomes tarmac and drops down to cross the main road.
Cross straight over the road and continue following the track on the other side (signposted to Hodge Close). This drops down through some buildings at Oxen Fell before heading on to bring you back to Hodge Close and Parrock quarries.
Here it is just a matter of turning right and retracing your steps back along the track to Stang End and the Three Shires Inn.