NOTE: Dobgil car park is closed as is the middle part of the west Thirlmere road. You may be able to walk along the road from Steel End car park, which is open.
Harrop Tarn is blessed by a number of interesting routes to its quiet and remote feeling shore. Two are direct, here we offer another. A steep, but easy grass rake, with a good view of the Binka Stone, and lots of mature juniper bushes. The top of Birk Crag has fantastic views of Thirlmere and across to the Helvellyn massif.
Harrop Tarn is a classic glacial tarn in a high corrie with the impressive Tarn Crags around its south west shores. Its water comes from the Ullscarf catchment area above bringing with it much sediment which is gradually silting up the tarn as shown by the great swaths of sedge grass around its edge. At best it is only 4m (4 yards) deep. The outfall drops north west down Dob Gill to reach Thirlmere reservoir.
Blea Tarn lies just over the central ridge in a hollow below the less imposing crags of Coldbarrow Fell. Its source is again part of the great peaty Ullscarf catchment. Here though the tarn is much deeper: 13m (14 yards), at a height of 476m (524 yards). The bridleway from Watendlath to Blea Tarn is notoriously boggy, our walk here perhaps drier gives a gentle introduction to the 'delights' of this area.
Park at the United Utilities Dobgill pay and display car park.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Return to the minor road, and turn right. Walk along the road for approx 350m, passing the Binka Stone, and bear right through the gate onto the bridleway. Bear slightly left and cross the field to the gate above. Go through, ignore the track on your left, instead bear right to find the bottom of the path to the grassy rake going right to left to traverse below the crag.
At the top of the rake the path bears right to climb the fellside in a rather more direct line. There are some juniper bushes here. You soon join a wall, with a visible path on the other side - don't try and cross the wall. Bear right and continue climbing alongside the wall.
Reaching the remains of a sheepfold at the wall corner, turn right and climb the grass slope behind you to the top of Birk Crag. A small cairn marks the high point. Wandering around the summit area you can get some cracking views north along Thirlmere to Blencathra, or south to Dunmail Raise and across to the Helvellyn massif. And down to Harrop Tarn, the next destination.
Return to the wall corner and bear right to follow a path alongside the broken wall and fence. Drop down through more juniper bushes. Cross a short section of boardwalk to a gate in the deer fence. Go through the gate, and turn right. Cross the boggy patch and carry on to the tarn outflow. Cross the footbridge to the track and tarn.
Continue along the forestry road, past the tarn, it now climbs slightly to a junction. Bear left signposted "Watendlath".
Within 200m (220 yards) bear right away from the forestry road to climb on a narrow path through the trees. This path meanders quite a bit but is well used and easy to follow.
Reaching an old track through the forest bear slightly left to continue on the path. Cross a boggy patch by the small section of boardwalk to reach a muddy track.
Bear left along the track, and when this ends bear right to the gate in the tall deer fence.
Go through the gate and continue on the grassy path beyond. Now obvious to your left is Mosshause Gill. The path bears gently away from the gill in a series of small zigzags and meanders. It also gets increasingly boggy, the give away is the amount of sphagnum moss underfoot. After a few false summits the ridge and a fence line is reached at a gate.
Go through the gate and carry on the now very boggy path bearing slightly right. In a few metres Blea Tarn will appear in front and below you. A small grassy knoll is a handy place to stop to soak up the views and have a bite to eat.
Return back to Harrop Tarn by the reverse route. A few notes follow... The gate on the ridge line is easy enough to find again but the path beyond may be a little less obvious. Aim a little south of east, at about 1 o'clock, or looking across to the central ridge at Fairfield which is similarly placed. The boggy path should soon appear.
Drop down to the woods at the deer gate. Don't miss the junction off the muddy track, the track turns left as the bridleway back to Harrop Tarn bears off right. A small post is hidden behind a tree!
Returning to the metalled forestry track turn right and drop back to Harrop Tarn. Just before the outfall turn left onto the narrow path coming up directly from the car park. Follow the path down alongside Dob Gill, look out for the waterfall about half-way down.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Grisedale Tarn||2.7km (1.7 miles) away|
|Helvellyn round from Thirlmere||2.9km (1.8 miles) away|
|High Tove and Armboth Fell from Thirlmere||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|The Dodds and Clough Head, via Sticks Pass and St John's in the Vale||5.0km (3.1 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011