Low Wray & Tarn Hows
Stats: 16 miles and 1650 feet of ascent
We started this route off from Low Wray National Trust Campsite. There is a National Trust visitor car park at Wray Castle. However, the loop can just as well be started from either: Ambleside or Coniston, giving an easier start, or Hawkshead, where there are a great range of facilities on offer to suit everyone.
Albeit short in distance, don’t underestimate this route. It climbs quite quickly, with only a short opportunity to warm into it. Dropping into Coniston at speed on twisting lanes, care should be taken. These narrow Lakeland roads can have unfamiliar drivers along them. The final stretch allows the opportunity to stretch out and roll along back to Low Wray – and do the loop again!
1. From Wray Castle turn left onto the narrow lane and begin the twisting climb through High Wray to Gillbank before descending to the road junction near Hawkshead. Turn right crossing the bridge before turning right again towards ‘Ambleside/ Coniston’, keeping the car park to your left and the campsite to your right as you pass through Hawkshead on the B5285.
2. Once through Hawkshead rolling fields and isolated properties either side of the road open up the views. Take the next left signed ‘Hawkshead Hill / Coniston’; this is where the long climb begins. A 1 1/2 mile long slog up the narrow twisting lane, with high hedgerows keeping any wind at bay until you summit at High Cross. Time now to enjoy the descent to Coniston. Beware of the tight bends on this descent with some loose gravel on the road edges in places.
3. The Lake comes into view just before Coniston and the road is followed to the edge of the village. Turn right onto Shepherds Bridge Lane, signed for the ‘Coniston Sports and Social Centre’. This short lane soon meets a junction with the A593 (Yewdale Road) signed right towards Ambleside – take this.
4. The road rolls along steadily, passing Yew Tree Tarn on the left. The road twists and turns through Skelwith Bridge before reaching Clappersgate where a turning right is taken signed ‘Hawkshead’. The tight twisting short descent goes over the bridge, passing the Brathay Trust building to your left, continuing on for 1 1/2 mile to a junction left with a very narrow lane signed to ‘Low Wray’ – take this.
5. A short climb then leads you back on more twisting lanes lined with hedgerows to the campsite and Wray Castle.