Alcock Tarn is sandwiched between the village of Grasmere and the western arm of the Fairfield Round. It is a beautiful situation, rarely visited and can be directly accessed by a short, steep climb. Much better is to include Alcock Tarn as part of a higher circuit including Stone Arthur and Heron Pike.
The Fairfield Round is rightly regarded as one of the best walks in the Lake District. However some of the best walks only include part of the full horseshoe. The circuit of Stone Arthur & Alcock Tarn is one of them. is one of them. Others are mentioned at the foot of this page under ‘Similar Walks you might like’. Stone Arthur is accessed from a steep climb from Grasmere. It lies off the main ridge which you join at Great Rigg. From here do not continue to Fairfield but head south to Heron Pike, a wonderful viewpoint.
Normally the final part of a long walk is fuelled by thoughts of the end. Whether this is the pub, cafe or just drive back. In this case the best part of the walk is still to come. Half way down the steep slopes below Heron Pike is Alcock Tarn nestled quietly in the tall bracken (at least when I was last there). It is a lovely spot, large enough for a swim but small enough not to be well known. Facing west it gets the late sun and the descent back to Grasmere is very quick.
Alcock Tarn can be climbed on its own. The mini circuit is shown on the sketch map, the circuit offering two descents from on the main walk.
Stone Arthur is a very inconvenient Wainwright. It is steep up and down as a solitary climb but a fair distance adrift to be included on the Fairfield Horseshoe.This is the best way to tackle it!
At Heron Pike summit continue along the main ridge as it descends and just after Lords Crag take the marked path (black dashes) downhill to the tarn. It is the best way to approach the tarn. The direct path (green dashed) marked on the map barely exists and becomes lost amongst steep, craggy slopes and high bracken.
Remember the green dashes on the O/S maps marking a path are Rights of Way which may not be used. However Black dashed ‘paths’ are always there and reflect modern human routes, thereby reflecting modern walking trends for convenience and good views!
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