Thirlmere Way

Difficulty
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Moderate
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
6.5-9h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
18.5 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
1,100 m
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Directions to Trailhead
Thirlmere Way

The Thirlmere Way is a fun Lake District adventure that will see you cut across the Cumbria countryside from the village of Grasmere to the northern end of Thirlmere. This walk is only a small portion of the much longer trail that spans 130.0 mi from Manchester to Thirlmere along one of the water sources for the city. While out on this walk, you will experience some spectacular scenery of the surrounding peaks and deep blue waters of Thirlmere.

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Route Description for Thirlmere Way

While this walk only covers a small portion of the 130.0 mi mile-long Thirlmere Way, you will still experience a good variety of terrain and some elevation gains that will put your fitness to the test. Be sure to pack enough water and snacks for the journey, as well as a decent pair of walking boots to combat the inclines and sometimes rough terrain. Additionally, be sure to arrive early for parking in Grasmere and remember to arrange a pick up at the end of this one-way trail.

While the route may be a bit on the longer side, it will allow you to experience some of the beautiful terrain that can be found along this northern portion of the Thirlmere Way. The trail sets out from the charming village of Grasmere and cuts across the picturesque Cumbria countryside, offering scenic views of mountains such as Seat Sandal and Helvellyn. Eventually, you will walk the length of Thirlmere and take in some amazing views that sweep across the blue expanse of the lake. This walk is perfect if you are looking for a longer distance route without any overly challenging terrain.

Setting out from the heart of Grasmere, take some time to explore the village and stock up on any supplies for your journey before making your way northwest along Easedale Road. Follow this for 0.4 mi to pass by Butharlyp Howe on your right before turning right onto Helm Close. After 0.7 mi of walking past charming farm fields, the road will meet up with the River Rothay and arrive at a junction. Turn right here and make your way over the A591.

Picking up the track on the opposite side of the road, continue walking through the countryside for the next 0.5 mi to pass through a series of gates, keeping right to eventually arrive at a crossing over Tongue Gill. Turn right here and cross over the bridge, heading east on a gradual climb uphill through some rugged terrain.

From the bridge, keep straight for the next 1.1 mi as you climb uphill and pass over a number of streams to arrive at a crossing over Tongue Gill that features some trickling falls. Continue uphill, passing between the peaks of Seat Sandle on your left and Fairfield on your right, before you arrive at a junction overlooking Grisedale Tarn below.

Take the second path on the left and make your way northwest around the tarn, turning left at the next junction to follow Raise Beck as it descends the hillside to the west. When you reach the edge of the A591, turn right and follow the trail as it runs parallel to the road for the next 1.3 mi. Here, you will turn to the left on a quick detour to visit Wythburn Church, a small place of worship along the edge of Thirlmere that dates back to the 16th Century.

After visiting the church, head back to the main trail and turn left to continue on your way. Keep straight for the next 1.5 mi as you walk below the peaks of Helvellyn and Lower Man while enjoying the views across the waters of Thirlmere. When you arrive at a fork, head left to pass through a stretch of forest that will take you to Swirls car park, where you will find some toilet facilities.

Continue northwest along the trail and follow it back over the A591, keeping left to pass through a gate and bring yourself to the edge of the water. This lakeside portion of the walk will be the final leg of the journey to the northern end of Thirlmere. Keep left along the water’s edge for 1.06mi while enjoying the scenic views across the large lake. You will soon reach a series of junctions in the trail. Keep left at each of them to pass through Great How wood along the slopes of Great How.

After 0.5 mi of walking through the beautifully atmospheric expanse of Great How Wood, you will meet up with a road. Follow this to the left, as it will take you to the final viewpoint of the walk that overlooks Thirlmere from the embankment on its northern end. After wrapping up your great adventure along the Thirlmere Way, make sure to take some time to explore the area and appreciate the scenic views while you wait for your ride to bring you back to the trailhead in the heart of Grasmere.

Trail Highlights

Thirlmere

Located in the heart of the Lake District, Thirlmere is a human-made reservoir that sits on the location of a former natural lake. A dam was built in the 19th Century that flooded the valley in order to create a water supply for the city of Manchester to the south. Although the reservoir is man-made, it is surrounded by picturesque scenery that includes a number of peaks, such as the iconic Helvellyn.

Helvellyn

The third-highest point in both England and the Lake District, Helvellyn is a 950 m tall peak that has been a popular destination for walkers dating back to the late 18th Century. The mountain features a number of different routes up to the summit, making it accessible in almost every direction.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the Thirlmere Way?

The Thirlmere Way is a long distance walking route that follows closely alongside one of the water sources for the city of Manchester. Although the route described in this guide is only a small portion of the walk, the overall distance is 130.0 mi, stretching from Thirlmere in the Lake District to Manchester.

Insider Hints for Thirlmere Way

  • This route features a variety of terrain and several ascents/descents throughout, making sturdy, comfortable walking shoes a necessity.
  • Arrive early, as parking in Grasmere can become busy at the later house of the day.
  • Be sure to make arrangements for a pick-up at the end of the walk, as this is a point-to-point trail.
  • Toilet facilities can be found near the Swirls Car Park at the roughly ¾ waypoint.

Getting to the Thirlmere Way Trailhead

To reach the parking area for the Thirlmere Way from Ambleside, drive northeast on Compston Road/A591 for 3.6 mi and take the first exit at the roundabout onto Stock Lane. After 0.5 mi, turn right onto Broadgate and follow it for 340 ft, where you will find roadside parking in the village.

Route Information

  • When to do

    March-October

  • Backcountry Campsites

    YHA Hostel Grasmere, High Bridge End Farm

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    One Way

Thirlmere Way Elevation Graph

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