A picturesque gem in Little Langdale: Blea Tarn

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Last updated 01/01/2021

Blea Tarn from the road
Blea Tarn from the road

If you’re a regular reader of the blog, you may have noticed that I’ve been a little quieter than usual so far in 2018. Is that because I’m starting to run out of hidden gems to discover in the Lake District? Absolutely not! Work and other things have rather taken over recently, but last week I decided to redress the balance and get out and explore. After all, all work and no gem-hunting makes for a dull blogger!

First on my list of places to visit was Blea Tarn, a small tarn situated at the head of the Little Langdale valley, near to the mountain pass into Great Langdale. According to the National Trust, this is an ancient trade route.

Blea Tarn is such a little gem for those of us who are not hardy hill walkers, or who have limited mobility, as the tarn is accessible by road, with a National Trust car park situated on the opposite side of the road.

From the car park
From the National Trust pay-and-display car park

When I say road, I do have to sound a slight note of caution however! I know from talking to many visitors to the Lakes over the years that the access from either direction, and particularly the mountain pass from the direction of the Old Dungeon Ghyll, wouldn’t suit every driver. It’s extremely narrow, and mostly single-track with passing places here and there. It’s also very steep in places. Many will be quite happy with this, but I wouldn’t want you to get a nasty surprise if this isn’t the sort of driving you would enjoy. A break in the Lakes is supposed to be relaxing after all!

Road up to Blea Tarn with warning sign
A snap from the dashcam on the way up to Blea Tarn from the direction of the Old Dungeon Ghyll – it gets steeper!

Pass road to Blea Tarn

Blea Tarn on your right-hand side
Blea Tarn on your right-hand side
The road leading to Little Langdale from Blea Tarn
The road leading to Little Langdale from Blea Tarn

Once you’ve reached the tarn, there are opportunities for beautiful photographs, and there’s a popular short walk (with benches) around the back of the tarn, through the trees and onto the open fell behind, which apparently has stunning views back towards the Little Langdale valley and Coniston’s fells. There wasn’t time to do anything more than drop by on this occasion, although I did get as far as the footbridge. The National Trust provide full details of the route here.

Blea Tarn signs

The path from the road
The path from the road

Blea Tarn


View of Blea Tarn

Continuing the walk round the tarn
Continuing the walk round the tarn

Bench at Blea Tarn

Footbridge at Blea Tarn
From the road, follow the path to this footbridge, and then turn right
From the footbridge at Blea Tarn
The scenery from the footbridge is picturesque
Heading behind the tarn - Blea Tarn
Heading behind the tarn

Blea Tarn is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and, according to the National Trust, the sediment contained within it hasn’t been disturbed since the last Ice Age, so is very valuable in research.

Blea Tarn
When I visited, there was a professional photographer stood at the very bottom of the slope where I’m standing, to the left of this picture. I’ve since realised that this is where you need to stand to get the popular Blea Tarn composition you see in so many publications. I hadn’t noticed this image before, but now I see it in guidebooks everywhere!
The iconic Blea Tarn image
The iconic Blea Tarn image

For more information about visiting Blea Tarn, visit the National Trust online.

Which is your favourite tarn in the Lake District, and what makes it special to you? You can leave your own recommendations for places other blog readers might like to experience by leaving a comment below – it’s always great to hear from you!


  1. Another lovely (and very popular!) tarn walk in the Lake District is Tarn Hows, which is also well worth a visit while you’re in the Lakes. The access is easier too, although the car park gets extremely busy at peak times!

  2. Henry Roberts

    I always think Blea Tarn is amongst the most picturesque of all the lakes. It’s a lovely walk, but one you should take your time on to appreciate the scenery!

    • Yes, I couldn’t agree more. It’s so serene, I hope to return soon to complete the full walk and just take time to enjoy it – perhaps with a nice flask of tea!

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