As well-respected Georgian postal service supervisor once admitted that one of his greatest pleasures was “hunting waterfalls” – words that could have come straight from the pages of Ripping Yarns.


The man’s name was William Wordsworth, and his favoured location to pursue his transient quarry of cascades and eddies was Easedale, snaking down to Grasmere from the muscular hills looming over his long-time home.

The great thing about this playful diary notation made by his sister Dorothy is that you can emulate the adventure and follow in the footsteps of the renowned Poet Laureate, perhaps indulging in much-the-same ruminations about nature as they did while enjoying some rewarding rambling, culminating in a memorable corrie cocooned by rippling fells.

Looking towards Tarn Crag from the shores of Easedale Tarn. In Victorian times, refreshments were sold from a small hut on the shores of the tarn; all that remains today are a few scattered stones (Credit: Getty) Getty, Tim Graham

Pack your picnic

First things first: find the local institution that is Lucia’s on Grasmere’s College Street and stock up with pasties, pies, sandwiches, baguettes or traybakes. Maybe a roast sweet potato or a black bean and red pepper pasty will get your poetic muse flowing?

Pack your picnic poncho – the weather can be capricious – and then head along Easedale Road, virtually opposite. Just before the ‘Lancrigg’ gateposts (0.8km), take the footbridge, turning left on to the well-marked path for Easedale Tarn.

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Your way continues upstream, more-or-less beside the lively Sourmilk Gill. As the going gets steeper, you’re rewarded by a continual thread of waterfalls and plunge pools, cataracts and rapids – the very same that Wordsworth and his walking chums sought out 220 years ago. Views of the crinkly fells are idyllic, the firm path visible way ahead, presently stumbling unheralded to the edge of the hidden tarn.


The water fills a natural amphitheatre huddled below shapely Tarn Crag, brushed with red-bronze heathers, bracken, reeds and bilberry glowing under a September sun. Low, grassy hummocks recall its creation by a glacier millennia ago. Ravens cronk on the crags and trout swirl in the water. Spread your picnic down near the beck’s outfall, or head towards the rear of the tarn to find a spot where the reflections are intoxicating and the views of buffering peaks utterly magical.


Neil Coates is a Manchester-based writer with nearly 40 walking/guidebooks published.