Hawkshead, Cumbria – 28th April 2024

Strenuous Leader :  Paul                                          Distance : 13 miles  

From Hawkshead we will head south edging Hawkshead Moor into Furness Fells. Continuing south then south west into Satterthwaite village where we will head north through the sculpture park into Grizedale village.  From there we will head west up to Carron Crag and the views of Coniston and beyond one way and Esthwaite Water and Windermere the other.  Then heading north east through Grizedale Forest and Hawkshead Moor back to Hawkshead itself.  There is an option to visit Hawkshead Hall.

Leisurely Leader:  David                                    Distance : 7.5 miles

From the car park, we head towards Hawkshead Hill. Then we go to Tarn How’s. After walking along a track around the south-east side of the tarn we turn off to start the return back to Hawkshead on an elevated footpath which has excellent view of the lake. We then retrace the way back to town. Will probably be muddy in parts. Not much climbing up hills which is surprising considering it’s in the Lake District.

Easy Leader:  Cynthia & Dave                             Distance: 5 miles

This is a lovely walk with good views and good paths. I don’t expect too many muddy boots. We pass Wordsworth school towards Walker Ground and through a wood to reach the forest tracks. There is some uphill walking here but we will take our time and give time to enjoy the scenery. We then go downhill to the forest tarmac road and follow the footpath markers that head to Hawkshead with views of Esthwaite Water.

There is a short walk along the road until we reach Howe Farm but we can then head back on good paths through Roger Ground to reach Hawkshead.


Hawkshead is an unspoiled ancient market town situated at the head of Esthwaite Water. It derives its name from an original Norse settlement called ‘Hawkr’s saeter’ established about 900 AD. The clearance of the surrounding woodland to provide pasture for animals was encouraged by the monks of Furness Abbey, who introduced sheep to the fells in the 13th century. Hawkshead received its market charter in 1608 and for the next 200 years it served as the chief centre in Furness for the trade in woollen yarns. These yarns were spun from the fleece as a household industry within the town, and the long well-lit spinning gallery was a common feature of the townscape. The trade in locally produced cloth proved extremely profitable for a number of Hawkshead farmers, especially those who acquired their own land after the dissolution of Furness Abbey in 1537. These yeoman farmers were known locally as ‘statesmen’ and their wealth made Hawkshead famous for its ‘hiring fairs’ when servants could be hired by the local masters. By the 19th century, the domestic industry of Hawkshead had been eclipsed by the mechanised woollen mills of Kendal. Nevertheless the town survived as a centre for rural crafts like saddlery, tanning, basket-making and blacksmiths, but nowadays it derives much of its income from tourism.

The village is not far from Beatrix Potter’s farm and the Beatrix Potter Gallery, now owned by the National Trust, has an exhibition of her writing and drawings.

There are no less than 38 buildings of special architectural or historic interest, many of them dating from the 17th and 18th centuries with those on Church Hill amongst the most attractive. These higgeldy and piggeldy buildings were loved by Beatrix and the poet William Wordsworth. The Grammar School was founded in 1585 by Edwin Sandys, the local born Archbishop of York. The school’s most famous pupil was Wordsworth, whose desk survives to this day. The present building dates from 1675. Over the entrance there is a memorial to Archbishop Sandys together with a sundial.

The 15th century church dominates the town from its position high upon Church Hill. Inside is a number of monuments and historical artefacts, together with a series of superb painted murals dating from 1680. In the churchyard is a copper sundial of 1693, the wooden lych gate of 1912, and the war memorial in the form of a Viking runic cross.