High Dam Walk

A lovely walk leading up to High Dam Tarn, High Dam walk is great for families. Here’s what you need to know.

Where is High Dam?

High Dam is close to the village of Finshthwaite, in the Newby Bridge area. It is near to Stott Park Bobbin Mill (another good day out), and was originally created when a dam was built across the southern end in the early 1800s to supply water to the bobbin mill. It is, as the name suggest, high up and the walk to reach it is an incline all the way.

High Dam Car Park

You’ll find High Dam Car Park at Bell Intake, just outside Finsthwaite. The car park is a pay and display type, run by the Lake District National Park Authority. You can pay with cash, contactless, or on the Ringo app. There are no toilets, wild wees only here!

There is another car park slightly lower down the hill (the first one you come to on the final road up to High Dam Car Park). I didn’t spy the prices but it looked like it had an ice cream/coffee trailer which is worth knowing, although it was all closed up when we drove past at 9am.

High Dam Walk – The Details

The walk starts at High Dam Car Park, and leads uphill until you reach High Dam Tarn. You can then either do a loop of the tarn, or find somewhere to set up and enjoy the water somewhere.

  • Length of Walk: Up, around the tarn and back down is 1.9 miles/3.1 km
  • Time of walk: It took us 30 minutes to get from the car park to High Dam, 30 minutes to walk around it, and around 15 to get back down. I have read that people have gone much faster than this: I can only assume they didn’t have 3 children and a wayward dog with them.
  • Terrain: Woodland path all the way up, some bit were quite steep and ‘steppy’.
  • Footwear: We did it in trainers and it was fine. After wet weather walking boots or wellies would be advisable.

High Dam Walk

1. The walk starts at High Dam Car Park. Here you’ll see the giant bobbin (from Stott Park Bobbin Mill) with a carved relief map on the top, showing the path up to High Dam past Low Dam. Take the path from the entrance of the car park, leading up the hill.

2. Follow this path with the beck on your left. There are a few places to access the beck, which is lovely to spend some time throwing stones in (always fun!).

3. You will pass a path going off the the right. This is a little loop that misses out some of the steeper stepped bits, but we find those bits are ok for kids AND keep it more interesting, so we just stay on the path.

4. Continue up, following the little yellow arrow markers.

5. After a while, you will come to Low Dam on your left. Low Dam is much smaller then High Dam, and is a sign that you’re almost at the top!

6. Very shortly after Low Dam, you will see a stone wall up ahead, along with a bridge over a river. Head up here, and High Dam will come into view.

7. You made it! Now you can choose whether to walk a loop around the tarn (for us this took 30 mins) or find a nice little glade along the waterfront to set up for a snack and maybe a paddle.

8. If you walk clockwise around High Dam, you will stay close to the water and come to plenty of places to stop and play/chill close to the tarn. Anti-clockwise, you will first come to some lovely areas next to the water. The path then leads across a boardwalk, before getting higher and further away from the water before descending and rejoining the waterfront.

Both ways are beautiful, it just depends how far everybody’s legs want to go.

High Dam is very popular with swimmers and paddle boarders, and we’re definitely planning on coming back with our wetsuits next time!

If you’re looking for walks in this area, you might want to read about the nearby walk up Gummers How.

If you want inspiration for other things to do in the area, you should read 12 Things to do in Bowness on Windermere.

If you’re looking for ideas for places to stay, have a look at the 21 Best Family Campsites in the Lake District.

About the author

I'm Michelle, Lake District resident and founder of this site. You can mostly find me up a hill, on a lake, or enjoying a hot chocolate by the fire. Feel free to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you!

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