Small Water


Small Water is one of my favourite tarns, sitting in a very rugged location below the crags of Harter Fell and Mardale Ill Bell. Crags run around most of the tarn, but the eastern end is fairly open, so offers great views back down the Haweswater valley.

Small Water is similar in some respects to nearby Blea Water, but is much smaller and less regular in shape. The surrounding slopes are also rockier at lower levels, and the whole valley is smaller and tighter. However there is also more level ground here, with a flat area to the north of the tarn with plenty of space for wild camping, although not much shelter if the wind is coming from the east.

Unlike Blea Water, which has been raised by a small dam, Small Water is entirely natural. Stepping stones cross Small Water Beck just below the tarn, carrying the path to Nan Bield Pass to cross the beck.


Grid Reference of centre: NY 455 100
Altitude: 1,500ft


How to Reach

Small Water can be reached along the footpath that leads from Mardale Head into the Kentmere Valley, heading over Nan Bield Pass. This used to be a busier route when Mardale had a thriving village, but is still a good walkers route.


We have a small walk to Small Water from Haweswater


Two nameless becks flow into Small Water, one rising in Black John Hole on Harter Fell and the other on the slopes leading to Nan Bield Pass.


Small Water Beck drains the tarn. It merges with Blea Water Beck to form Mardale Beck and the combined streams flow into Haweswater.

Other Features

One of the more unusual features of Small Water are the small rock-built shelters on the northern shore, presumably built to shelter travellers on Nan Bield Pass when it was a busier route.

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