I was introduced to Gurnal Dubs in 2019 when a good friend said to me that it would be a great place to try my first wild swim. He was right. It’s a bonny little body of water that’s great for a paddle/swim or to let your dog/s have a cool off. Today, though, it was a little on the murky and misty side so staying warm and dry was far preferable to me.
As always (this walk has become a regular of mine), I parked on Potter Fell Road near to Larchbank and headed up the footpath towards Hollin Crag. I follow this path across Birk Rigg (it’s a very gentle incline) and stick to it until reaching the tarn, Gurnal Dubs. Along the way you’ll have fabulous views across the whole of Kendal town. The tarn is artificial, and is sometimes known as ‘Fothergill Tarn’. It sits atop Potter Fell, which is one of the lowest fells in South Lakeland, not far from the lovely village of Staveley. Alfred Wainwright described the fells around here as being the better ones to aim for if you would struggle with the usual Wainwright summits. They really are a gentle and steady climb and there are plenty of pretty resting spots to enjoy a picnic break or watch the regular wild swimmers.
From here, follow the clear grassy footpath towards the boathouse and head up to the crossing over the wall that takes you towards Potter Tarn. As you are walking down towards the water, you won’t be able to miss the breath-taking views of the Coniston fells in the far distance. As you reach the tarn, just skirt the edge and drop down to the dam wall. Follow the signposts that take you up and over the field and downwards towards Frost Hole, and when you reach the wall, turn left and follow the path towards the ramshackle Side House where you’ll find a lovely little waterfall.
Shortly after passing Side House, you’ll reach the lanes that meander their way back to the beginning of the walk. Regardless of the time of year you are walking down the lanes, there is always a glorious variety of plant-life to take in. Today it was the sublime-smelling wild garlic and yellow hawthorn flower. If you haven’t tried it before, give these flowers a gentle rub and get close in to smell coconut! A sensory delight.