‘Exploring Lakeland Tarns – A Complete Guide’ by Don Blair is a book that I received from my wife Frances a few years ago. It was a useful addition to our OS maps, Alfred Wainwright Pictorial Guides and other walking books. It seemed to kick-start another aspect of Lakeland life exploration for us. After the Lakes, the fells, towns and villages, the tarns became another area of interest.

A tarn appears to be defined as a mountain lake or pool, formed in a cirque excavated by a glacier. Don adds other aspects to the definition and has compiled a list of approximately 300 named tarns in Lakeland. In his book, he refers to some enthusiasts who achieved 700+ ‘plunges’ in tarns – let’s just say that there are lots of them.

This month, I’ve written a short description and routes to 5 popular tarns with appropriate photographs and would encourage you to explore:

Dale Head Tarn – Grid Reference 230153 – Altitude 1634 feet, Depth 3 feet

A popular rest/lunch location on the Newlands Horseshoe between High Spy and Dale Head. There is a good direct route to the tarn on a track that follows Newlands Beck from Little Town [233194] in the Newland Valley. The shortest approach is from the head of Honister Pass. A variety of aquatic plants thrive here, including water horsetail, sedge, water lobelia and bogbean.

Scales Tarn – Grid reference 329282 – Altitude 1953 feet, Depth 26 feet

This is an almost circular water sunk within a deep corrie on the eastern slopes of Blencathra. It is flanked to the north by Sharp Edge, a superb arete. Water flows from the tarn as Scales Beck to join the Glenderamackin and on to River Greta. There is parking near the White Horse Inn, off A66 at Threlkeld. A path leads up Mousthwaite Combe onto the lower slopes of Scales Fell. From there, follow the path above the Glenderamackin and then left, up Scales Beck, to the tarn. Invisible from A66.

Bleaberry Tarn – Grid reference 166155 – Altitude 1621 feet, Depth 16 feet

This is a classic corrie, with Chapel Crags, flanked by Red Pike and High Stile looking down to the water below. Invisible from Buttermere but can be


seen from Whiteless Pike and Grasmoor. The shortest approach to the tarn is from Buttermere. Follow the path to the west side of the valley and then walk up the path that climbs steeply to the left of Sourmilk Gill. The ascent is fine but take care on the descent. The tarn is a convenient location for a break en route to Red Pike, High Stile and High Crag Group.

Blea Tarn, Langdale – Grid reference 293044 – Altitude 600 feet, Depth 23 feet

This is one of the easiest tarns to visit with a convenient car park on the Little Langdale to Great Langdale road. It has a backdrop of the Langdale Pikes. However, a great way to visit the tarn is by a fell walk - Lingmoor Fell [1539 feet] via Side Pike from Dungeon Ghyll returning via Blea Tarn. The view from above the tarn is tremendous.

Stickle Tarn, Langdale – Grid reference 287076 – Altitude 1539 feet, Depth 52 feet

This is one of the finest corrie tarns in Lakeland, set against the rock face of Pavey Ark and overshadowed from the west by Harrison Stickle. The stone-faced dam raises the water level approximately 6 feet but detracts little from the tarn’s beauty. To the right, a weir gives birth to Stickle Ghyll. Ascend to the tarn from the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel via the Stickle Ghyll path. For Wainwright baggers, the tarn is an excellent opportunity for a break en route to Pavey Ark [2288’], Thunacar Knott [2351’], Harrison Stickle [ 2415’], Pike o’Stickle [2323’] and Loft Crag [2270’]

Neighbours, Keith and Margaret recently visited Lanty’s Tarn from Aira Force near Ullswater via Glenridding. I enjoyed listening to their walk experience which provided me with a prompt for this article.

I recommend Don’s book – he writes: “The fascination of tarns lies in their diversity of size and setting, their changing moods occasioned by weather and season, and in the variety of plant and animal life they sustain. Some may be visited with little effort while others require route-finding expertise of the practised hill-walker. The mild excitement of the hunt provides a special satisfaction.”

I just can’t follow that! Stan Bleaberry Tarn Scales Tarn at Blencathra

Blea Tarn at Langdale

Stickle Tarn and Pavey Ark ISSUE 424 | 22 MARCH 2018 | 29

Dale Head Tarn Reflections

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