#33: Tarn at Leaves

Yesterday I went up to Tarn at Leaves with Alex. It’s just above Borrowdale, very close to where she used to live, so I let her lead the way. When I suggested doing this tarn when we met up in the morning Alex said ‘Oh, yes, that’s one of my favourites! I’ve never swum in there but I saw a sheep swimming in there once’. Apparently she was worried about the sheep at first but when she approached it it just swam away. So at least we knew someone enjoyed swimming in our chosen tarn!

We set off up towards Bessyboot, stopping every few minutes to rest from the very steep climb and enjoy the fantastic view back down Borrowdale all the way to Derwentwater and Skiddaw beyond. Alex had warned me that once you got to the top the tarn was difficult to find – and so it proved. It’s very lumpy and bumpy and you have to work out exactly which bump the tarn is hiding behind. We spent a little while gazing at a patch of marsh and wondering whether the tarn could just be REALLY low this year, but decided probably not and continued the search. And, eventually, we found it, nestled between several knolls, and reflecting the land around it. We were both pretty hungry by now, so we sat on a rise and ate our lunch and talked about how dark the water looked. How very, very dark the water looked. Black really. Could be anything in there. Could be monsters. Could be anything hiding in that dark, dark water…

Having sufficiently worked ourselves up, we got into our swimming things and set off around the edge of the tarn. To say the ground was spongy would be an understatement. We sank deep into the moss and mud several times, with Alex going in up to her thigh at one point. We made it round, however, and then had to gear ourselves up to get into that black water. And it was cold. It really was. We started out slowly, one step at a time (still talking about the possible existence of tarn monsters) and finally threw ourselves into the cold water and stared swimming. As ever, once I’d been swimming for a couple of minutes the cold seemed to diminish as I got used to it. The swim was cold, but good (and we weren’t attacked by any monsters). I’d told Alex about often feeling elated after a swim, even if the swim itself is very cold or difficult. As we got out she said she could see what I meant, although she did point out that could just be an early sign of hypothermia.

We made our way back down and went our seperate ways – Alex to count bats and me to wander around Keswick before setting off to Eskdale. I ended up going for a walk with Rhys and Ben and then having tea in Keswick, so it was fairly late when I set off, but I wsa so I glad I left when I did. As I drove down Langdale and then over Wrynose and Hardknott passes the sun was going down in a glory of pink, orange and blue. There’s nothing like a sunset in the mountains for all-out stunning beauty. And I finished my day at Eskdale YHA where I’ll be for the next couple of days, exploring some of the tarns in the south west. Fantastic.

(Photos to follow)

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