#34-#38: Stoney Tarn, Eel Tarn, Blind Tarn, Siney Tarn & Blea Tarn

5 tarns in one day today! My second Blind Tarn (of two) and my second Blea Tarn (of three). And a significant landmark. I have 137 tarns on my list, so as of this evening I now have less than 100 to go! Easy…

The other times I’ve tried to do several tarns in one day it’s been pretty hard work, but today felt very chilled out which was really nice. I set off from the hostel at Eskdale and walked up to Peelplace Noddle (what a fantastic name!). The path was not always easy to follow – sometimes it was completely overgrown with bracken, at other times it had given up on the idea of being a path and was trying a new career as a stream. I was heading for Stoney Tarn, but missed the path slightly and almost went right past it. I suddenly saw it below me, looking blue and inviting in the sunshine. I headed down and made my way to the far end where I would be walking from once I’d swum. I stripped down to my bikini, got my towel out of bag and set off around the tarn to where I wanted to start. At which point the sun went behind a massive cloud and the wind picked up. I was feeling a bit deflated, having walked up in such lovely weather, but as I stood there in the cold a voice drifted across the water – ‘Go on!’. There was a man sitting on the far bank, watching my reluctant toe-dipping. So that was that. I had no choice. I had to get in, right now. I’m not really one for leaping straight into freezing cold water, more of a few-steps-at-a-time person. I was standing waist deep, letting myself acclimatise when the voice drifted across again – ‘And a bit more!’ – so off I went. Another cold tarn, but not as cold as Tarn at Leaves yesterday. It was a lovely swim, despite the sun being behind a cloud and made all the more enjoyable by the occasional shouts of encouragement from the man on the bank.

Once I’d dried myself off and put a fleece over by wet swimming stuff I headed to Eel Tarn. It looked beautifully idyllic as I approached, surrounded by reeds and cotton grass with lilies floating on the surface and ducks drifting peacefully in the sunshine. I made my way round it to the far side, got ready to swim and then walked back to where I’d come from to start the swim. This was another tarn with some pretty sinky ground around it and I had to pull my legs out of deep watery mud more than once! The swim was lovely, the water was shallower and warmer than Stoney Tarn and it was nice watching the ducks at the far end. I didn’t see any eels though.

After this swim I headed back to the hostel for lunch and then drove down the road a little and parked close to Beckfoot Station. From there I headed up to find Blind Tarn, Siney Tarn and Blea Tarn which are all very close together. It turns out that Blind Tarn and Siney Tarn are just pools in the middle of a huge marsh, so access was a bit of an issue. I found a dry raised bit of ground to leave all my stuff on and tramped, clad only in bikini and wet shoes, through the marsh to Blind Tarn. This was by far the smallest and shallowest tarn I’ve done yet. It barely even counts as a tarn. It’s just a bit of marsh that’s wetter than the rest. It’s full (no really, it’s FULL) of weed and barely a few meters across. I lowered myself into the thick, brown water and threw myself forward, wondering if this was how I was going to die – not suffering an attack of hypothermia in some huge, high up tarn, but dragged down by weeds in the smallest tarn in the world. This was, of course, rather melodramatic, and it was, of course, fine. The water was lovely and warm as you would expect and the only problem came when I tried to take my underwater selfie. The water really was a deep, dark, peaty brown and I only had to put my hand a few inches under the water before it vanished from sight. If I held the camera at arm’s length as I normally do I was completely invisible – although that didn’t really matter as at that distance a thick curtain of weed was between me and the camera anyway. I had to hold the camera close to my face and so ended up, basically, with a picture of my nose looking very orange.

The walk to Siney Tarn, although only a matter of meters, was a new challenge in marsh navigation. Sinking regularly up to my thighs I ended up on my knees to try to spread my weight and stop myself going in too deep. I made it to the tarn (quietly thankful that there was no-one around to watch me gallivanting around a marsh on top of a fell in my bikini) but couldn’t really swim across as half of it was so thick with plants that swimming through them would have been impossible. So I did a little circle, enjoying the warm water and the ludicrousy of what I was doing. Both of these tarns were quite fun in their way, but only really in that it was such a ridiculous thing to do – no-one would swim in either of them unless they had set themselves some kind of stupid challenge.

Crawling, mud-streaked and grinning out of the marsh I wrapped my towel around myself, picked up my bag and my shoes and walked around the corner to Blea Tarn. This was a totally different thing. Apparently ‘Blea’ means blue and it was certainly living up to it’s name. Sitting in a little dip, tranquil and brilliantly blue in the sunshine this tarn looked very inviting. As it’s rather bigger than the two previous ones I was expecting the water to be pretty cold, as it was this morning in Stoney and Eel Tarns. But as I stepped into the water it was beautifully warm. I had a lovely swim, my favourite of a very good day, surrounded my blue water, bright green fells and gently baa-ing sheep. This is such a fantastic swimming spot, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who fancies a bit of tarn swimming.


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