I woke today to heavy grey skies, more wind than I would’ve liked and feeling tired and drained. I think the end of season at work has finally caught up with me. Bearing this in mind, and with the fact that I’m doing Coniston tomorrow in the back of thoughts, I decided to take it easy today. I spent the first part of the morning catching up on filling in my notebook and then got in the car and pootled over to Nether Wasdale. I was due to meet Torben at 12.00 and it was gone 11 by the time I got there, but I was determined to do one before I went to meet him. There is a tiny blue dot on the map, just outside the village labelled ‘Flass Tarn’, so that was where I headed. It was only a couple of minutes walk across a field and there it was. Or so the map lead me to believe at any rate. If I hadn’t been looking for it I think I may well have just walked past it without noticing. Almost the whole tarn was covered with reeds and plants. There was one small space at one end free of vegetation. But you know me by now. I was not to be put off. It had been raining when I’d parked and, unwilling to get all my clothes wet I had decided to strip down to my bikini (the bottom part of which is shorts by the way) in the car and walk to the tarn covered only by my lime green waterproof coat. So all I had to do was slip off my trainers, peel off the already sodden coat and gambol round to the far side. I had a nagging fear, this tarn being so close to the village, that at any moment a farmer would appear and see me, clad only in my bikini, thrashing my way pointlessly through thick weeds in a muddy, foot-deep pond in the rain and ask me what the hell I thought I was doing. I wasn’t quite sure what my answer would be. I tried, as ever, to carefully and daintily walk my way into the water to test the temperature and depth. I failed spectacularly. Catching my foot on an unexpected rock I fell with a graceless splosh into approximately two feet of mud covered by one foot of water. Undaunted I decided it was a good thing I’d got in so easily and ploughed forwards through the thick growth of reeds, propelling myself forwards mostly by doing the crocodile crawl with a few useless swimming strokes thrown in for good measure. I finally made it across and was just about to heave myself out when it happened. That thing I’d been dreading. Voices. A moment later a couple walking their dog appeared in the field next to me. I stood up, covered in mud and dripping wet and grinned sheepishly at them. They took a moment to take in the scene before them and then in true British style said only ‘I bet that woke you up!’ and walked on.
As Torben had to go back to work at 5.00 and I was feeling none too energetic we decided to do another easy one. We drove a little way down the road and took a path through fairly dense woods heading towards Parkgate Tarn. The main path didn’t quite go right up to the tarn so we took a little side path that took us to the water’s edge. The rain was pretty heavy by now and I’d once again come from the car in only my bikini covered by my coat. The ground got steadily squelchier as we approached the edge of the tarn. The rain beat down on the surface of the water. I looked at Torben. ‘Going in?’. He looked out at the grey water and said, contentedly, ‘Nope’. ‘Sure?’ ‘Yep.’
The water was very warm which was lovely. The smell that arose, bubbling up from the depths of rotting plant life from years past was not lovely. As the smell of rotten eggs surrounded me I grinned back at Torben who seemed very happy in his decision not to get into the water. To be honest, he was probably right. The tarn, although it was a reasonable size, was very shallow. Swimming was very hard work in such shallow water as there were lots of weeds and my knees kept scraping the bottom, but I kept going as I was keen not to stir up any more of the smell. I did a sort of circle, ending up a little way round the bank from where I’d started. Torben carried my coat and my shoes and came round to meet me. The ground was very marshy here and he called out ‘How deep do you think it iiiiiiii…….’ but the last word got a little lost as his leg vanished up to the thigh in the bog. Getting out was a challenge. It was very muddy at the edge and, as mentioned, it was very sinky. Very, very sinky, especially close to the edge of the water. So the only way to move across it was to crawl, spreading my weight between my shins and my hands. And so, soaking wet and streaked in mud I crawled through the rain across the bog to where Torben stood holding my things and laughing at me. I managed to stand up and promptly fell down the very hole that he had made only a couple of minutes before.
The best thing about this challenge is, it’s just so damn glamorous…..