#52: Toby Tarn

I feel I should start this post with an explanation. The sun has been shining, the weather is glorious – and I’ve not been swimming. Not once. But there is a reason… at the start of May I had a minor operation on my foot. Nothing too major, but I’m not allowed to get it wet at the moment which rather puts a stop to the swimming. It is, however, very frustrating and if it goes on much longer I am seriously considering rigging up some kind of foot-raft out of inflatables.

So how, I hear you ask, did I manage to get across a tarn today without getting my foot wet? Well, I’ll tell you…

Next weekend I am planning to do the 10in10 challenge, a walk of over 16 miles taking in 10 Lake District Peaks in under 10 hours. I decided to go for a practice walk with Dawn today and after much umming and ahhing over where we would go we decided to go to Whitbarrow, near Kendal. As we were starting out on our walk we noticed a tiny blue line on the map labelled ‘Toby Tarn’. It was so small I could only just make out the tiny blue mark on the map, but the name was clearly there and the rules state that any tarn named on the OS map must be crossed. We had a really nice walk through the woods around Whitbarrow, despite the fact that the paths on the ground appeared to bear no resemblance to the paths on the map and for most of the time we had no idea where we were. We eventually found ourselves on the other side of the wood and managed to locate ourselves on the map. We decided to go and have a look at Toby Tarn and see what it was like. At this stage I was thinking that we would just check it out ready for me to come back another time and swim across when my foot is better. As we approached, it was hard at first to see the tarn, which lies in a bit of a dip in the ground, but eventually we saw a gleam of water through the trees. Thoughts such as ‘Oohhh, lovely’ and ‘Maybe I could dip one foot in’ passed through my mind. But as we got closer all such thoughts vanished away. Once upon a time, I imagine, Toby Tarn (doesn’t the name make it sound nice?) was a beautiful blue pool of water. Now, however, it has completely filled up with mud and is grown over with grass and cotton grass apart from a narrow strip at one edge of wet mud mixed with the… erm… leavings… of many, many cows. Swimming was never going to be an option here. The water was about an inch deep in its deepest parts and mostly what there was was cow poo and mud. But… most of it was just grass now. I could just walk across it. And the tiny bit of it that was mud rather than grass… I could just jump over that… Now, I know that this is not strictly within the rules. Technically, I should’ve got right in there. But the point of this challenge is to have fun and explore new places. I had found a new place and leaping over a quagmire of pooey sludge without being a hundred per cent sure whether I would make it to the other side was pretty fun. So that’s what I did. I walked to the far side and then walked back across the grassy bit. There were a few holes filled with water where the cows had trodden. And when I was nearly across I jumped the last bit. And I didn’t land in the poo. Hooray!

So, for the first time in the challenge I didn’t get an underwater selfie. I know, I’m sorry, but as I said, this is about having fun, not about making myself ill by sticking my face in cow poo which would have been my only option. So I put a bit of mud on my face and took a picture of that.




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