#54: Little Tarn

Today it rained. And rained. And rained. I spent most of the day pootling around Keswick with Angela but before I went home I decided I wanted to squeeze in a swim. The fact that the rain was hammering down actually made me want to swim more – I love swimming in the rain, there’s something so nice about it. I’d been looking at the map earlier in the day and had spotted Little Tarn – not too big or too uphill and not far from the road. Perfect for a quick evening swim. I drove along a narrow, bumpy, winding lane between high hedges to a spot near the start of the footpath I wanted to follow. There was a perfect place to park with a sign on it saying ‘Parking by Permission Only’. I had no idea how to get permission or who to ask. Luckily after a couple of minutes of looking around for someone I noticed a man staring at me through the window of one of the two or three houses. I waved my hands around and mouthed a bit in a way meant to convey the message ‘Can I park here?’ but for quite a while he just stared at me blankly. Luckily he eventually opened the door and said I could park there. Hooray! I sat in the car and changed into my swimming costume and shorts and just put my waterproof over the top with my towel tucked inside to keep it dry.


I walked down the road to find the footpath and set off for the tarn. I had to walk through one field with two cows and their calves in it. One cow stared at me the whole time I was walking through the field which was pretty intimidating. In fact at one point I was even considering whether to find another way. I wasn’t going near them and I stayed as close to the hedge as I could, but this cow really had a good stare. I was trying to remember whether you should stare a cow out or not. Will it make them think you’re big and scary and intimidating and they should leave you alone or will it just make it angry? I also didn’t want to run in case this was construed as an attack. I settled for a hurried walk while glancing furtively at the cow from under my hood about once every 2 seconds. Yeah. I showed that cow. I was very relieved to climb over the stile and find myself in a field of sheep. Sheep aren’t scary. I can deal with sheep.


As I walked across the field I got my first view of the tarn. Another stile and a trek through some long grass and I was there.


The tarn is pretty much surrounded by trees and the edge is reedy. I chose the place I thought best suited for getting in, it’s main advantages being a) it was right in front of me and b) it was a point at which I could actually see the water through the trees. Points highly in its favour I think you’ll agree.


I took off my soaking wet trainers (all that walking through wet grass!) and my waterproof which I wrapped around my towel to keep it dry. It had actually stopped raining at this point which I was a bit disappointed about but I wasn’t taking any chances with the towel. Then I made my way through the reeds, trees, grass, stones, old dead branches etc into the water. The edge was very sinky and as I stepped into it I smelt that old, familiar smell of rotten plant gas rising up through the water. Ah, it’s good to be back.


The water felt much colder than in Boretree Tarn the other day and at first it was unpleasantly cold. But, as ever, I soon got used to it and by the time I’d got to the other side (only about 3 minutes) I was feeling fine. According to Archibald the thermometer duck, the water temperature was 17 degrees C. I set off back to where I’d started but found that by this time I was enjoying it so much that I spent a few minutes just pottering about in the water, taking stupid selfies, listening to the (very communicative) sheep  and watching a bird of prey (possibly a buzzard  – I wish I was better at identification) circle overhead.



The point where I got in and out had some waterlilies by it which I had to go through and I’m always a bit nervous about leeches. I’ve never (to my knowledge) had a leech and I don’t particularly want one, although I am aware that I’m going the right way about getting one. As I got out of the water I was checking my legs and just as I pulled my right foot out of the water I saw it. Something black and slimy looking on my ankle. I yelped and brushed it off with my hand. It came off straight away, and my reaction was so instinctive that I didn’t really get a proper look at it. Whether it was a leech that hadn’t latched on yet or just an old leaf I will never know, but it was a tense moment, especially after last week’s encounter with the tics!

Once out of the water I vaguely dried myself (seemed a bit pointless as I was about to walk through lots of wet grass in the rain), wrapped my towel around myself and put my waterproof over the top. I like to think I am something of a fashion icon when it comes to post-swim wear.


Walking back, there was a track leading almost directly to the car which I’d missed on the way out as it started in a farm yard. I decided to go that way. Then I saw that there was a gate across the track where it entered the farmyard which could be locked and they might not want people going that way so I decided to go back the way I’d come. Then I remembered the cows and decided to go back along the track. The worst an angry farmer could do is shout, I’ve never heard of one trampling people who get too close. As it turned out the gate was easy to open and there was no one there to care whether I went that way or not (or to trample me. You never know).

A good swim in a nice tarn and it feels good to be back in the water again. Bring on the next one!


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