BB1838 : Tarn Baggin'

Wednesday 21st November 2018

When Bryan first mentioned his proposal to me, I couldn’t stop thinking about a song that has previously featured in these reports- Star Trekkin’ by The Firm.  The one for which the video features Mr Potato Head as Captain Kirk .  Only in this case the words morphed into "Tarn Baggin’ across the Lakeland Fells".

Today’s expedition would be a tour round eight named Lakeland Tarns and would also be a further stage in Martin’s comeback with his new bionic hip.

Tarn number one would be Alcock Tarn, hidden above Grasmere after quite a steep climb up to Butter Crag.  

The first time I visited it, BB0837, I likened it to an infinity pool. Later visits were a little disappointing as it had become somewhat overgrown with reeds.  Today the reeds were in evident but mostly as debris on its banks.  Presumably broken off by storm force winds.  The disappointment was the weather- visibility not that great so infinity couldn’t be seen.

I asked Bryan if that was the scene of his famous “You can keep your hat on” swim but he corrected me.  No.  Wrong song. It was where he went  “Night swimming”.

The descent was partly down the Grasmere sports fell running course.  How these lads can reach the Butter Crag turning point and back in twelve minutes or so totally beats me.

Nearing the bottom we discovered a tarn that was not on Bryan’s list.  He dismissed it as a small reservoir but then so is Alcock Tarn.

Lower down were the two small tarns he wanted to see, Whitemoss Tarn.....

..... and How Top Tarn.

Sadly both are now heavily overgrown by vegetation, more of which later.  The Postman clearly thought the latter was a good place to have his butties.  Or a sneaky kip!

We crossed over the valley, passing between Rydal Water and Grasmere (neither of which count as they are lakes).  The view from Loughrigg Terrace was rather different to those on the classic postcards!

Silver How Tarn was our next objective.  This required quite a climb, passing by two more small unnamed tarns that were not on Bryan’s list.

At the top of a bit of a scramble up Meg's Gill we found Silver How Tarn

Next Lang How and its three tarns.  The first, Brigstone, is suffering from reed infestation which is a shame as it used to provide a superb foreground for the distinct peak of Lang How.  

The next,  Youdel, is really a pair of tarns which are also becoming reeded.  Is this the future for the Lakeland Tarns?  Will they increasingly disappear under vegetation?  You can see the logic- formed by the aftermath of the ice age, they are slowly losing their depth under vegetation.  Will that process extend to the lakes in due course?  Perhaps it already has.

We hadn’t bagged all eight of Bryan’s tarns, only five, but we had found three more for him so we decided that was enough for today.  The afternoon was drawing on.  We didn’t want to continue on to Easedale Tarn and then be caught up there in the dark.

We didn't see Blind Tarn but then it didn't see us either!  I don't think it exists anymore.  Just bog called Blind Tarn Moss

Bryan taught me a navigational lesson.  You cannot rely on the green dashed markings on an OS map indicating a footpath.  They might not be accurate; they are just a general indication.  Much more likely to be correct are the black dotted paths.  And so it proved to be as you can see in the map below.  This took us safely down to Grasmere.

I am pleased to report that Martin’s hip performed well.  This is a man who, only two weeks before his operation, had limped his way across a 1km Via Ferrata with some very scary exposure.  What will be do now he has working joints?

Bryan, too, has had his exciting adventures and is featured in a recent edition of Adventure Travel Magazine.

You can get a flavour of it in the KE Adventure Travel brochure.

As for me?  I’ll stick to Tarn Spottin' on the Lakeland Fells.  I'm sure there is a song in there somewhere!  Any suggestions for the lyrics?  There's a small prize awaiting the best submission.

Don, Wednesday 21st November 2018



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Comitibus:  Bryan, Martin, Don


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Map : OS 1:25k


BB1838 : Tarn Baggin'


Wednesday 21st November 2018


8 Tarns

Distance in miles (Garmin):


Height climbed in feet (OMN):


GPX track



Bryan, Don, Martin


If you want to know which BOOTboys reports refer to having visited any particular Wainwright or certain other hills, see BOOTboys Hill Log.  Warning- it might not be fully up-to-date!

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