Cumbria Scenes – 24.5.12

Seathwaite Tarn

There are more than one Seathwaite’s in the Lake District.
The most famous one is Seathwaite-in-Borrowdale, near the head of the short but glorious Seathwaite Valley, gateway to the highest fells in all England and, due to that proximity, the wettest place in England: its rain-gauges return at least 125” of rain every year.
Larger, but less famous, and much less visited, is the Village of Seathwaite, lying in the midst of the Duddon Valley. Seathwaite-in-Dunnerdale, as it ought properly to be described, lies six miles from Duddon Bridge, just below the narrow mid-section of the valley, as High Knoll intrudes.
Where Seathwaite-in-Borrowdale gives its name to Seathwaite Fell, the sturdy outcrop diving Lakeland’s highest pass and it’s best known, Seathwaite-in-Dunnerdale lends its title to Seathwaite Tarn, north-east of the village, tucked into a narrow valley between the long outspur of Grey Friar and the main spine of the Coniston Fells.
The Tarn, converted into a reservoir in 1904, can be approached from the Village along the broad path to Walna Scar Pass, which climbs up to the ridge south of Dow Crag, ultimately linking the quiet Duddon with Coniston Village, making it the Lakes’ most southerly Pass.
This photo is taken from above, from the main ridge of the Coniston Fells, between SwirlHow ans Brim Fell. It looks out across the Tarn’s lonely valley, towards Harter Fell, on the far side of the Duddon and, beyond, the tangled ridge of Green Crag and Crook Crag, beyond which lies Birker Moor and the outlying summit clustered forlornly at the back of Black Combe.
I came by Seathwaite Tarn on my first ascent of Grey Friar, approaching its furthest shore by a direct route out of the higher Duddon, briefly following its shores and then angling up onto that green ridge prominent in the photo. To avoid retracing my steps over trodden ground, I returned by the pathless head of the Tarn’s lonely side-valley, out of sight and earshot of anyone.
I was striding down, in confident rhythm, when I was alerted too late to the appearance of a small patch of light green ground, directly in my path. My right boot came down, and kept going down, pulling me into another, equally treacherous step with my left, into bog. I was in to my mid-thigh with my right leg, almost to the knee with my left. Instead of displaying some Positive Coping Reaction, I panicked and, somehow, managed to wrench one leg free, far enough to get my knee onto the solid ground directly in front of me, which I could use to lever my other leg out: slimy, soggy and altogether acky, but no longer threatened with sinking out of sight.
With somewhat greater care, I squelched down the rest of the valley, until the Tarn came in sight and I could walk its visible shore until diverting downhill to my car.


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