13 July 2014

Upland Tarns.

The word ‘tarn’ is derived from the Old Norse ‘tjorn’, which was used to describe any small body of water. It means ‘a small lake’ or more poetically ‘a teardrop’.

Tarn is a regional term used largely, but not exclusively in the Lake District, which along with many other local names, originated with the Viking invaders who settled in Cumbria in the tenth century.
The tarns in Cumbria were formed as a result of glacial action, when the glaciers and ice sheets finally receded some 10,000 years ago, scouring the landscape, allowing water  to be trapped and contained. Many of the highest and most spectacular tarns occupy corries (from Scottish Gaelic coire meaning a pot or cauldron) scooped from the fells by ice, some are surprisingly deep.

Bleaberry Tarn.
Bleaberry tarn and Buttermere looking down from Red pike.

Lying south-west of lake Buttermere, Bleaberry Tarn (meaning blueberry tarn) is a fine example of hanging valley and corrie glacial scenery. The tarn lies between Chapel Crags, Red Pike and the tough scree of The Saddle. The outflow of the tarn flows into Buttermere via the quirkily-named Sour Milk Gill.

Grisedale Tarn.

Grisedale Tarn is surrounded by the high ground of the summit of Fairfield itself, Dollywaggon Pike and Seat Sandal. In the past, the tarn was a welcome watering hole for traders on the packhorse routes that used to move goods through the Lake District.
Grisedale tarn looking towards raise beck from Fairfield path, can you spot the shed!
There are a few other historical stories associated with it. Legend has it that the last king of Cumbria, King Dunmail, was killed in battle at Dunmail Raise and buried under the large stone pile at the top of the pass. The kings’s surviving warriors are said to have threw his crown into the waters of Grisedale Tarn.

Red Tarn.
Red tarn and striding edge looking down from Swirral edge.
A textbook glacial corrie tarn with surrounding back wall, lying beneath the summit of Helvellyn and surrounded by the southerly ridge of Striding Edge, the northerly Swirral Edge and Catstye Cam. Red Tarn is fed by a number of streams running down its back wall into the corrie and it flows outward down into Glenridding Beck. In the 1800s the Tarn was dammed with boulders, raising the level of water some eight or nine feet in order to supply power to the lead mines in Glenridding.

Blea Water reflecting the back wall.
Blea Water.
Remote Blea Water is one of two corrie tarns that lie beneath the eastern crags of High Street, the other being Small Water. Circular in shape, Blea Water bears the distinction of being the deepest tarn in the Lake District. In 1948 its depth was ascertained to be 63 metres, which is exceeded only by Windermere and Wastwater in the Lake District. The tarn occupies a dramatic setting, edged on three of its sides by an amphitheatre of towering cliffs and slopes of Riggindale Crag, Pilot Crag and High Street.

3 July 2014

Humps and Hollows

If you went out for a walk up on to Crinkle Crags one weekend late in June you may have seen what looked like an army of people working on the fellside.  The reason?  It was the Basecamp Blitz weekend.  The event was organized by the team at High Wray Basecamp and the Fix the Fell Lengthsmen.  As well as staff and volunteers from the Lake District working over the weekend, there were representatives from Snowdonia and the National Trust for Scotland.  Thankfully, the project that was to benefit from all these helping hands was the South Lakes path team project at Crinkle Crags.

One of the problems on the path is that many people take short cuts.  In days gone by we would have blocked these short cuts by digging in stone to try and keep people on the path.  If we’d used this approach on this particular project then we would have needed to fly in hundreds of tonnes of stone which can be very expensive and so a different technique had to be considered. 
Short cut that has developed down the grass

 This is where Humps and Hollows come in.  The idea is that the line of sight (or the short cut) is broken up by sections of undulating ground.  If done correctly, these undulations can blend in perfectly with the surrounding landscape and put walkers off from using the short cut.  If done incorrectly, they can look something like Tellytubby land and stick out like a sore thumb.  So with this in mind, Rob delivers his brief to the group on day one.
Rob points the way

The first thing to do was to strip the turf from a large area.  The turf is then stacked to the side and then the profiling (or shaping) of the terrain can start.  Areas are then lowered and raised in height by moving the soil around.  This is done over several hours and by this time the Humps and Hollows are created.  To finish off, the turfs are then placed back on the area.
With so many people working on the project it could easily become congested and so we decided that the best way forward was to split the group into four smaller groups that had their own section of landscaping.  This provided the groups with ownership for their particular section and a bit of competitiveness crept in which created lots of banter between each team.
Turf Wars

So after three days and plenty of work done, the Humps and Hollows were completed.  The finish was of a very high quality and blended into the landscape perfectly. 
Short cut has gone

As well as all the great work done it’s perhaps the bigger picture that has to be considered with weekends like this.  With so many staff and volunteers working on site over the three days from all around the UK, it was a really good opportunity to pass on knowledge and form links with other areas.  Hopefully, weekends like this will continue next year and beyond.  Thanks again from the Path team to all who worked on the project over the three days.