Self-Portrait in Red Tarn

Self-Portrait, in Red Tarn

I’ve walked to the top of Helvellyn an uncounted number of times over the last 30… 35… years, but I’ve never swum in Red Tarn, although I’ve often wanted to. I am usually with people who tell me this would be ridiculous, or it is freezing, or I do not fancy walking home in soaking wet pants, or I have taken other ways up to the peak which have afforded a bird’s-eye-view, but do not take me actually past this tarn, one of the highest in England, Google tells me.

This time I came prepared, not only with costume but shoes to swim in (so as to avoid this sort of scene). But it is one thing to want to leap into the clear, cold, deep and gloomy-blue waters of the tarn; and quite another thing to actually be there, staring into her inky depths.

I did one loop of the edge and it was a glorious cool kilometre or so, but I wouldn’t cross the middle, not on my own. I never did discover why she is called Red…

Self-Portrait in Red Tarn

Self-Portrait in Red Tarn

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