“Immortal Bowscale” from a swim 18/4/22
Bowscale Tarn is not particularly on the way up anything, and so it happens that in all the decades I’ve been visiting Cumbria, I had never seen it before. I remember looking longingly at tarns as I was dragged up the mountains as a child, but you cannot see this one from the top of Blencathra, the nearest good climb, and swimming in them was hardly the done thing anyway.
Nowadays, people barely blink at swimmers in tarns, though “is it cold?” is still a common enquiry. I wonder if the fish have noticed a change over the years?
You see, according to local legend and several learned Victorians (William Wordsworth, Harriet Martineau and others) Bowscale Tarn is home to two immortal fish. And – depending on the version – one of them can talk.
Would it be, I wonder, worse to be an immortal talking fish with nobody to talk to, or a speechless immortal fish stuck for ever in the same body of water, with another fish that never shut up?
Perhaps they welcome the human chatter. Perhaps an unspoilt tarn, even one so purportedly magical as to reflect the stars at midday, is a very small pond to an immortal fish. We brief beings who descend into their world, bringing news of elsewhere, or more likely simply amusing anecdotes concerning pants, may seem wondrously exotic. In any case these fabled fish didn’t make their presence known. Though to be fair, they may have struggled to get a word in edgeways.