Beacon Tarn

The weather forecasters have been trying to put us off once again, with threats of ‘Arctic’ northerly winds and snow. Certainly it was bitterly cold and snowing last night when I went to the Co-op to get milk. It might have led me – especially in view of my recent bout of depression – to pull the duvet about my ears, wrap Tosca round my toes and sleep on.

It was a beautiful morning though. Crisp, to be sure, but with a sky of a deep and enticing blue. It wasn’t even cold in the sun. So I set off with a hopeful step. I was using my new trekking poles for the first time. In previous weeks others had raved about how helpful they were, especially at savig dicky knees, What’s the first thing anybody said to me today? “Can’t stand the things!” Can’t win, either.

So, we set off across the not terribly prepossessing terrain of Lowick Common; a knobbly and sometimes very boggy stretch of moorland. At the end of the first incline we had our first incident. A lamb, which had become disconnected from its mother, wished to invite us to be surrogates. It made a lot of surprisingly loud bleating noises and wasn’t taking no for an answer. We were all trying desperately hard not to let it touch us, not easy when it’s behaving like an over-affectionate kitten (can’t risk transferring scents in case the ewe rejects it afterwards).

After a couple of hours of undulating bog and grass we crossed a ridge to be greeted with the magnificent sight of Beacon Tarn, backed by Dow Crag and Coniston Old Man (see picture, click on it for more). It seemed a good place to stop for lunch, so stop we did. And then the blue sky was blotted out by a heavy roll of mist, followed by a snowstorm. Time to move on. The sky cleared. Then more snow rolled in. Actually it wasn’t all that unpleasant, as the wind wasn’t all that bitter and one would far rather have snow blowing into one’s face than good old Lakeland rain.

The second half of the day was along the shore of Coniston Water, in bracing but not unpleasant conditions and constantly changing light. I like Coniston Water, it’s not hideously tacky and lined with PRIVATE PROPERTY notice like Windermere and its quiet wooded shores are a delight to walk.

It wouldn’t be a proper walk to Coniston, would it, without a visit to the Black Bull for a pint of Old Man Ale – but blimey, they haven’t half put their prices up since last time I was there. Next time it’s the Crown, ok?