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Angle Tarn (England)

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A high mountain tarn situated in front of the Angletarn Pikes

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      09.11.2009 19:39
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      A place well worth the effort of climbing

      The world is overcrowded: it's a fact of modern life. Everywhere there are cars and people, everywhere rush and bustle, all the landscape bursting with our roads and cities. So it is all the more special on those rare occasions when you stumble across a rare unspoilt corner of the earth. Angle Tarn is one of those corners.

      What it is?

      It is perhaps misleading to describe Angle Tarn as a lake - although it may qualify by size, it does not fit the coiffeured, managed template of lowland lakes. The word 'tarn', meaning mountain lake, carries more suitable overtones of wild country - of Richard Adams' 'high, lonely hills.'

      Lying at the foot of the Angletarn Pikes in the far eastern corner of the Lake District, Angle Tarn lies in a dip in the long, broad back of the ridge. It is a ragged edged little water body, dotted with algae and a few tiny islands and trimmed with endless rocky outcrops (perfect for picnics). On hot days that water takes on the same rich cornflower shade as the sky: in Winter, it lies grey and crinkled like slumped silk. All the time, except when the clouds come down to cloak the mountains, there are distant summits peaking over the rim of the bowl in which the lake sits.

      I should warn the reader that this is not a bombastic knife edge ridge, or a gushing, thundering waterfall. It is a tarn of no considerable size (dwarfed by all of Lakeland's more famous lakes - Ullswater, Derwentwater etc). But it is a tarn with grassy, sunlit sides, were the curve of the hill protects you from the bitter upland wind, and where you can take pause at the heart of a walk, to breath and mountain air and feast on the hazy view.

      How to Get There

      I hesitate to describe Angle Tarn as one of lakeland's destinations - despite its beauty, it is relatively hard to access, with no simple out and back walk. The most direct route is for those who park at Glenridding, who can take the track around the southern end of Ullswater and brave the long, steep climb straight up to Boredale Hause. From the Hause there is a fun footpath threaded across the side of the hill, traversing gullies and eventually dropping the walker over the edge of the dip containing the tarn.

      Those looking for a longer walk might be wise to try and incorporate Beda Fell, a wonderful lumpy-bumpy ridge of a hill with multiple mock peaks. Our own chosen route to the tarn consists of setting out from Glenridding, walking up to Angle Tarn, down Beda Fell and subsequently tracking back to Glenridding along the lake path next to Ullswater. The route can be done in reverse, but the views from Beda Fell are so brilliant that it is much better to go down hill to better enjoy them! This is a walk of ten or twelve miles, so not easy, but well worth doing.

      But because of Angle Tarn's position, anyone with an OS map of the area (far eastern fells) and a basic knowledge of navigation can plan copious routes up to the tarn. My final suggestion for those planning paths is a very personal one. If you continue along the pat that skirts the tarn, towards the long arch of HIghstreet, you find yourself on a little mountain called Satura Crag. It seems unprepossessing at first - a justifiably forgettable collection of rocky lumps and peat patches. But when you begin to cross the rocks, the path invites your feet onwards, until (if you are like me) you are giddily rock hopping, while the valleys fan out to your left and the land falls dizzily away to the tiny reservoir of Hayeswater on your right. There is a real feeling of fresh air, and of sky. Grand, Satura is not: but it has long been one of my favourite half miles in the lakes, and I would strongly suggest trying to include it.

      Pros

      The pros of Angle Tarn are obvious - stunning, understated natural beauty, great views and a feeling of true peace and quiet. It is also (relatively speaking) an easy walk for any experienced hill walker, and can be altered or edited depending on the inclination of the walker. It is the perfect lunch spot, whether you are walking two miles or twenty.

      Cons

      The only real down point is that there is no way of reaching the Tarn without a tough climb - a practical distillation of the phrase 'no pain, no gain'! Walkers should also bear in mind that the areas around Boredale Hause and the top of Beda Fell are flat and marshy, and so hard to navigate in very bad weather. Generally it is pretty easy to keep on track, but do not attempt the route in bad weather if you are unsure of your navigation skills!

      Just a note

      At the risk of sounding preachy, I'm going to add this note to all of my walking reviews. Mountain weather and mountain ground are both unpredictable: however easy your planned walk, do not go out without a good map and compass and serviceable waterproofs. Walking and the outdoors are incredible, but they are also very powerful - make sure you treat them with respect!

      Recommendation

      In an earlier review of Hallin Fell, I described it as a perfect mountain for families. Angle Tarn is also a brilliant family walk, but its distance from the nearest parking place leads me to suggest that this walk is one for kids who are already keen, confident hikers. It is also not one for peak baggers - although the Angletarn Pikes present a not inconsiderable target. Rather, it is a place for people who walk to see something new, to enjoy the views, to meander and to think. It's a place for those who like to daydream.

      If anyone else has come across Angle Tarn, to pause mid walk and sit a while on the cool, sunny hillside - if anyone else had ever gazed out across the wind brushed water - please leave a comment on this review. It would be nice to know that this particular corner is as beloved to others as it is to me.

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