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tarns running walking trousers

Written by George Fisher

Image for article Tarns and trousers

After running around all sixteen lakes in the Lake District last summer, I suggested to a friend that it would be a good idea to visit all the tarns too. She kindly found a website called Lakes, Meres, Tarns and Waters that gave grid references for them all, and highlighted them on a map. Luckily for me, she decided to give the task up before she’d even started, and gave me the best gift ever; the map and all its adventures.

The originator of the Tarns website had put in a whole load of effort listing them and their descriptions. He’d decided, with over 1,000 bodies of water, it was realistic to list the 166 in the National Park that are named on the OS maps (four are inaccessible due to being within private land). I thank him for all the hard work that’s enabled me to have such a great six months exploring new places.
In between my tarn-ticking exploits I’ve had to do some work, getting ready for this season’s ranges. Legwear has been a bit of a focus for me, gambling that we might see a summer and need shorts. How short should they be? Five, six, eleven inches or a Capri? Between Kuhl, Patagonia, Rab, Montane, Haglofs, Norrona and Arc’teryx there’s plenty of choices. Not forgetting Royal Robbins has a zip-off travel pant for men and women with an Insect Shield Technology, if you’re unlucky enough to be anywhere with biting bugs or in Keswick when the midges are out.

A weekend off, with more tarns to be ticked; Scales and Bowscale Tarns were a warm delight to paddle in. Then it was back to the much bigger problem of trousers. Mid, low or high rise? Then short, regular or long leg? Plus that’s not my only thought now skinny fit is also here too, it makes sense if we wear skinny jeans or tights. Montane has addressed this with the Ineo Pro, but Patagonia has the Skyline Traveller which Rachel in our marketing team and I tried on, and we were both surprised by their comfort and stretch once we’d got used to the fact they felt like tights but looked like trousers. Arc’teryx has a trouser called the Sabria which is a slim leg pull-on, and it took a while to get my head around the fact that there is no zip. But hey, neither do my yoga tights. All three of these pants are worth trying on, but don’t expect them to feel like a pair of hiking pants; just feel the comfort. Don’t worry, we also have a host of pants for men and women that are trousers, not tights, selected in different fabric weights and (where we can), in short, regular and long leg.


Back to days off and my tarns project. I’ve loved route planning, spending hours looking at the map looking for places I’ve never been. It has been funny not having a summit as a goal or a pivotal point in a day out; instead I’ve linked valleys and cols with a fair dose of bog thrown in. (Top tip for boggy days: wait until it’s frozen, or dried out! However, I just wear Smartwool socks and accept I will have wet feet as I’ll be in knee deep.) There have been many highlights and I can only encourage everyone to find the list; even if it takes you six months or six years to complete, it’s worth it.

Hole house Tarn above Devoke Water was probably the boggiest day we had, but its remoteness gives a view into the Lakes that will bring me back. We spent a night at Irton Hall, and from here were able to explore all the beautiful tarns, walls and waterfalls in Eskdale. Scattered showers, but just at the right moments the skies were filled with rainbows; it really is worth going out in the rain, but map and compass were really needed. The Coniston area was tackled in deep snow with golden light. Blind Tarn, Goat Water, Seathwaite Tarn, Levers Water, Low Water, and not forgetting that puddle beside Walna Scar Road called Boo Tarn. Maybe the snow and light made the day, but I still find being under Dow Crag impressive and the shoreline track of Levers just lovely. Who needs to be on the tops? Finding Dry Tarn on Gable (and it wasn’t dry) was a surprise, I’d never noticed it there or Lambsfoot Dub on the Corridor route which brought me a different way off Great End and not my usual Esk Hause path. I had a wee bit of an epic going to Hard Tarn, a double visit as I first photographed a large bog that’s slightly higher than the Tarn. Then climbed up onto Nethermost Pike to look back and see Hard Tarn below me, and realised it wasn’t the wet bog I’d pictured just to the left beside a raised mound of rock; trust the altimeter. I went back a few weeks later, early morning with crisp alpine air, well worth the second attempt plus an ascent of Cofa Pike and onto Fairfield which broke my ‘no summit’ rule, but worth breaking on a windless blue sky day.

I must admit, I did become a little obsessive with this little task I had set myself. In December, I was due at a family birthday party at 11 am. At 9 am, my dad phoned my mobile to see if we should car share and I had to admit I’d just been to Lily and Loughrigg Tarns and was just running back to the car to get back to Keswick and shower. We traveled separately, I wasn’t late and had ticked two more on the list! There was one tarn that really stood out on the list. Another one I’d never been to; I knew I wanted this to be my last, but I had to wait for the snow to melt. Following a compass bearing and altimeter with excitement, I knew the last was close as I crested the hill. The day had been cloudy, yet at that moment the sun came out to celebrate my last tarn. The location and the view were stunning, but I can’t tell you which one because you’re going to have to decide for yourself what your last tarn will be…