The Hidden Tarn

The various lockdowns have forced everyone in the UK to explore their local areas much more than they had previously, and my parents are no exception to that rule. Earlier in the summer, their local wandering had led them to discover a loop walk from their house which had a surprising variety of terrain and features. I'd seen a few photos of their various trips through this new place of interest, so unsurprisingly was keen to see it with my own eyes. Well, with the working year officially over for everyone in the house and a day of decent (enough) weather forecast, it seemed like an ideal opportunity.

After a leisurely lunch, we struck out through the public fields at the back of the village, along an old path that cuts through a local farmyard – and past the new Hobbit Huts! Looks like even Hayton has gotten on board the glamping wagon; we'll need to keep that in mind if we ever need local accommodation. Certainly, the views directly out over pasture to the distant Lakes are nothing to be scoffed at, nor is the sub-ten minute walk to the pub (sub-five with the right footwear and a fair wind 😁). We were surprised to see that one even had residents, though I guess under Tier 2 that's fine and dandy.

From the farm, we wound our way through some of the back lonnings[1] and over the Newcastle-Carlisle railway line to the first major excitement of the trail: the local alpacas. Dad, in particular, appears to have struck up quite a friendship 😂 – they're certainly an inquisitive bunch. Past the herd and we're on to open fields once more, with a slight rise that hides the star attraction just out of sight until the last second: a small tarn, hidden in the dip between several low undulations, and carpeted in reed beds. The water and hillocks were devoid of visible life (save the bleating sheep whose slumber we had rudely interrupted), but the sun was out on the Pennines beyond and it seemed possible it might even swing round to reach us, so we decided to stop awhile.

Of course, Mum had planned ahead, with bags to set up a makeshift patch of dry ground, a handful of biscuity treats to share, and even a hip flask of sherry to pass around (with individual cups to avoid any cross-contamination; we've been up for a while but technically not quite the requisite two weeks just yet). Sherry sipped and shortbread nibbled, we were rewarded with a brief minute or two of localised sunbeams before the clouds blocked their way once more, providing a good excuse to head onwards. Just as we were setting off, we got our first good glimpse of the remaining wilderness in the area: a sparrowhawk, apparently having been perched nearby for who-knows how long, suddenly took off over the tarn and disappeared into the woods beyond.

From the tarn, the walk winds back down towards an old friend's past house, surrounded by the remnants of both marshland and woods, before depositing us back at the train tracks. Over we go and up a climb to the edge of the village again, before looping back to the farmyard and the hobbit huts. It's not the longest walk, but it's certainly varied and I'm glad to have done it. What's more, with work done and the weather opening up a little, it's starting to finally feel like a break up in the North. Long may that continue.

Spot list

  • Sparrowhawk
  • Buzzard
  • Mistle thrush
  • Wood pigeon
  • Blackbird

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  • The various lockdowns have forced everyone in the UK to explore their local areas much more than they had previously, and my parents are no exception […]
  • People & Places
  • Murray Adcock.
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