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Set in the hanging valleys and high pockets of the Langdale Valley, a walk from Old Dungeon Ghyll.
I've included a painting by Heaton Cooper (1863-1929) in the gallery as his book 'The Tarns of Lakeland' was my bible when exploring which of the lakeland tarns were swimmable - he swam on many a painting expedition; had a swimmer's heart and a keen eye for the best rocks to jump from, the best place to sunbathe, the best view from a swimmers perspective.
Of this tarn he said "In high summer this pocket among the hills can be broiling hot, and the tarn an invitation for a swim... When I cease to respond to this place I shall know I am growing very old indeed."
The invitation to swim from the tarn - like so much about the lakes - is unchanged. "There are several places below the scree where one can dive from great boulders into the clearest and iciest of green depths, fed from cisterns far in the mountain. In the early part of the year when the tarn has been impossibly cold, I have found a slightly warmer substitute in the small peat-moss tarn on the moraine about a hundred yards to the south east. Grass grows up to the edge all round it, and you can take a running dive from the bank. It is more salubrious if you refrain from disturbing the mud at the bottom."
Pavey Ark, behind the tarn, is a a popular route with climbers, so swims often have the backdrop of scramblers ascending Jack's Rake.
I can't find my own notes right now - all I remember is some territorial seagulls nest on the island and dive bomb swimmers who get too close - so here are his words: "What a solemn and impressive place it is on a winter afternoon, when the low sun casts great shadows from each rock buttress of Pavey Ark, when Harrison Stickle throws it's long shadow acrss the scree below, and when buttress, gully and shadow are mirrored, darker and greener, in the still waters of the tarn."
"The most usual first view is from the dam at the outlet, with the wall of Pavey Ark filling the sky and the water dark below it. Hardly anything could be more different than the view from the opposite end where the stream comes in. From here, sky and water are separated only by a thin ribbon of land, and by the distant peaks of the Coniston Range - Wetherlam, the Old Man, the wedge-shape Swirl How and the sharp point of Carrs."
The tarn has a dam and Heaton Cooper ended his description of Stickle Tarn talking about how the genorosity of men like George Trevelyan and the National Trust had preserved the tarn.
In 2015 we have the news that Stickle Tarn is up for sale and local swimmer Pete Kelly from Head for the Hills is looking into buying it with a consortium of open water swimmers. Whoever the tarn goes to access won't be restricted - enjoy!
Spectacular views. It's a good walk up, but that's lucky because you might need to build up a bit of heat. I swam there in late October and there was ice on the edges. Even in warmer months I understand it stays pretty cold. Pub/cafe at the bottom of the hill for warming up and celebrating the achievement.
This is a crowd-sourced map. Abilities vary, and conditions change. Always assess risks for yourself before getting in.
Cold. There's a lot of jagged stones about the edges so watch your step getting in and out.
We visited in June and it was 14 degrees Celsius. It was made even more cold with a mean wind whipping over the water. A fun swim, where you got swimming pretty quickly. We found a shingle beach below Jakes Rake.