Small Water Tarn – (Eastern Fells Day 2)

The Route: Small Water Tarn from Haweswater
Distance: 3.2km (2 miles) | Time: 1.00 Hours | Height gain: 200m/656ft
Start: NY469107  Finish: NY457101 | Map: OS Explorer OL5 | Date: 21/11/2011

Route Map - Small Water Tarn

Haweswater is a lot wilder than I had imagined! That was the one thought resonating around inside my head whilst driving along the narrow lakeside road towards the mountainous landscape at the lakes’ south western end. Of course I should have been concentrating on the narrow precipitous road ahead of me which carved its way through the hillside snaking along the rocky outcrops above the black, cold, and deep water below us, but I was in total awe! Here I was on my 5th trip to the lakes and I was still finding amazingly beautiful and wild areas that I knew absolutely nothing about, not a stones throw from where I was staying.

The rain had been relentless all morning and the surrounding fells around our campsite above Ullswater were shrouded in mist and low-lying clag, so we had decided that today would be a good day to go for a magical mystery tour of Lakeland in the car.

However, as soon as I saw this enigmatic landscape around me at Haweswater I knew I just had to get out and explore. We parked up and changed into our waterproofs as the wind and rain battered the car doors. I suggested – after a quick look at the map – that a short slap up to an area of water called Small Water Tarn on the map could be done easily and quickly.

Small Water Tarn

So off we set.The rain increased the wind speed quadrupled and before I knew what was happening we were involved in a mini epic just to stay on our feet. What should have been a simple hike up a rocky path turned into a treacherous slippery obstacle course.

Eventually battered and wet we reached the diminutive wild-looking tarn. On any other day I would have wanted to hang around this wild place and walk its circumference nosing about leaving no rock unturned but today it was unfortunately a case of hanker down, try to get a photo, and then get the hell out of Dodge!

The wind speed was increasing and was now whipping up mini tornadoes on the rough water surface as wave after wave of wind-swept down off the surrounding peaks which formed a natural 360 degree amphitheatre around us eventually smashing at great speed onto and across the exposed water.

A stormy and wet Small Water Tarn

Struggling to keep upright in all the resulting wind and spray discretion was now most definitely the better part of valour and so I decided that this was the end of our little trip and that it was time to beat a hasty retreat back down to the valley.

So we slipped and slid our way down, so intense was the rain that even with waterproofs on we were drenched to the bone. Covered in mud and soaked through we finally made it to the car. Unfortunately my photos were all rubbish and my camera did not dry out for days as a result of the rain but the hike had not been a total failure as I had managed to scope out a couple of wild-camp possibilities for next year and had made a definite pledge to return and hike along the ridge above Small Water Tarn via its steep ascent on its western side next year having seen the endless possibilities from afar through the rain and mist.

The miserable windy and wet descent back to Haweswater

In fact the whole area was a bit of a revelation, it is wild and uncrowded, remote and rugged offering up endless possibilities for hiking, camping and scrambling, a return in the summer is now required and a more in-depth trip report must follow and that is exactly what I now intend and simply must do!


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