Carlisle Tarn – a natural pond in the Lake District


Carlisle Tarn, just below 3000 ft on the flanks of Skiddaw, in the English Lake District


It’s natural to assume that the Lake District is mainly notable for its lakes. But it also has a lot of ponds – and the picture above is a typical Lake District sight.

This is Carlisle Tarn, a pond below one of the half dozen highest peaks in the Lake District, Skiddaw.

Carlisle Tarn is a natural waterbody in a classic location for a pond in the mountains – in a small col between two areas of higher ground. Water running off the slopes on either side of the col naturally accumulates in any depressions before overflowing down the side of the mountain.

Even though this little tarn had a centimetre of ice when we were there, below the surface there was no shortage of animal life: a very quick look with the sieve revealed water beetles, midge larvae, young lesser water boatmen and a well-grown hawker dragonfly larva – almost certainly a Common Hawker.

This is one of hundreds of such little water bodies in the Lake District. But even though people have been intensively studying the Lake District lakes for the better part of 100 years, very few have looked in the ponds.

More recently, the Cumbria Tarns Project has started to rekindle interest in what will probably turn out to be some of the most important, fragile and under appreciated freshwater habitats in a notably wet area.


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