Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Seathwaite Tarn

Nestling in the cupped embrace of the Coniston Fells lies Seathwaite Tarn, all glittery and serene. It’s wrapped up by a wild autumn tapestry of dull olive, blazing copper, and pale maroon, sprinkled with a hint of grey cliffs and little patches of piney green. The fickle sky’s in a sullen mood, draping the shadowy fells in a wispy mist.

Now, about those tarns — a word borrowed from Old Norse, ‘tjorn,’ meaning a small lake. But how many tarns are there in the Lake District? Back in the 1950s and 1960s, a couple of folks from Grasmere swore they’d bathed in 730 of them. But a list published in 1993 gives you a more modest 220, with 40% of those having been modified by man, mainly for water abstraction1Wilson, Peter. “Lake District Mountain Landforms”. Page 162. 2010. Scotforth Books..

Seathwaite Tarn is one such tarn. Back in 1904, they built a dam and raised the water level by 6 metres to supply water to the good folks in Barrow-in-Furness. At the peak of this little makeover, there was a workforce of about 500. They even set up a shop right up here for them, but those hardworking navvies would often nip down to the Newfield Inn in Seathwaite village2‘SEATHWAITE WATER SCHEME. | Millom Gazette | Friday 26 May 1905 | British Newspaper Archive’. 2023. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0002289/19050526/082/0005> [accessed 11 October 2023].

One fine day, things went pear-shaped. The navvies had a bit of a dust-up, trashing the inn and other buildings in the village. In the heat of the moment, the innkeeper and his barman decided to make a stand. They fired their guns, and four of the men were shot. Sadly, one didn’t make it through the night3‘The Seathwaite Riot. | Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette | Thursday 28 July 1904 | British Newspaper Archive’. 2023. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000289/19040728/053/0005> [accessed 11 October 2023].







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