Originally published in the Guardian on 17 July 1967

WESTMORLAND: The best place to be during the recent heatwave has been nicely submerged in a Lake District pool – preferably with a waterfall at one end, pleasantly shadowed by an overhanging rowan and close by a bank of sweet-scented thyme. In this way on the hottest and sultriest day – especially after long exertions on the heights – supreme contentment may be achieved for 10 minutes or so, and the tired wanderer will emerge feeling like a giant refreshed. The Lake District, in spite of all its water, is not always the best place for swimming, the lakes often being too cold, too crowded or dangerous with currents and unsuspected depths, and the tarns sometimes weed-choked or rocky, but for the occasional dip on a scorching day the opportunities are exceptional.

There are nearly 500 mountain tarns in the National Park, but the pools in the becks have never been counted, there could be thousands of them. The upper Esk, the Duddon, the Derwent, the Lingcove Beck, Grains Gill and scores of other dancing waters all have their pools, strung along their twisting courses like pearls in a necklace, and hundreds of them invite the weary traveller to jump in and forget his aches and pains. Some are only large enough to allow you to slide in off the rocks and take about two strokes, but one of the very best of them must be many yards long and at least 20 feet deep – a cool dark canyon between glistening vertical walls which might have been built for the job. To reach this place, perhaps two miles away from motor coaches and litter bins, at the end of a long day is to reach something like paradise – the thunder of the falls in your ears, the spray in your eyes, the sun glinting on the rocks, the shingle shining in dark depths. There’s only one thing to do – jump in and become a new man.

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Source: The Guardian

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