13th September 2007

An evening around Devoke Water


Walk Overview
Time 16.30 to 18.35
Duration 2 hr 35 min
Distance 3.4 mile
Ascent 540 ft
Walking with Jamie Lockie
Birker Fell Road - Devoke Water - Water Crag - Rough Crag - Birker Fell Road
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Roadside parking, near Devoke Water (Birker Fell road)

Being one of the least frequented area of the Lake District means that the limited parking around here is generally adequate anyway. The obvious place to park to reach Devoke Water is at the crossroads at the Birker Fell Road for High Ground or Devoke Water. Although, there are a actually couple of other places close by with space for a couple of cars each.

Needless to say parking is free.


Route Map

It wasn't a very long walk this evening I'm afraid, but what the walk lacked in distance it more than made up for in enjoyment. This is a lovely quiet area; well away from the more crowded parts of the Lake District and just the type of terrain I enjoy the most.

Approaching Devoke Water.
Devoke Water is the largest of the Lake District tarns and perfectly fits in with the dictionaries definition that a tarn is a "high mountain lake". The word tarn actually comes from the Old Norse for pond ( tjörn ), which, when compared to the modern dictionary's description may well open up the ongoing debate about a puddle becoming a pond, becoming a tarn, becoming a lake.

If you should choose to enter into the lake verses tarn argument then Devoke Water is doubly difficult to agree on. Its name alone raises certain questions; if other "bodies of water" with "water" in their names are classed as lakes then why isn't this one or better still, if it was meant to be a tarn it would be called Devoke Tarn. You can't fault that, although in opposition you could say, it can't be a lake because at 760ft it's too high up in the fells and everyone knows lakes are found in valleys. Yes, another perfectly valid point; but hold on a moment, isn't Haweswater actually a little higher than this and that's accepted as being a lake, , , , , And so the debate goes on, with both sides offering evidence which brings the opposition crashing down to a no win situation and a stalemate.

Over the years I've came across many different criteria or indeed combinations of criteria used to define a tarn; things such as they shouldn't dry up during hot spells, they must have an outflow, someone even suggested it was only a tarn if it had fish in it and then we get back to the height argument, but what exactly is the height? Whatever people come up with to justify their opinion, that is precisely what it boils down to - opinion.

I prefer to take the simplest, none scientific view; which is this. Everyone knows which ones are "definitely" lakes, so in that case I'm more than happy to accept that everything else must be a tarn. You can't get much less complicated than that. We could however sit and debate one way or the other until the cows come home, but at the end of the discussion when no body actually goes home a winner, the fact that we refer to this as a tarn, lake, pond, puddle or indeed anything else is irrelevant. The most pertinent thing is that we; again taking the simple approach, delight in the beauty of these wonderful places; the jewels in the crown that is the Lake District.


A fisherman enjoying the peace and seclusion next to the ruins of the boat house at Washfold Point.

A walk around Devoke Water can often be a rather boggy affair with a degree of crisscrossing required if you wish to remain dry at the end of the walk. Which you don't usually succeed at. Not today though and apart from the coupe of narrow streams you can't avoid, the area was surprisingly dry.

This is a windswept, desolate landscape these days and not somewhere you'd expect to find much evidence of human activity, let alone human habitation. If however, you were to descend about 200ft by taking a short walk to the south west of Devoke Water, you'd find proof to the contrary. Around the area known as Barnscar the remains of hundreds of Bronze Age huts have been discovered. Add this to the multitude of ancient cairns in the area and we can safely say that this was once a substantial and thriving community.


Looking past one of the large cairns to Caw. The pointed fell in the background.

Close to the tarns outflow you'll find this small waterfall at the top of Linbeck Gill. I'm not sure what the short section of wall is for.

Standing on Water Crag summit and looking across to Rough Crag. Some of the fells in the background are Esk Pike, Bow Fell, Crinkle Crags, Harter Fell and Green Crag.

Water Crag summit again, this time with Devoke Water below us.

Taking a moment to admire the scene.

Heading back along the track to the Birker Fell road.

A lick of paint wouldn't go amiss on this sign.


David Hall -
Lake District Walks