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.