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Tarns of the Central Lake District

By Elizabeth Haworth, George de Boer, Ian Evans, Henry Osmaston, Winifred Pennington, Alan Smith, Philip Storey, Brian Ware

Published by the Brathay Exploration Group Trust, Ambleside, 2003

Copies available from the FBA

204 pages

ISBN ISBN 0 90601517 0

Price £12.00 This book provides a unique resource of information about tarns which are such an important and characteristic feature of the landscape in the Lake District. Until 1947 there was no reliable information about the depths of the tarns and their origins were still subjects of controversy. During the next two decades young members of a series of expeditions organised by the Brathay Exploration Group took soundings of many tarns which showed that some of them were astonishingly deep. This established beyond doubt that their basins had been gouged out of the solid rock and that this was done by small cirque glaciers rather than at the glacial maximum.

This information is made available in this book as a standardised set of charts showing the depth contours. This work provided a basis and encouragement for other studies of the water and the biology of the tarns, and particularly the study of their history and that of the vegetation on the surrounding landscape by analysing the pollen and other contents of the sediments in them. This has demonstrated the spread of forest after the last cold period, followed by its progressive loss under the effects of human occupation and growing acidity of the soils.

For each tarn the chart is accompanied by a detailed account of its geological setting and origin, supplemented by information about its water and the plants and animals found in it, prepared by a panel of experts. Thus this book gathers together, from a wide variety of published and unpublished sources, a wealth of information which was not previously available in this convenient form. Over half of the tarns are illustrated by colour photographs, particularly those which figure less often in tourist literature.

In addition there are separate specialised chapters on each of these topics, setting the tarns in the context of the Lake District as a whole. The book will thus be of particular interest to those in a variety of disciplines who are interested in the scientific study of this scenery. It will also interest and satisfy and curiosity of any visitor who wishes to know more about the jewels of Lakeland.

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