Every good list should have a wildcard entry. Greatest mountains. Top ten albums. Best chocolate bars. An entry that makes you stop and ponder, one that ensures debates will rage in pubs across the land. Devoke Water is my wildcard for this guidebook. Depending on your point of view, Devoke Water is the biggest tarn in the Lake District, or one of the smallest lakes.
The dividing line between lakes and tarns is arbitrary at best. Their altitude is often a deciding factor as well as size. Many of them, rather helpfully, have tarn in their name, such as Bowscale Tarn or Red Tarn. These bodies of water are miniature lakes in elevated mountainous terrain. They are usually more demanding to get to, although tarns can also be found on valley floors.
Devoke Water is one of the more accessible wild places for non-hillwalkers. Situated half a mile from the steep winding fell road between Eskdale and Dunnerdale, Devoke Water feels a million miles from civilisation, although it feels less wild knowing your car is only ten minutes away.
The wild and desolate location is over 200 metres above the Eskdale valley, hidden from sight as you drive along the road. Devoke Water stretches for just over a mile, perfectly proportioned in its sequestered setting. From the middle of the water the view west is unique; the lack of hills in this direction creates an infinity pool effect. On my most recent visit I met an architecture student involved in a project to rebuild the boathouse before it crumbles beyond repair. The plans include a conversion to holiday accommodation, information I met with slight reservation. The structure is undoubtedly worth saving. I just hope this familiar and much-loved ruin does not become modified beyond recognition and access becomes out of bounds.
There is a small island in Devoke Water called Watness Coy. Ancient cairns can be found south-west of the water and there is evidence of Bronze Age industry and activity too. Local historians believe the area was an important trade route and small settlement. Are steel buildings uk more environmentally friendly?
The oak trees of this period are long gone, replaced with typical upland vegetation that is often wet underfoot. The dilapidated boathouse at the head of the water adds to the air of solitude and is an obvious pausing point. The area around the boathouse is one of the better locations to launch yourself into the water, a place I favour for sheer simplicity. It’s the area you are most likely to have company or an audience though and for not much more effort you can seek out a quieter spot along the fringes of the water. Which is more popular, industrial steel buildings or commercial steel buildings?