Lake Lakelake Lake


This post is my small contribution to the Greek economy, as the words “rain”, “August” and “Yorkshire” may occur in sufficiently close proximity to encourage any readers contemplating a holiday in the UK to consider putting their pennies into the pockets of Greek hoteliers instead.   I’m just back from a break, walking in the Yorkshire Dales, having dropped off my youngest son at the Lord of the Flies theme park that is the Leeds Festival.   As you may have noticed if you follow this blog, I don’t really do “holidays”, at least not in the traditional sense of “stop thinking about work” so here goes …

The photograph above shows Semer Water, the second largest lake in the Dales, after Malham Tarn although, this being limestone country, neither is particularly large in absolute terms. It is a glacial lake less than a kilometre long and no more than 10 metres deep. We parked our car at the village of Bainbridge, about 3 km to the west, then circumnavigated the lake, alternately putting on and taking off waterproofs at the whim of the passing clouds.   The photograph above captures the lake at one of the sunnier moments during the day. Not complaining, just commenting.


Semer Water, photographed from the approximate location where J.M.W. Turner painted his view of “Simmer Lake” in 1816 (inset).

Just beyond the east end of the lake there is a sign encouraging visitors to sit at the location where J.M.W. Turner sat to paint his view of “Simmer Lake” in 1816.   The low clouds in Turner’s view show that the weather was no better in July 1816 than it is today.   My view along the lake, however, was obscured by a row of trees. Note the relative positions of the large boulder with respect to the lake then and now: sometime between Turner’s visit and ours the lake level was artificially lowered (using explosives to remove some of the terminal moraine at the outfall, I was told) in order to expose the low-lying area to the west so that they could be used for grazing.   That may explain why the boulder today is so much further from the lake shore than in Turner’s day.

The name of the lake itself is quite interesting: it is variously reported as “Semer Water” (Ordnance Survey maps), Semerwater (Natural England documents) and even Lake Semerwater (interpretation board at west end of lake).   The word “Semer” is, itself, derived from two Old English words for lakes: “sæ” (close to the German “see”) and “mere”, so Semer Water is, effectively, “Lakelake Lake” and Lake Semerwater is just plain ridiculous.   It is enough to drive a man to drink and, fortunately, the Moorcock Inn at Garsdale Head serves Wensleydale Brewery’s Semer Water beer, a refreshing light ale that you almost certainly cannot buy in Greece.   So there is one reason why it is worth visiting Yorkshire in August after all…


One thought on “Lake Lakelake Lake

  1. Pingback: When is a diatom like a London bus? | microscopesandmonsters

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