Tongue Pot


The day after we got back from our Ullswater trip. TBH and A were off on a beano, at Wellies and Wristbands, a music festival for Girl Guides. I wanted to take the boys to Eskdale, and managed to persuade them that it was a good idea after showing them some  videos on Youtube of people swimming at Tongue Pot. We left home early, to ensure that we have no difficulty in getting a parking space at the bottom of the Hardknott pass, by Jubilee Bridge. The people (and dog) in front of the boys above had parked next to us and we were leapfrogging each other along the valley.

Bowfell was looking very imposing ahead and it probably would have been a good day to climb it, but we had other plans.


This is Tongue Pot…


It’s shallow at this end, but shelves steeply and is very deep in the middle.

The couple (and the dog) had reached the pool before us, but had similar plans. They were soon into their wetsuits, very quickly into the pool and then very soon out again. They weren’t very encouraging about the temperature of the water, very kindly offering me a loan of some goggles, but warning me that complete immersion would make my head hurt. They had a point: it was bitterly cold.


The couple were soon on their way again, back down the valley for a hot chocolate in the pub. I’ve seen this before, wild-swimmers in wetsuits arriving at a well documented swimming hole, changing into wetsuits, swimming for two minutes and then heading back to their cars. Each to their own, obviously, but I don’t really understand – is it really worth the effort?

Once they were gone we had the river to ourselves for a while. Little S had a wetsuit, but is all skin and bone and struggled with the cold, he did manage a swim, but then opted to get out again. I think the time he’d spent half in the water dithering hadn’t helped. B and I, without wetsuits, were in and out of the water – jumping in, exploring a little upstream, swimming up to the waterfall etc  – for around an hour. Swimming against the current proved to be extremely hard work. B is a stronger swimmer than me, but he also struggled to get to the base of the fall.


Once we were out, we put all of our spare gear on in an attempt to warm up (it took quite a long time) and ate our lunch.

A large commercially-led party, all kitted out in wetsuits, buoyancy aids, helmets and red jackets, came past us and jumped into the pot.


Then they climbed out on the far side and jumped in from there, a much longer drop.


I’ve written before about my frequent visits to Eskdale in the past. This jump, which we christened ‘The Megaleap’ was often a big part of those trips. B had been up to the top to take a look, but had decided not to jump. Now he was really keen to change back into his trunks and have a go, but this hardly seemed fair on Little S who had been very patient with us already.

So instead we did a little exploration upstream. There was another group swimming in what looked to be a good spot above the confluence with Lingcove Beck.


River Esk.


Lingcove Bridge.


Lingcove Beck.


Waterfall on Lingcove Beck.


Red Admiral.

The boys are now both eager to return to Tongue Pot. Next time we need to visit after a spell of settled weather when the water might not be so icy and the current should be more manageable. It’s been many years since I last swam there; I’m pretty sure I shan’t be waiting so long until my next dip there.

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Tongue Pot

8 thoughts on “Tongue Pot

  1. What! You went swimming in the Esk! Without me! There must surely be something in the constitution about that. I’m hurt. Offended. Friendships tainted…….
    It actually does look really cold even in the photos. The fact that the flow looks quite high won’t have helped. There are a couple of superb pools higher up including a lovely circular one we camped next to. I bet the boys would love the Esk gorge scramble all the way to the top
    I hope you told the boys some of the many, many stories associated with this. Some of the very best memories from my post university years were from around here. Cracking stuff

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      I did recount a few stories. I’m sure they would enjoy the scramble – I’d certainly like to do it again. But this wasn’t the day for it, the water was running too high. I notice that it’s listed as Grade 2, but I don’t remember any difficulty, so I assume that’s because it’s harder if you pursue an ‘ethical line’ rather than swimming all of the deep bits. We will be back at some point, B in particular is desperate to return. Next time, however, we need to go after a few days without rain, it makes a big difference.

      1. Yep, its grade 2 if you avoid the water. From memory there is one small fall that takes a bit squeezing and squirming to get up but nothing difficult. I’d like to wild swim more often but I was hampered by my knee op this year. Really enjoyed this post, rekindled some great memories

        1. beatingthebounds says:

          I seem to remember a climb to avoid a fall which is a bit exposed, but I just remember the rest being fun. Oh, also – is it a bit hard to escape near the top?

          1. If I was going to take the boys I probably reccy it first. Also need to remember I’m a lot less nimble and sure footed than I was (and I wasn’t very sure footed and nimble to start with before you say anything!)

            1. beatingthebounds says:

              We’ve been out since (Wren Gill in Longsleddale post to follow) and I discovered that the kids, especially B, were much more able to squirm up awkward sections than I was. I did gain confidence in my own ability as the day wore on, but none of it was very difficult in all honesty.

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