Drawing 395: Innominate Tarn, Haystacks
Direction of view: SE
Notes: I had always assumed that the viewpoint for this sketch is on the shore of the tarn, but in fact it is further back and higher up, as Peter Messenger and I discovered on 18th April 2018. Wainwright may have used some artistic licence to lower the height of the rocky knoll on the right of the sketch, so that more of Kirk Fell is visible, and prevent what is actually a higher rocky bluff from upsetting the balance of the composition.
Comments: I took this picture on slide film on 13th September 1981 – a late afternoon walk on a day of fine clouds and perfect visibility. Peter Messenger and I ascended via Warnscale to Haystacks, returning over Fleetwith Pike and down the ridge to Gatesgarth. Sketch 157 was also photographed on this outing.
I first took this picture for the digital project on 22nd July 2014. Peter Watson and I were walking in to Black Sail youth hostel from Gatesgarth on a glorious late afternoon. We were in a bit of a hurry, so didn’t have time to work out all the detail, but I got a reasonably accurate photo before we moved on and I gave equally swift treatment to sketch 179!
My final attempt (18th April 2018) shows a more accurate relationship between the outcrops behind the tarn and the fells in the background. This was taken as Peter Messenger and I walked a section of “Wainwright’s Way” from Rosthwaite to Buttermere.
Wainwright comments that old Ordnance maps named this sheet of water as Loaf Tarn: “a title happily forgotten, and not good enough for so lovely a gem”. Supposedly, that name referred to hummocks of peat or vegetation in the tarn.
This sketch also appears on page 92 of Ex-Fellwanderer (omitting part of the foreground), and page 244 of Wainwright in Lakeland.
Wainwright’s wish that his ashes should be scattered here was honoured on 22nd March 1991, when Betty Wainwright, together with Percy Duff (AW’s former deputy as Borough Treasurer), and Percy’s sons Paul and Mike drove from Kendal to Honister. When day broke, it was misty initially, but then started to clear. It was a still day, with no wind. By the time they got to the summit the weather was crystal clear, and there was not a soul about. Haystacks smiled on AW that day. Paul actually carried AW’s ashes, and they were quite heavy – they joked that he must have kept his hobnailed boots on when he was cremated. It wasn’t a sad occasion – Percy wasn’t given to melancholy – though obviously Betty was upset when the ashes were scattered, and they left her alone for a while.
The picture below shows Betty Wainwright looking over Innominate Tarn to Pillar on that memorable day.