A concern I am frequently asked in the hiking people especially when it involves the Lake District. What is the difference in between a lake, a mere and a tarn? You deserve to go further and also see that some lakes are dubbed water, no lake. And when walk a pond come to be a lake?

The famous trick question. How countless lakes space there in the English Lake District? The answer (for pedants) is one. Well, one that is ‘called’ a lake, Bassenthwaite Lake. The remainder are dubbed mere and water etc like Windermere.

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I thought it would certainly be good to explain here a lot of the differences, whilst trying to not get too technical. Over there is a clue to a the majority of it in the over riddle and answer, etymology. Our language and the specify name of things has acquired down the eras from so many influences native Vikings to germanic for example. Let us take a look.

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A definition, a lake is a revolution or sluggish moving basin of water surrounded by land except the flow or rivers that circulation in and also out the it. That’s that really. Friend could call nearly all of them every lakes technically.

The very first question should be, what is the difference in between a pond and also a lake, as soon as does it become a lake? over there is no rule that specifies it ‘properly’. The nearest scientific answer you gain is a pond is stand water, and little enough to enable photosynthesis come rooted tree at the bottom. What we recognize as lakes, room too deep, as well cold and the sun can’t gain all the means down, so it is a lake no a pond.

So, the largest lake in England is? Windermere, below we go.


Windermere, Grasmere, Buttermere, martin Mere come name simply a couple of examples. Technically a only is a lake that is yes, really shallow in relationship to its dimension (breadth). Take it Martin Mere because that example, if you have actually visited the you view a huge body of water, however its depth only ranges native 100 come 150 mm (4 – 6 inches.

Science will certainly tell you likewise a only is a lake there is no a Thermocline. There is no trying to obtain too technical, a simple means to define that is, think that a great of water the separates the unstable cold water in ~ the bottom and also the calm heat water in ~ the top. The cannot take place until certain depths are in place and also the temperature is best in the atmosphere.

Windermere is a complex one because it is not as shallow as numerous meres and in ‘some’ warmer components of the year it has a thermocline, yet not always.

Etymology has played a part here too. Words mere originates from Old English ‘mere’ which supposed lake or ‘sea’ in Old Saxon, a broad term because that a human body of water. Time and many many generations and language distinctions can do it all much more confusing.

Take the Mediterranean Sea for example:

The netherlands say – Middellandse Zee

However the Germans to speak – Mittelmeer

Plus the Germans call a lake a sea, eg Bodensee or Zell am watch in Austria

In language, mere and sea have diversified in time and geography, we simply used it a certain method in general. A shallow but huge lake.



Hikers and also walkers in brother will recognize a tarn, high ~ above the mountains and hills, a body of water that has actually been left end from the ice age. The is a lake, simply a glacial lake. The word comes from Old Norse,Tjörn which expected ‘pool’.


There are instances outside the Lake ar for example Malham Tarn. Although ns love the tarn, i will problem the frequently used case that it is the greatest lake in Britain in ~ 377 m. Ns would quickly go because that Red Tarn on Helvellyn at 718 m for starters.

For the pedants, weren’t Windermere, Derwentwater and so on all glacial lake left over from the ice cream age? space they tarns therefore? This is whereby etymology and geography and altitude have all played a component in the definition and confusion.


Derwentwater, Rydal Water etc. What about these beautiful and famous body of water. Lakes not dubbed lakes however water. No scientific research behind it, it all comes down to whoever called them method back in time most likely. Called as simple as possible.


Bassenthwaite Lake

Let united state go earlier one moment to Bassenthwaite Lake, the just ‘lake’ in the lake district and only because of just how it to be named. It was only referred to as Lake because Victorian times!

Through background it was taped as variations on Bastunthwaite Water and also laterBroadwater before only within the last couple of centuries an altering to Lake on somebody’s whim. Probably a local land owner.

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What around Lochs, Loughs andLlyns Etc?

Irish, Scottish, Gaelic and also Welsh have all contributed to the countless variations in surname of our body of water in the UK.

Often, lakes in Wales are translated toLlyn (eg Llyn Tegid)

Ireland, Lough (eg Lough Neagh)

and in Scotland that course,Loch (eg Loch Lomond)

That is method too an easy a definition of course. For instance in Scotland a loch is not simply a lake but likewise a lengthy sea inlet, that countless would specify as a fjord. A story for another day