To three tarns. Beware hydrosere, a summer tarn lush with aquatic flora asking to be photographed, where bog and open water are hidden by flowers.
Before us, a mass of starry bogbean flowers. I stride forward, my camera ready. Next moment, I am sinking. From firmer ground, Barbara tries to grasp my hand. One of my walking poles snaps and drowns and I am prone in the water on my back. Austin grabs my rucksack straps and hauls and hauls but the bog holds me in its grip, and sucks and sucks. He has me by the shoulders but Grendel’s mother swims up from the depths and grasps my legs and she’s monstrous-strong. The surface of the water is sprinkled with mayflies, their breeding accomplished their brief lives over. A sheep has drowned and is decomposing in the bubbles of the bog. They come to drink, and drown in the mire. Sphagna have anti-bacterial properties, I tell myself, you slap it on wounds.
Rescued, as I lie beside the tarn my boots look enormous, congealed in matter from the mire. At Ullscarf cairn, I pour water from them, pick out wads of dark mush and wring out my socks. The fabric of my trousers seems seeded.