An hours slog up the eastern fells from Patterdale, the determined walker is rewarded with the alluring sight of Angle Tarn. This remote lake, hardly a secret as it is much loved with Lakeland walkers, nevertheless evokes all the mystique and magical calm that make it the perfect inspiration for Winart Castle, a key location in Book 4 of the Song of the Elves.
Walking up from the shores of Ullswater, the majesty of the secluded lake had not diminished from my first memories of it. I have to mention here my co-walkers, my beloved fellows of the Narlas Cipple Walking Club (NCWC). Ascending in baking heat, picnicking in idyllic English summer conditions and bathing aching toes in the icy waters were a sideshow to the ideas leaping around in my head.
In my book, Winart Castle resides on an island much larger than Angle Tarn’s biggest outcrop, in a lake that is a far greater body of water than its Lakeland inspiration. Yet the essence of the location is the same. Catch Angle Tarn wreathed in low cloud and you get a glimpse of the ancient castle of the Northwatch, wreathed in a mist hiding hideous monsters.
My annual NCWC visit to the lake brought more than just inspiring locations. The camaraderie amongst the team, the dinner-time banter, the collegiate encouragement on the steepest slopes, the sense of fun and belonging – they all fed into a wonderful melting pot of creativity. I have to salute the team of NCWC 15 as one of the greatest yet. Here’s to many more such trips, chaps! I only hope I can do our memories proud in the forthcoming The Lost, the Lonely and the Damned.
Up the Elves!