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Q What’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween a tarn, a loch and a llyn? Ja­son Pitcher via Facebook

If this was the ‘One Word An­swer’ ques­tion, the re­sponse would be sim­ply ‘ge­og­ra­phy’. We should prob­a­bly of­fer a lit­tle more than that, though. Lochs, llyns and tarns are all lakes of some kind, with lochs pri­mar­ily found in Scot­land, llyns in Wales, and tarns in north­ern Eng­land.

The word ‘loch’ is the Scot­tish Gaelic word for a lake or sea in­let. In Ire­land, the Isle of Man and north­ern Eng­land the de­riv­a­tive ‘lough’ is often seen.

FA­MOUS LOCHS Loch Ness, Loch Lomond, Loch Ma­ree

The ori­gin of ‘tarn’ comes from the Old Norse word tjörn mean­ing pond. Rather than lakes in gen­eral, it's usu­ally ap­plied specif­i­cally to up­land pools – par­tic­u­larly those left by glaciers.

FA­MOUS TARNS Red Tarn, In­nom­i­nate Tarn, Stickle Tarn

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