Wild Swim Adventures

As you may or may not know, we love a bit of wild swimming here at Kestrel Lodge, and just recently we’ve discovered a couple of absolutely stunning spots...where we were swimming all by ourselves.

Wild swimming has really taken off in the last couple of years, particularly during and following lockdown, making the lakes and river spots that many open water or cold water swimmers have been using for years feel crowded and have lost that sense of peace that we went searching for. Finding new locations that still have that “wild” quality about them is becoming an adventure in itself. But it’s a challenge we’ll take on.

There are, of course, lakes that are quieter than others, especially if you’re prepared to walk a little away from the car parks and most obvious “beach” areas. Bassenthwaite Lake, Crummock, Wast Water (though parking areas are very limited around the lake) and Rydal water are some of our picks for this.

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Rydal water swim mid afternoon 22.7.22

We went to Rydal last week during the hot weather and though the lakeshore was busy, most of the time we were there, we were the only ones in the water. Be aware though, at Rydal water swimming is allowed but no canoes, kayaks or SUPs.

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Another option for lake swimming that we’ve had a go at and really enjoyed is night swimming. We went to Coniston and had the most peaceful lovely swim there we’ve had in years. It wasn’t totally dark, but it was dusk as it was 9.30pm in mid-July. It was dark by the time we got out (no pictures of this—to dark).

Now, I’ve got to stress, if you are going to swim at night, take safety seriously. Some tips to bear in mind;

  • Make sure you are a competent/strong swimmer—I know, I know, sounds like a no brainer, right? But this is safety we’re talking about, so nothing goes without saying.
  • Don’t go alone—Have a partner, preferably one who is a strong swimmer who could help you should you get into trouble.
  • Ask yourself if you’re confident that you could help your partner if they got into trouble? Could you tow them back to shore if they got cramp
  • MAKE SURE YOU CAN BE SEEN—use tow floats with lights in (light sticks work well inside them), use waterproof lights that can attach to your swimsuit or goggles. Use a waterproof headtorch. I use a light stick inside my fluorescent pink tow float (don’t judge me!), a strobe, white light attached to the outside of it, and a waterproof headtorch (it’s a scuba diving one but available on Amazon for ~£35). Not only can I see, I can be seen easily. We also put a waterproof light on the dog so we can always see where he is too.
  • Scout your entry spot in the daylight—this way you know if your entry and exit is clear and you’re not going to be fighting your way through a nettle or bramble patch, or that there isn’t a load of broken glass or rubbish lying around. It will also give you a good idea of what you’ll be walking into when you enter the water. Is it all rocks that you’ll be tripping over or is it a sandy bottom? Are there weeds that might trip you as you walk in? Is it a quick drop off, or will you have to walk out 10-15meters before the water gets to your waist? A little looking in the light can mean the difference between a successful and failed night time swim.
  • Acclimatisation—give your body time to adjust when you get in the water. You should be doing this in the day time too, but it becomes even more important at night because our senses are even more acute and it isn’t just the temperature that you’re are acclimatising too. You’re adjusting to the sights and sounds of the nights around you, and relaxing into it, especially if it is your first night swim.
  • Enjoy it. If you aren’t, talk to your swim partner and get out.
  • Make sure you have suitable attire for after your swim—Dryrobe, towels, warm fleece/puffer jacket, dry shoes and socks, warm pants/joggers etc. You’ll feel colder than normal getting out at night.
  • Have a warm drink with you for after your swim—Hot chocolate works best for me as coffee that time of night doesn’t help me sleep, but you do you ;-)
  • A nice warm shower when you get home will finish warming you up.

I hope this has given you a few ideas and just as importantly keeps you safe if you do decide to give night swimming a try. Stay safe, keep exploring, and keep swimming!

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