Open Water Swimming
As a quieter lake Bassenthwaite is a great wild swim spot. There are many places to enter the lake and options of long, short, or medium swims.
My pick is always to stay away from the A66 side and use the various access points on the opposite side. As a shallow lake (Just 21m at its deepest) it also has a reputation of being warmer than lakes like Wast Water, so all in all a good Open Water Swim Spot for all abilities.
Bassenthwaite Lake also tends to have limited lake traffic, generally just a few sailing crafts and safety boats, which are usually at the top end around the sailing club.
(Opposite end to Keswick)
Scarness Entry Point
There is a great parking spot just 2 minutes walk from the lake side. A small lay-by that will fit about 5 cars, I’ve always found parking available here. This lay-by is just before the entrance to Bassenthwaite Lakeside Lodges Caravan Park. Once you are parked there is a marked footpath straight down to the lakeside and scarness bay.
As soon are you get to the lakeside there is a slipway entrance that avoids the stones or walk around the lakeside to pick your own entry point.
Scarness Bay to St Bega’s Church
Enter the water at Scarness Bay and swim out passed the moored boats, once out far enough to round the headland, bear right. Follow the shoreline around the headland and into the next bay. This is a quiet, pretty bay known as Bowness Bay. You can enter and swim around this bay or go straight towards Bowness Woods and church bay.
Keep swimming and you will get a glimpse of St. Begas Church. I always swim just passed the church to the small jetty that is used by the Calvert Trust. Have a breather here, or turn around and head back.
My guess at distance is approx 2 miles but as I don’t have a swim-distance-odometer it is an educated guess
To extend this swim you can simply keep going to the end of the lake. The river Drewent enters Bassenthwaite Lake at the Keswick end so this is a good turn point. As Bassenthwaite Lake is 4 miles long, my educated guess would be Scarness Bay to the end of the lake is a little over 4 miles.
End to End
If you would like to swim the length then there is a parking spot and entry point just off the A66. Take the turn towards Bassenthwaite and then turn sharply right towards Bassenthwaite and the Castle Inn. Follow this road, passing the sailing club on the right, and just before the Bridge there is a parking spot. It is marked Banks Point on an Ordinace Survey Map.
Park here head down to the lake side to start your swim. The lake is just over 4 miles long so to swim there and back would be an 8 mile round trip.
There are no islands on Bassenthwaite so you will need to have land marks on the lake shore. You will be just over ½ way there when you see St Bega church on your left lake shore.
Across the Width
Again my entry point is Scarness Bay. I don’t like walking over the stones so the launch here provides my favourite entry point.
At its widest the lake is 0.8 Miles, this is one of the widest points so there and back would be 1.6 miles. With no land marks its pretty much an out and back swim. There is a buoy about ½ way across that’s used by the sailing club, but besides this just follow your nose across the lake.