It had been eight months since I was in the water and was ecstatic when David suggested a day out on the recent bank holiday. ‘Yes please’! I said. I was desperate for an adventure and feeling very stuck in a rut due to Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions. I never thought I would leave the city again!
David and I quickly slipped back into adventure mode. We got up at 6am, a beautiful day was already awaiting us. We drove two hours to Snowdonia, Wales. I was fearful that we wouldn’t get parking as I assumed (and rightly so) that lots of people would flock towards Wales due to the holiday and the lovely weather. Thankfully, all went to plan. It was like the days of old when David and I headed, carefree to the countryside to swim, walk or explore.
I had already decided, weeks in advance where I wanted my first wild swim of 2021 to be. Last March, before lockdown One, David and I had taken a similar trip to Snowdonia in the hope of starting off my wild swim season of 2020, however on the day the weather was against me and I had to make do with sightseeing and photographing these beauty spots.
I’d first visited the shores of Llyn Gwynant in 2016 and since then I had been eager to swim there. It’s taken me almost five years for that wish to become a reality.
I must admit I had butterflies in my tummy on pulling up alongside the llyn. I hadn’t swam in such a long time and worried I wouldn’t be able to cope with the temperatures or the audience. Thankfully, I clenched my teeth and said, ‘let’s do this!’ I wished in 2020 that I had taken the opportunity to swim in this beautiful place before travel to Wales was restricted, I wasn’t going to let it slip through my fingers again. With the mournful call of a cuckoo singing from the hills, David and I sauntered towards the shoreline where two tents had been put up illegally. I wasn’t going to let them deter me, so I quickly made camp and got my swim paraphernalia ready.
The entrance to the llyn was relatively easy, no clambering over rocks thankfully. I just waded in slowly, getting used to the cool waters. I was waist deep in water when I decided to push out and commit to the swim. I was in the water for around 15 minutes. I couldn’t tell the temperature as Terence my thermometer broke in 2019 and the replacement I ordered never arrived. 😦 I surmised around 14 degrees. The water was crystal clear and little minnows jumped for joy in the shallows. I would have jumped for joy too if there wasn’t so many tourists around! I swam about, admiring the elephant rock where intrepid divers jump from. I didn’t stray too far from the shore as I was out of practice and fitness. I enjoyed my time at Llyn Gwynant and so glad I managed to get to swim there, eventually!
Llyn Padarn was another llyn I had visited several times over the years and had not been able to capitalise upon. However the swim at Padarn was a very different experience to that of Gwynant.
A campaign was launched a few years ago by the Outdoor Swimming Society to remind swimmers to ‘spread the word not the weed.’ Swimmers were asked to be diligent in the cleaning of their equipment and clothes when going on swims, as small pieces of vegetation could hitch a ride into more cleaner waters and contaminate them. One such weed, New Zealand pygmyweed has been a scourge in the Lake District. This non native, invasive plant outgrows native aquatic plants and also depletes the oxygen levels in the water causing wildlife to die. The advice regarding #spreadthewordnottheweed is that if you are planning to do more than one swim, then to swim in the order of cleanest waters first and to make sure that all equipment is washed and dried for the next swim. These simple measures can help in the control of the spread of invasive organisms.
With this in mind we headed towards Llyn Padarn which at 11am on a sunny bank holiday was already teaming with holidaymakers and day trippers. I had never seen so many people enjoying the water. There were swimmers, paddle-boarders and canoeists. With the same determined mindset as Gwynant we headed towards the pier and waited for a quiet moment to enter the water. While I got prepared and dressed into a new swimsuit, David took pictures of cute cygnets.
The swim at Padarn reminded me of Coniston. It wasn’t the most enjoyable swim and when I noticed the murky, brown hue of the water I knew this was dirtier than Gwynant. Indeed the water had a very discernible pond aroma. Not very pleasant to tell the truth. I swam about for another 15 minutes but I was glad when I managed to scramble out from the pier. I was able to tick this llyn off my Snowdonia wild swim map but I doubt I’ll be returning.
It may have seemed that the day ended on a down but in reality I was buoyant with being back in the water after such a long time. I hope that it won’t be too long before I am in the water again – and until then…
Since we are still in the grasp of a third lockdown and I am far from the Lakes, I have been musing on making a top 10 video of my favourite wild swims. It’s taken me a while to finish the video, and it has gone through a few revisions since its inception, but here it is!
I thought I would write a little paragraph about each swim and why it made it into my top 10!
10. Blea Water
Blea Water, the deepest tarn in the Lake District, at 63 metres deep, had to make an appearance in this list due to the quality of the swim. It takes just about an hours walk to the shore from the Mardale Head car park, Haweswater. There is only a small beach area in which to access the water but the peacefulness of the area is astounding. Blea Water is on the route towards High Street and is a perfect stopping place to rest and recharge.
9. Llyn Dinas
Llyn Dinas is another llyn that could very well be further up the list. Though not our first choice for a swim on a very hot August day, it quickly dispelled any disappointment with the quietude of the surroundings and the 20° waters! It was another body of water I’d swam in with lots of tiny minnows in the shallows.
8. Loch Lomond
My first Scottish wild swim! I’d planned a short break to the Scottish Highlands in 2018, with wild swimming at the core of the itinerary. The weather wasn’t kind to us, deciding to unleash a tropical storm our way, but Loch Lomond was the least wild of the swims and was a joy. With easy access from the A82, the beach I entered the loch was lovely and soft with an easy incline into the water. I would definitely recommend a visit if you are in the area.
One of my loves in the Lake District. Derwentater was the first lake I swam, and I have been back several times over the years. The footage in the video is from my second swim at Derwentwater, when at 9am, it was just David and I and a cool sun rising. It’s a beautiful lake to visit for a walk or swim and we will probably revisit again in the future.
6. Loch Etive
One of the best swims during a brief holiday to the Scottish Highlands. Loch Etive is a sea loch and was shrouded in low lying mist on a drizzly morning the day we visited. We hadn’t been favoured with good weather but the mist and rain added to the atmosphere of this beautiful loch.
5. Llyn Idwal
Idwal was the llyn where all this wild swimming malarkey began in 2016. On that cold winters day I stood at the shoreline and wondered what it would be like to swim there. Fast forward three years and I visited Llyn Idwal again in 2019 with a swim buddy in tow to finally swim in its mythical waters. It was a fun swim and the llyn is very popular with day trippers due to its accessibility.
4. Alcock Tarn
I have many happy memories of our visit to Alcock Tarn, that is almost made it into the top three! Two friendly ducks and a beautiful early autumn day made this swim so memorable. Nestled in beautiful, peaceful scenery above Grasmere, Alcock Tarn was one of those perfect swims. I’d definitely recommend a visit for swimmers and walkers alike.
3. Rydal Water
Rydal Water is a lake I want to return to so desperately. It may be one of the smaller lakes of the Lake District but its atmospheric charm and quaintness makes it so unique. This was the only lake where I shared the water with swans, (at a distance of course) and have visited several times with Riley. Not far from a car park and with a wonderful walk into the fells or around Grasmere, it’s a place I would definitely recommend to other swimmers and walkers.
Buttermere has always been a lake close to my heart, and it was a tough decision to put this in second place. My final swim of 2020 was at Buttermere, and it was a spectacular day! The sun was out and for an early October it was pleasantly warm. There was no wind, creating a mirror sheen on the lake that reflected the rugged mountain tops. The water was silky smooth, and the view from the water was breathtaking. It will be a swim I won’t forget in a hurry!
Of my many swims, the beauty of Glaslyn has been unparalleled. On first sight, Glaslyn took my breath away. There was the imposing peak of Snowdon mirrored in water so turquoise I’d never seen anything like it! To have this beautiful llyn all to myself while I swam in its soft waters was pure joy. All other walkers seemed to prefer the Pyg Track to the Miners that day and David and I enjoyed the peaceful tranquility.
Do you agree with my selection? What is your favourite swim of mine, or indeed your own? Let me know in the comments below.
As the dark nights begin to draw in, it looks like David and I are aiming for a film watched per night, or so October’s count is suggesting! We don’t watch TV, so for entertainment we rely heavily on playing PlayStation games, watching films and endless streams on YouTube. Our go to channels are Harald Baldr and Simon Wilson, who both document their trips abroad. I think we are dreaming of holidays taken away from us by Covid restrictions!
Rocky 4 ✩✩✩✩
Rocky trains his friend Apollo Creed in a match against Drago, an indestructible Russian boxer. But when Apollo is killed in the ring during the match, Rocky vows to avenge his friend’s death.
I surprisingly enjoyed this offering from Sylvester Stallone. It had everything, comedy, friendship, love and loss and with a banging 80’s soundtrack, there’s not much to not like about this film.
The Social Network ✩✩✩
As Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg creates the social networking site that would become known as Facebook, he is sued by the twins who claimed he stole their idea, and by the co-founder who was later squeezed out of the business.
I wouldn’t say this was a particularly exciting movie, but it’s worth a watch.
David, a businessman, passes by an old tanker truck in a dessert while travelling for a meeting. The driver of the truck is a psychopath who finds David’s overtaking offensive and decides to kill him.
This was Steven Spielberg’s directorial debut and surprisingly it wasn’t too bad, brings road rage to another new level!
The Thing ✩✩✩
A research team in Antarctica is hunted by a shape-shifting alien that assumes the appearance of its victims.
Kurt Russell is the no-nonsense talking hero in this John Carpenter film. It’s not aged well but the tension is all there and the puppetry for the mutating alien is good for it’s time.
They Live ✩✩
A drifter discovers a pair of sunglasses that allow him to wake up to the fact that aliens have taken over the Earth.
Staying with the theme of John Carpenter films is They Live starring wrestler ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Pipper. A bit of a slow burn but not a bad watch.
Monsters Inc ✩✩✩✩
In Monstropolis, best friends Sulley and Mike are the top scarers working at the Monsters, Inc. However, their lives are hugely disrupted when a human girl enters their world.
I love this movie! It has the right amount of comedy, threat and emotion and Sully’s relationship with Boo is heart-warming. I definitely had a tear in my eye at the end.
Sam and Molly love each other, but their romance is short-lived when Sam is killed by a thug. Unable to tell Molly that her life is in danger, Sam’s spirit takes a psychic’s help in order to save her.
Another film that is bound to get the tears flowing. A brilliant thriller with an even better soundtrack.
An alien is left behind on Earth and is saved by young Elliot who decides to keep him hidden. While the task force hunts for it, Elliot and his siblings form an emotional bond with their new friend.
E.T. was the first movie I saw at the cinema. I remember going to see it with my dad. I was five and came home with a crush on Elliott (Henry Thomas) and a sticker book!
Toy Soldiers ✩✩✩
Terrorists, seeking the release of a South American drug baron, take schoolchildren as hostages. However, the captives fight back.
Before watching this film, I thought it was Small Soldiers of 1998 but this stars Sean Austin and is centered around a boys school overrun with terrorists. It was worth a watch.
Dog Soldiers ✩✩✩✩
During a routine training mission in the Scottish Highlands, a small squad of British soldiers expected to rendezvous with a special ops unit, instead find a bloody massacre with a sole survivor. The men are rescued by a zoologist who identifies what hunts them as werewolves. Without transport or communications, the group is forced to retreat to a farmhouse to wait for the full moon to disappear at dawn.
In my opinion, Dog Soldiers is one of the best werewolf films ever made. The cast are brilliant, and there’s enough mystery, threat and violence to keep you entertained. The make-up and werewolf design is on point.
The Birds ✩✩
Melanie, a rich socialite, follows Mitch, a lawyer, to his home in Bodega Bay to play a practical joke on him. Things take a bizarre turn when the birds in the area begin to attack the people there.
I think Hitchcock films are a product of its time, as I found The Birds, rather disappointing and boring. Yes, there is a lot of tension and build up in the first hour, but was I terrified? Not likely!
Josh and Renai move to a new house, seeking a fresh start. However, when their son, Dalton, mysteriously falls into a coma, paranormal events start occurring in the house.
I think Insidious is only scary on the first watch. by the second I wasn’t terrified at all and expected half of the thrills before they appeared. Still a decent scary movie though.
Dead End ✩✩✩
Christmas Eve. On his way to his in-laws with his family, Frank Harrington decides to try a shortcut, for the first time in 20 years. It turns out to be the biggest mistake of his life.
I thought this wasn’t a bad film. I sort of guessed the end but it didn’t detract from the shocks and laughs the drama on screen produced. I’d give it a watch just for the gore!
The Others ✩✩
Grace moves into a new house with her two photosensitive children in Jersey. When a series of inexplicable events occur, Grace starts believing that her house is haunted.
I found this movie rather pedestrian in its execution and the thrills and scary moments were few and far between. More psychological than a horror.
On New Year’s Eve, a giant wave crashes into Poseidon, a luxurious cruise liner, and flips it upside down. As the ship begins to sink, the passengers struggle to find a way to survive.
A film I’d seen before but enjoyed watching it a second time round. There were lots of action sequences and tension to keep me enthralled until the credits.
The Fog ✩✩✩✩
Folks get ready to celebrate the centenary of Antonio Bay. But, many had suffered due to crimes that founded this town. Now, they rise from the sea, under the cover of the fog, to claim retribution.
I never get tired of watching this spooky movie. One of John Carpenters’ better films. The story telling is at it’s finest. Though 40 years old, and looking a little dated, The Fog is one of the best ghost stories of all time!
Carry on Cleo ✩✩
After being trounced in Europe, Caesar dispatches Antony to forge an alliance with Ptolemy, who is squabbling with Cleopatra for the Egyptian throne, but the plan goes awry as Antony is captivated by Cleopatra’s asp, and together they plot Caesar’s downfall.
A watchable film but the jokes were very dated and I don’t think the youth of today would get it!
The Conjuring ✩✩✩
The Perron family moves into a farmhouse where they experience paranormal phenomena. They consult demonologists, Ed and Lorraine Warren, to help them get rid of the evil entity haunting them.
I hadn’t watched this movie before. I enjoyed the storytelling and the thrills and liked the cast. Would recommend a watch.
The Witches of Eastwick ✩✩
Three single women in a village have their wishes granted at a cost, when a mysterious and flamboyant man arrives in their lives, to satisfy all their desires. Will good triumph over evil?
Oh dear, this film was awful! I think giving it two stars was generous. I’m not a big fan of Jack Nicholson, his portrayal of Satan just made my skin crawl!
Hocus Pocus ✩✩✩
Three witches resurrect after 300 years to exact revenge and begin a reign of terror after Max, a young boy who moves to Salem with his family, lights a cursed Candle of Black Flame.
An all round fun, family movie. Almost 30 years old but it’s still as good now as it was back then.
Practical Magic ✩✩✩
After the death of their parents, Sally and Gillian Owens move in with their aunts, Jet and Frances. The two sisters have nothing in common except their hereditary gift for practical magic.
This film started off well, a family of witches with a curse on its men but by the end it had gone all soppy and romantic. Watchable.
The Witch ✩
In the New England of the 17th century, a banished Puritan family sets up a farm by the edge of a huge, remote forest, where no other family lives. But sinister forces then start haunting them.
I watched this when I wasn’t feeling well one day and David was busy working. I’m glad I didn’t subject David to this drivel. It is an account of how religious paranoia and hysteria can result in terrible events happening to a family in the 1600’s. I could see where the director was trying to go with this film it just fell short for me.
The Witches (2020) ✩✩
In late 1967, a young orphaned boy goes to live with his grandma in the rural Alabama town of Demopolis. As the boy and his grandmother encounter some deceptively glamorous but thoroughly diabolical witches, she wisely whisks him away to a seaside resort. Regrettably, they arrive at precisely the same time that the world’s Grand High Witch has gathered her fellow cronies from around the globe — under cover — to carry out her nefarious plans.
Oh dear. Why did they have to do a remake of an already good film? I like Anne Hathaway but in this retelling of Roald Dahl’s classic The Witches, she was no Anjelica Huston. The film relied too much on CGI at the cost of the story. I wanted to like it but sadly couldn’t.
Escape From Alcatraz ✩✩✩
Alcatraz is the most secure prison of its time. It is believed that no one can ever escape from it, until three daring men make a possible successful attempt at escaping from one of the most infamous prisons in the world.
Clint Eastwood is his enigmatic self in this tense prison escape, based on a true story.
RL Stine, the author of ‘Goosebumps’, is shocked when demons from his books come to life and spread havoc in Delaware. He, along with his daughter and her friend, tries to get them back in the books.
A good family film with lots of comedy, thrills and action. I would recommend a watch if not seen before.
The Blob ✩✩
The Blob, a slimy substance made as a part of a chemical experiment during the Cold War, spreads havoc in the city of Arborville, California, and disfigures the people who come in contact with it.
Not the Steve McQueen version but a comical 1980’s remake. Best to watch for the cheesiness.
The Conjuring 2 ✩✩✩
Peggy, a single mother of four children, seeks the help of occult investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren when she and her children witness strange, paranormal events in their house.
A strong sequel and a good retelling of the Enfield poltergeist. One of my favourite scary movies. I am liking the direction these films are taking.
What’s your favourite scary movie?
Have you seen any films recently that you have enjoyed or disliked? Any recommendations?
I live in a region of England that has been put under stricter Covid-19 restrictions, meaning that only travel from the region is for work and not recreation.
Thankfully, on Tuesday David had a day off work and we managed to escape to The Lake District for a day out. We brought our gentle giant of a border collie, Riley along with us.
The day started before the sunrise. We drove for 2.5 hours up the M6, taking a stop at Lancaster services for a comfort break. The destination of the day was Buttermere. As we drove past the neighbouring lake Crummock Water, David stopped at a lay-by. The surface of the water was so still it was like a mirror. We got out of the car and headed towards the peaceful, quiet shores of Crummock Water. David got Buzz, his drone out and I ran around with Riley.
The village of Buttermere is much busier. The National Trust car park fills up quickly but luckily there were still a few parking spaces left on our arrival. We paid £6 for four hours, you could pay with coins or by card. We donned our walking boots and rucksacks before taking the short walk towards the lake.
Like Crummock, the water of Buttermere was perfectly still. In all my visits to the lake I’ve never seen it so calm. The sun had burned off the remaining mist and a warm day was ahead of us. It was a very surprising day weather wise. I’d planned on it being a cool autumnal day but in reality there was no wind, the sun was warm and it felt like another last gasp from summer. It was a perfect day!
Following many other people, we took the northern path which passes the lone tree and has wonderful views of Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks. We made camp (Camp Riley) at a wide pebbly beach. Before we had lunch, I was going to have a swim, with the hope that Riley would come into the water with me. However the shore sloped steeply into the water and Riley was a little tentative. Not wanting to frighten him, I left him on the shore with David, who had taken Buzz into the air once again, to the amusement of passers-by.
The water was glorious! It wasn’t as cold as I’d expected. Indeed I’d swam in Buttermere previously when the water was much colder! You can read that post, here. I swam for about 15 minutes, but I could have stayed in for longer. It was so lovely. However Riley was getting stressed that he couldn’t reach one of his humans, so I waded out so he could run me around the shoreline in my swimsuit. The sun was so warm I didn’t even get cold nor have difficulty getting dressed, which is a novelty.
Once we had picnicked, we packed up and headed slowly back to the car. It had been a beautiful day. Riley seemed to have enjoyed himself and I’d got a swim in one of my favourite lakes. It’s a day I shall remember and smile at for a very long time.
We’ve just come back from a short weekend break to the Lake District for David’s birthday. It was a mixed bag of experiences over the course of three days, here’s what we got up to.
Realisation dawned on me that the Lakes at present are swollen with people who would normally vacate abroad but due to Covid restrictions are staying closer to home. I’d planned on a few wild swims during our stay-cation and chose areas of Lakeland which were a bit less popular. Our destination for the day was Tewet Tarn which boasted wondrous views of Blencathra and Skiddaw.
All through the wet journey north I had worried about parking as Tewet Tarn is situated between Castlerigg and St John’s in the Vale, with limited off road parking. Our wonderful hosts Phil and Helen from Hermiston Guest House in Braithwaite, sent us a detailed map of accessible parking which we found with relative ease.
The walk to Tewet Tarn took 10 minutes from roadside parking. On arrival we discovered there was little in the way of good access points into the water. We tried to walk around the tarn but the land soon became marshy. We back tracked and made camp on a small section of shore. The swim in Tewet Tarn set the tone for the rest of the weekend. The tarn was shallow and murky. It wasn’t a pleasant swim but at least I can add the tarn to my swim map.
Tewet Tarn Swim
We were not at Tewet Tarn long, about an hour I’d say. With still two hours before check-in we looked for somewhere else to spend the time. At first we were going to head into a busy Keswick and look for new walking boots as mine are split, but in a change of heart, we headed towards a Wildlife Trusts’ nature reserve Eycott Hill near Berrier. We spent a leisurely hour walking the path past wildflower meadows and mossy wetlands towards Eycott Hill viewpoint. Bird life was quiet but we did see some butterflies.
A note on our guest house and Covid-19 safety guidelines: our hosts were very informative as to what changes had been made. On arrival guests could wear face masks and were informed of the hygiene procedures. On entrance guests were asked to use gel to clean their hands. There was also gel to be used before entering the breakfast room of a morning where staggered breakfast times had been implemented. There was also a one way system for guests leaving during breakfast times to adhere to social distancing rules. We felt safe during our stay and guests respected each other.
Rosthwaite Round Walk
Day Two: The day started with promise, we drove the 20 minutes to Rosthwaite and paid £7.50 for all day parking in the National Trust car park there. Our destination was Dock Tarn via Watendlath. I had hoped to have found a walk similar to Alcock Tarn in Grasmere, however the walk from Rosthwaite to Watendlath took us one and a half hours with another hours walk to Dock Tarn. Sunshine and showers dogged us all through our walk. The path towards Dock Tarn was treacherous under foot, with slippery, mud chocked stones. During the hours walk I slipped about four times, once landing painfully on my hip. I sat and cried, through shock more than anything. It wasn’t a great day!
By the time we got to the tarn we were soaked in mud, sweat and tears!
Much like Tewet Tarn there wasn’t good access to the water. There was only one small beach not big enough to put my picnic blanket down, so I got changed standing up, which was a balancing act! Dock Tarn looked picturesque covered in water lilies but there wasn’t much water that wasn’t covered in lilies or reeds. Sadly, once again the swim was disappointing. The tarn was shallow and swimming through lilies and reeds made me feel queasy. Their stems wrapped around Wilson (underwater camera), that I have attached to my torso, which stopped me swimming. It was pretty scary actually. Luckily I was just floating over the silty bed so I could stand and get out of the water pretty easily. It wasn’t a pleasant swim so I cut it short after 10 minutes. The whole swim/walk seemed a wasted day and I hardly took any photos of my swim.
Dock Tarn Swim
We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then decided to complete the whole walk and continued en route down through an ancient oak forest called Lingy End, gingerly slipping over a steep pitched path which took another two hours to traverse. When we did eventually get back to the car the showers stopped and the sun came out. Dock Tarn isn’t a swim I would suggest to other wild swimmers.
Blea Water Walk
I wasn’t sure we would get parking at Mardale Head car park, Haweswater as we left the guest house after 9am. The journey from Braithwaite is about an hour, along narrow, hair-raising roads. We got to the car park at 10am and luckily there were a few parking spaces left. We hiked our heavy rucksacks up a path for a further hour towards our destination for the day, Blea Water.
Blea Water is the Lake District’s deepest tarn at 63 metres. It is a glacial corrie, and was also known as Bley Water from Old Norse meaning dark blue. The path to Blea Water at first wasn’t too bad but as the path disappeared into marshy sphagnum our already wet boots were soaked in mud again. The walk wasn’t as bad as the previous days struggle to Dock Tarn and we got to the steep sides of Blea Water with no drama. There is little in the way of shore-line at Blea Water but by the dammed east end, we found a little shingle beach where we could set up camp and I could access the water from.
Blea Water Swim
Blea Water was the best swim of the weekend! I actually got in a decent 20+ minute swim, in water that wasn’t too cold. I enjoyed floating on my back while looking up at the ridge line. Even David managed to give Buzz, our new drone a little stretch of his blades. Though our camp wasn’t far from the path we were not bothered by walkers. Overall it was a positive swim and I am glad we took the walk there.
So there you have our exploits over the past weekend. Video of swims to follow.
Have you been to any of the tarns mentioned above? What is your favourite body of water?
After a tremendous swim in Glaslyn, I had hoped to extend my wild swimming season by a month or so. Unfortunately I never made it into the water before Christmas, however much I had wanted too. Then I’d planned on a New Year swim at Coniston but with no planned walk for the day my hopes fizzled away like a firework. Though 2020 has been really slow to start (even slower than 2019!) my mind is already dreaming of the year ahead and I am looking forward to many wild swim/walks this year.
I’ve already booked a four nights break for my birthday, at a loch-side cabin in Scotland’s Trossachs National Park. With 22 loch’s I am spoiled for choice! Just looking at the variety of lochs, such as Katrine, Venachar and Lubnaig, I’m already getting super excited!
Loch Katrine (Google Image)
Loch Venachar (Google Image)
Loch Lubnaig (Google Image)
For my first swim this season I am hoping to tick off the Eskdale Blea Tarn! I’ve already swam the other two! Langdale, and Watendlath. I’ve read blogs and seen pictures of the Eskdale Blea Tarn and I am eager to get back into the water. It’s just a matter of logistics with car parking.
Blea Tarn Eskdale (Google Image)
Though I’ve always wanted to swim in Grisedale Tarn, perhaps it’s height position may deter me?
Grisedale Tarn (Google Image)
The resting place of the crown of Cumbria may have to wait. However this year I do intend to swim in Helvellyn’s Red Tarn and Blea Water of Haweswater fame. I think both these tarns are achievable.
Red Tarn (Google Image)
Blea Water (Google Image)
Again Coniston is the only ‘large’ lake I’ve not swam in and the Old Man of Coniston has many swimmable waters, e.g. levers and goat’s. I’ll aim for these this year.
Hopefully we’ll be able to bring Riley with us again on our Lake District adventures and introduce him to swimming in Ullswater!
In Snowdonia, I hope to tick off Llyn Padarn and Gwynant.
They seem the two easiest of the llyns I have my eye on! Llyn Ffynnon-y-gwas and Llyn Du’r Arddu of Snowdon fame may be a bit of a hike.
Llyn Ffynnon-y-gwas (Google Image)
Llyn Du’r Arddu (Google image)
However, Llyn Nantlle and Llyn Cwm Silyn Uchaf, again will have issues with logistics. If you know of places to park and walking routes, do let me know.
llyn cwm silyn uchaf by Mud and routes
So there you have a brief glimpse into my mind for the wild swim year ahead. If you have any swim suggestions, do let me know.
For my birthday, at the end of October, I’d planned a few days away to Snowdonia. The main aim was to trek The Miners’ Track and swim in the tarns along the way. We attempted this route in 2018 but on arrival at 8am on a blazing summer’s morning, the car park at Pen y Pass was already full. This was a fear of mine come the morning of my second attempt.
We woke-up groggy at 6am, from our base, Plas y Coed, the car park at Pen y Pass was only 30 minutes away. The tremulous call of a tawny owl echoed from the surrounding woodland as we loaded the car for a pre-dawn drive.
The roads towards Snowdon were quiet as you would expect on a chilly October morning. We arrived at Pen y Pass car park which was half full at 7am and paid the £10 charge. I was silently celebrating that we had secured parking in a very tourist heavy area. Donning our swollen rucksacks and I, carrying my bulky Dryrobe® we embarked on an hour+ walk towards Glaslyn.
Christine at Llyn Llydaw
Path towards Glaslyn
On our walk we passed llyns Teyrn and Llydaw, and my excitement grew with each step. The morning sky glowed, the mountains looked desolate and the path, though easy to begin with, grew steep after passing Llydaw. I was amazed that we didn’t see a living soul as we made our way towards Glaslyn.
I’d put up quite a sweat by the time we arrived at the shores of Glaslyn. Seeing the mirror sheen of the llyn and a moody, cloud shrouded Snowdon made me so enthusiastic to get into the water.
In planning the swims, in my mind I had made the cold of the water more than it actually was, though I did lose feeling in my fingers and toes. I had come prepared. I had my swimsuit jacket as an extra layer against the cold but I did manage a 10 minute swim.
Glaslyn was a wonderful swim! I’d have to say probably my favourite to date. I’d imagined I would have swam with an amazed audience of walkers but on the day, around 9am (which is always the best time for a swim), there was no one about. Just David, Glaslyn and me! Other walkers seemed to favour the Pyg track than the Miners.
Glaslyn, means blue lake in Welsh and I have to say it was very blue even on a cloudy day. Nesting 600m above sea level, it’s supposed to be the resting place of Excalibur. Glaslyn is also where the afanc (we met this mythological beast at Llyn Cau) was finally defeated.
We jumped across an outflow stream and found a secluded shingle beach. From here I quickly stripped to a new tankini (one of three I’d bought that week) and wriggled into my swimsuit jacket. Wearing my neoprene gloves, hat and boots I eagerly waded into the silky, cold waters of this glacial corrie. I would have loved to have swam for longer but 10 minutes in below 10° waters was enough for me. Whilst swimming, the clouds lifted and I saw Snowdon tower impressively above.
Buzzing with adrenaline I waded back onto shore and struggled to get dressed. Even David had to tie my boot laces! I was hoping to have a bite to eat at the shore but the weather turned and rain began to fall. Dressed in the warm folds of my Dryrobe® we ventured back down the path towards Llyn Llydaw. The walk thankfully warmed me up.
By the time we got to the wide shingle beach of Llyn Llydaw the path was swollen with walkers from every walk of life. Despite this and the heavy rain I ventured on a second swim. Llyn Llydaw is another resting place for Excalibur. However all I saw was rain drops splashing from the waters surface and swathes of grey clouds drift in. I spent another 10 minutes in the chilly water, though the temperature didn’t seem as cold as Glaslyn. Perhaps I was still cold from my first swim? The main factor in my enjoyment of this swim was the rain and worrying about David on shore.
As I waded back on land a police helicopter flew overhead as it practiced manoeuvers. Trying to get dry and warm whilst the rain falls is a little more difficult. However I was entertained by two young men who had been inspired by my swimming escapades and had pulled off their shoes and socks and paddled in the shallows. Gasps and ohhs and ahhs followed. I couldn’t help but smile at their attempt.
Thankfully Llyn Llydaw is a 30 minute walk from the car park so after getting relatively dry we headed back to the car park for a well earned lunch. Though a little disheartened, I decided that Llyn Teyrn could wait for another day as there was no defined path and the way was steep and boggy. I’d been wet and cold enough times that day!
Have you walked The Miner’s Track? Which llyn would you have liked to swim in?
It’s taken me a while to write this blog. Feeling under the weather and a bit blue with all this rain and dreary weather we have been having this November has really knocked my inspiration.
This year, for my birthday I booked two nights away to a gorgeous renovated mansion house, Plas Y Coed, part of the Penrhyn estate.
My plans were for a few days of wild swimming in gorgeous Snowdonia. I had plumbed for Llyn Geirionydd to be my birthday swim of 2019. On the day we drove the two hours from Liverpool towards the llyn, on narrow tracks through the Gwydir Forest. We arrived at free parking and toilets. The car park wasn’t easy to find!
Between 1850 and 1919 Llyn Geirionydd was part of a lead and zinc mining area. Reputedly the home of 6th century poet Taliesin, the llyn now has been restored for modern day visitors to enjoy.
After having lunch, we donned our heavy rucksacks, (you can’t believe the amount of equipment I have to bring for a swim!) and headed towards the llyn-side. Llyn Geirionydd wasn’t as picturesque as I had hoped but I experienced a wonderful walk around the llyn, met many curious onlookers and enjoyed a chilling swim.
Wild swimming at llyn geirionydd
Christine at llyn geirionydd
The swim itself was much colder than I had expected. The temperature of the water really made me gasp! I’d prepared myself for future (high altitude swims) but not this one. Over the few days away in Snowdonia, Llyn Geirionydd was the swim that made me complain the most! :p
Plas Y Coed, after falling into disrepair has been given a new lease of life following extensive renovations. This grade II listed building was built between 1863 and 1878. Originally built for the home of the Penrhyn estate manager, Captain Pennant Lloyd. It has now been developed into 12 apartments. We booked a cosy and warm one bedroom apartment through airbnb.
Have you holidayed in Snowdonia? Where did you stay?
This June I’d organised a few nights away to the Lake District, however I had to cancel due to David being floored by a virus. Thankfully we managed to book again for September. David and I had three days of fun filled adventure.
Gummer’s How is just a short walk from the (free) Forestry Commission car park, two miles drive from Newby Bridge. We spent a leisurely hour walking the path, (steep at times) and admired the views of Windermere and surrounding fells from the 321m summit. Though the weather was overcast it remained dry and mild.
Gummer’s How sign
From Gummer’s How we continued on our journey along the A592 which hugs the eastern shores of Windermere. Our destination was Rayrigg Meadow car park. Surprisingly I hadn’t swam in Windermere, partly due to it being too commercial and touristy. This I wanted to address, so we parked the car and carting my bulky Dryrobe®, we took a five minute walk to the shore.
Windermere is a busy lake, much busier than the small lakes and tarns I am used too swimming. Whilst in the water with the shrouded Langdale Pikes in the distance, I was weary of speeding boats and leisurely cruisers. I kept close to the shore and watched as the boats drifted by. Due to this activity the water was choppy and I was buffeted by the wake the boats caused. That aside I enjoyed my 20 minutes in Windermere. The water temperature was around 10° but once out of the water I was kept toasty by my Dryrobe®.
Have you visited Windermere? Been on one of the cruises?
Apparently Alfred Wainwright was rather disparaging of Alcock Tarn, nestled below Butter Crag east of Grasmere. Personally I enjoyed my swim in this peaceful small tarn. The views from Grey Crag were a bonus!
Sign to Alcock Tarn
We managed to find a lay-by with free parking alongside the A591, and took the path behind the Swan Hotel, following signs for Alcock Tarn. The walk, though steep in parts was very picturesque. We followed a babbling Greenhead Ghyll and had luscious views of Helm Crag and Grasmere as we quickly gained height. The whole walk was beautiful, possibly attributed to the blissful weather we were lucky to have. The whole walk was a positive experience for me.
It took about an hour to get to the shores of Alcock Tarn, previously called Butter Crag Tarn. In the 1800’s Mr Alcock of Grasmere had enlarged the tarn to stock with trout! There were lots of minnows in the shallows when we set up camp.
Our arrival was welcomed by two female mallards who quickly made a beeline for us. Both came onto land and one, searching for food pecked at my toes as I got undressed. The ducks were so cute, one even sat next to David whilst I took to the waters.
Alcock Tarn female mallards
Swimming at Alcock Tarn
The swim itself was divine. I entered the water when there was no other walkers about and had the tarn to myself, David and the two ducks. I thoroughly enjoyed the 8° waters and wish I could have stayed in longer. The wind was not as cutting as it was at Scales Tarn, Blencathra. Even though I swam through reeds they were manageable. Pipits called from the hills and peacefulness pervaded. I was in the water for about 15 minutes before I started to feel cold.
We picnicked on shore, sharing our lunch with the ducks while I warmed up. I could have stayed there all day.
David wanted to explore the area and so we ended up walking towards Grey Crag overlooking a resplendent Grasmere with Windermere glistening in the distance. I was drunk on the colour green! The whole countryside looked vibrant in the noontime sunshine.
Sadly it was time we retraced our steps back towards the car. The whole day was wonderful. It was the best swim/walk of the weekend. Perhaps this was due to having no expectations?
Have you visited Alcock Tarn? What are your favourite walks around Grasmere?