Wild Swimming with Christine – My Top 10

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.

7. Derwentwater

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.

2. Buttermere

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!

1. Glaslyn

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.

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

A Year in Film: December 2020

The final post in my Year in Film series. I’m not sure whether to continue into 2021. What do you think? Should I continue reviewing films on here or find another challenge? Let me know your thoughts below.

Even though I blogged daily for 24 days with my Christmas film advent calendar, David and I still had time to watch a further 16 films. Here’s what I thought about what I watched.

Christmas with the Kranks ✩✩✩

The Kranks scandalise everyone when they declare that they won’t be celebrating Christmas. But, when their daughter decides to visit home, they get off on a mad rush to organise a spanking Christmas.

David’s hairdresser suggested this Christmas film to us. So on a quiet weekday we snuggled up and gave it a watch. I enjoyed it more than David but it got us in a more festive mood.

Oceans 13 ✩✩✩

Danny and his gang of thieves have to pull off their most risky heist to defend one of their own. However, they are going to need more than luck to break the ruthless Willy and his casino.

A sequel to Oceans 12 but with a more star studded cast. Was an enjoyable heist and less confusing than the first movie.

Honest Thief ✩✩✩

Hoping to cut a deal, a professional bank robber agrees to return all the money he stole in exchange for a reduced sentence. But when two FBI agents set him up for murder, he must now go on the run to clear his name and bring them to justice.

Liam Neeson is back terrorising criminals in this revenge movie. Watchable.

Four Christmases ✩✩

Lovers Brad and Kate plan to go on a vacation to Fiji to spend the holidays. However, when their vacation plan is foiled, they are forced to visit all four of their divorced parents for Christmas.

David and I saw this film when it was released in 2008, when we where holidaying in Louth, Lincolnshire. I recall there being an interval and the cinema selling ice creams. The film was less memorable.

Ant-man ✩✩✩

Armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

A watchable super-hero film. We only tuned in because Cinema Therapy on YouTube reviewed the movie. If you’ve not seen their channel, give them a go. They review films from the standpoint of a film maker and a therapist, look out for lots of emotion.

Zootopia ✩✩✩

When Judy Hopps, a rookie officer in the Zootopia Police Department, sniffs out a sinister plot, she enlists the help of a con artist to solve the case in order to prove her abilities to Chief Bogo.

Another Cinema Therapy review, this time with the implicit bias that is in Zootopia. I hadn’t heard of this movie before, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Carry on Camping ✩✩✩

A pair of likely lads trick their girlfriends into accompanying them to a nudist colony, but it turns out to be a family campsite. After they are persuaded to stay, the boys manage to find more mischief to occupy themselves when a coachload of teenage schoolgirls arrives at the site.

David suggested this film, I think it was in response to the passing of Barbara Windsor whose iconic bra bursting scene is so memorable. It was one of the better Carry On films.

The Great Outdoors ✩

It’s vacation time for an outdoorsy Chicago man and his family. But a serene weekend of fishing at a Wisconsin lakeside cabin gets crashed by his obnoxious brother-in-law.

David said that Kevin Hart was starring in a remake of this 1980’s John Hughes film, so we ended up watching the original. It wasn’t as funny as hoped. Perhaps the remake will be better?

The Holiday ✩✩✩✩

Two girls from different countries swap homes for the holidays to get away from their relationship issues. However, their lives change unexpectedly when they meet and fall in love with two local guys.

At the core of this film is the theme of love, in all it’s guises. I enjoyed the movie more than David and with a funky score by Hans Zimmer, it couldn’t possibly fail to entertain.

Runaway Train ✩✩

Two escaped convicts head full-steam for their freedom and inadvertently jump aboard a freight train. To their dismay, they discover that the train is barreling out of control without an engineer.

This film could have been so much better if the acting was any good, but it wasn’t. Forgettable.

The Switch ✩✩✩

An unmarried woman uses a sperm donor to conceive a child, much to the dismay of her best friend Wally. She remains in the dark for many years unaware that Wally had replaced her sample with his own.

How many films has Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman done together? Maybe five? Either way, you can see the friendship and respect they both have for one another. The Switch may not have been the greatest movie, but it was fun to watch.

Get a Job ✩✩

After college, Will is having problems getting a good, lasting job, as are his roomies, his girlfriend and his just fired dad.

This film irked me somewhat. I like Anna Kendrick but this film didn’t really showcase her talents. Perhaps one to miss?

Wonder Woman 84 ✩✩✩

Rewind to the 1980s as Wonder Woman’s next big screen adventure finds her facing two all-new foes: Max Lord and The Cheetah.

A bit of a confession to make. In the 1980’s I wanted to be Wonder Woman! As a six or seven year old, I watched reruns of Lynda Carter battling criminals! I used to prance about the house in shorts and boob-tube, wearing a paper tiara and bracelets. A skipping rope acted as my lasso of truth. The world stretched as far as my imagination, and I could be anything I chose to be.

Watching the new Wonder Woman films sadly to me are not the same. I preferred the 2017 film to this 2020 release but not by much.

Soul ✩✩

Joe is a middle-school band teacher whose life hasn’t quite gone the way he expected. His true passion is jazz — and he’s good. But when he travels to another realm to help someone find their passion, he soon discovers what it means to have soul.

In the run up to Christmas I saw billboards advertising Soul. I like my Pixar films so managed to get to see the movie. Again, I enjoyed it more than David. I liked the message of the film, life is worth living, even just for the small things!

Circle ✩✩✩

Fifty strangers facing execution have to pick one person among them to live.

My brother suggested this film for us to watch. Circle is a study of human psychology, for better or for worse. I enjoyed the experience and wasn’t really surprised at the finale.

The Platform ✩✩✩

In the future, prisoners housed in vertical cells watch as inmates in the upper cells are fed while those below starve.

Another film my brother suggested. This Spanish sci-fi, subtitled film really made me feel sad for the protagonists. The premise; in this vertical prison, there is enough food for everyone. However the greed of those on the above levels means that the ones further below have less and less to eat. Another film on the human condition. I enjoyed it none the less.

Have you seen any films recently that you have enjoyed or disliked? Any recommendations?

Thanks for reading!

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2019 – Day Nine.

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_09Day 9: I’m returning to my painted lady caterpillars as they embark on the next stage of their metamorphosis.

In the past week, four of the caterpillars made it to the top of the cup and hung down in a J shape. The process from caterpillar to chrysalis only took a day but I left them to harden for three.  One little guy never made it to the top so I scooped him up and left him on the floor of his new habitat.

In two weeks time hopefully all five will emerge from their chrysalides as butterflies!

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

Scotland Wild Swims

Just a quick post today. A big thank you to David who slogged for over a month on a video compilation of my three loch swims. I think he’s done a fab job!

Thanks David!

Christine x

 

Doughnut’s First Swim!

It was the first outing of my orange tow float, and to celebrate this momentous occasion I walked 1.5 hours to Stickle Tarn, in the Langdales (and 1.5 hours back) to test it out!

Dsc_0105

At Stickle Tarn

On a particular down day I decided that my swim kit just wasn’t complete without a tow float. I had read that COWS who swim at Derwentwater had asked swimmers to don a tow float so tourist boaters could see swimmers. For the sake of safety I decided to buy a Lomo tow float with pouch (other brands are available). It was only £19 including postage and arrived not two days after I ordered it. I was very happy with my purchase and was excited to test it out.

So when an impromptu break to the Lake District beckoned, the tow float came with me, along with a brand new Regatta rucksack. All this swim kit needs to be carried and the rucksack I had just wasn’t adequate.

Snapshot 1 (24-06-2018 21-25)

Regatta Rucksack

Our walk started from The National Trust Stickle Ghyll car park off the B5343 (nearest postcode LA22 9JX). David and I, didn’t know how long it would take to walk the route with a swim and picnic, so we paid for all day parking at £7.00. While David calibrated his steady cam I sat and enjoyed the woodland birds visiting the feeders a NT volunteer had put up. I even saw a yellowhammer but was unable to photograph it due to the poor zoom on my S6!

We followed a path from the north end of the car park. Passed a gate which traversed towards Stickle Ghyll and a path that had been stone pitched, that led steeply upwards. There were many plunge pools that looked inviting along the route.

We crossed a bridge which overlooked a hydroelectric scheme, that harnessed the power of the ghyll, from there the path steadily gained height. There were many scrambles which I wasn’t too happy about. However I manged to scale the rocks and overcame the stepping stones across the turbulent ghyll, before we took the final steps towards the tarn.

20180618_121558

Stickle Tarn

The summits of Harrison Stickle, Pavey Ark and Pike O’ Stickle once formed the outer rim of a volcano. Many a climber has enjoyed ascending Jake’s Rake. I preferred to sink my body into cold 14°C waters. It was an ancient volcano after all!

I lasted about 15 minutes in the water before I decided to call it a day. While I looked the part, my technique let me down, with turbulent waters I struggled. The water was cold, and the wind that chopped the waters was equally as cold. I suffered badly from shivers on land afterwards. The tow float had a good swim and remained visible. Also the pouch with dry bag kept my phone dry (which I used to measure my swim), even after a capsize! David kindly filmed me swimming, the result can be seen above.

Once warmed up and had lunch we took the descent back to the car park. However we missed the boulder crossing at the ghyll and ended up looking for a way across further down. David found a site he thought was broach-able. For his long legs it was, but I failed in this leap of faith and hit the side of the ghyll. David reached for my left arm and as he kept a hold of me, to stop me from falling down the waterfall, I felt my tendons twist. I managed to climb onto dry land, having taken an impromptu dip in the ghyll. My boots were soaked and I was in the water up to my knees. I had just got dry, and now I was wet again! Add to that a throbbing wrist and I could be forgiven for giving up on the remaining plans for the day. However I did not. I fought the injury to go on a second swim that day.

I am happy to report that the remaining journey down the ghyll was uneventful. Thankfully there were free toilets at the car park and I managed to change into fresh swimwear.  I will write about about my second swim of the day in my next post.

Have you visited Stickle Tarn, or had an unexpected swim? Fallen into fast flowing water?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

30 Days Wild 2018 – Day Eight

twt-30-days-wild_countdown_08Day 8: It’s Friday! The focus of today is to ID a plant.

On the 30 Days Wild Facebook page, here. There was some debate as to whether a plant was the deadly nightshade or the woody nightshade (bittersweet). I had noticed a purple flower among the wild roses whilst on my walk to work and thought I would take a closer look.

The plant in question has purple flowers with a yellow stamen. The leaves are a broad heart shape.

bittersweet

Bittersweet

There is much confusion online about this plant. However a few informative videos on YouTube helped me identify the plant as the less harmful woody nightshade or bittersweet.

Apparently the flowers and berries of the deadly nightshade are completely different to the bittersweet. I doubt it would be wise to attempt to eat either plant’s berries.

 

Have you come across the deadly nightshade or the bittersweet?

Thanks for reading, and stay wild!

Christine x

 

 

A Close Up With – Birds of Prey

My last close up with – is of my encounter with a varied feathered few, during a half day falconry experience at Gauntlet Birds of Prey, Knutsford. 2011 seems such a long time ago, but I still remember their Lanner Falcon, Sally digging her claws into my scalp as she tried to bully me!

The half day experience comprised of firstly learning to tie the falconers knot and then handling a few birds, from owls to kestrels and falcons.

After this meet and greet there was a chance to fly a vulture and the end of the experience was a walk with harris hawks. I loved it and have always wanted to do a similar experience in future.

Have you had a bird of prey experience? What were your impressions?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

A Close Up With – Bottlenose Dolphins of Cromarty Firth

A while back I wrote about my face to face encounter with Red Pandas at Paradise Wildlife Park. It got me thinking of the many wildlife encounters I have had over the years. The first memory that popped into my head was the 2011 encounter with wild Bottlenose Dolphins in Cromarty Firth.

302483_10150791441890271_3722727_n

Bottlenose Dolphins Cromarty, Scotland.

In 2011, David and I incorporated a Grand Tour of Scotland to our travels. We started in Stirling, then headed to Inverness before returning south to Edinburgh. While B&Bing on the Black Isle we booked an hour+ long tour with EcoVentures to see their local pod of Bottlenose Dolphins.

On the day I remembered we were kitted out in waterproofs. After a safety briefing we were escorted towards the RIB.

David and I sat near the back of the RIB which didn’t detract from the experience. The RIB coursed into Cromarty Firth and then followed the headland where there were nesting birds. Within 30 minutes of the trip we came close to a pod of Bottlenose Dolphins. Though we didn’t see any Harbour Porpoises or Pilot Whales on our trip, the Bottlenose Dolphins more than stole the show. They followed the RIB as it coursed through the water. It is a memory I shall cherish all my life.

340651_10150791441930271_1210702_o

Bottlenose Dolphins

Afterwards, back on land, poor David succumbed to seasickness, but the memory of seeing these wonderful creatures in their habitat more than overcame the discomfort. The below video shows some of the best moments we experienced.

Have you experienced dolphins close at hand?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

Sunday Sevens #46

I love sharing my weekly news with you in the form of a Sunday Sevens. 🙂 Thanks to Natalie at Threads and bobbins for creating the series. This week has been rather uneventful so hopefully I’ve managed to scrape enough pictures together to keep you interested.

A few days off work:

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great on the days David and I took off work this week. It simply rained all day Monday. Despite this we took Riley on a 4.6 miles walk around Sefton Park. It may have been wet and dreary but we enjoyed the exercise and being outside. There were many crows flying about, tufted ducks on the lake and crocus and daffodils brightened up the gloominess.

Tuesday dawned in much the same light as Monday, however as we drove to Formby the clouds cleared and a warm spring sun came out. It was lovely on the beach. The air held the hope of warmer days to come. Riley enjoyed his run and loved the freedom of the beach.

I calculated that Riley has walked/ran 13 miles this week!

Which brings me nicely to my #walk1000miles. I’ve managed to walk 36 miles this week, bringing my annual total to 398 miles! If you are joining in the challenge, how are you doing?

Spring:

Though it doesn’t seem like spring has arrived for most. This week in the NW of England it has felt very springlike. David and I spotted some lovely crocus flowering in Newsham Park. How gorgeous are those blooms?

Music:

Last week I was approached by Kerry Andrew who kindly asked if she could use a clip of my Buttermere swim in a music video she was creating. I agreed. The completed video went live a week later.

You are Wolf (where Kerry is vocalist/composer) have created a video that evokes the essence of memory and of a time gone by. I was surprised at how much of my clip she used and in hindsight I could have offered her much more. It seems Kerry is a keen wild swimmer herself! While writing this post, I did some research and discovered that You are Wolf create Alt Folk music and Kerry has performed pieces from the recent, Robert McFarlane book, The Lost Words. This book with beautiful illustrations by Jackie Morris, is one I am looking forward to reading. I particularity liked Kerry’s rendition of Bluebell.

Kerry has also written her debut novel Swansong which I have added to my list of books to read!

Book I am reading:

This week I have embarking on Ben Okri’s Booker Prize novel The Famished Road. I discovered Ben’s poetry when he featured in the enjoyable Future Learn course Literature and Mental Health. The novel looks a big read. Have you read it? Let me know what to expect!

Baking:

This weekend David baked a cake. He cooked a chocolate sponge with a filling of half peanut butter and half chocolate, with a chocolate ganache covering. The cake was very sweet.

So, that was my week, how was yours?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

 

An Introduction to Wild Swimming

I was thinking the other day, that of all the wild swims I have posted about, I have not included a beginners guide. So here’s how I read and learned about the wonderful ‘sport’ of wild swimming.

After the initial interest, (visiting the shores of Llyn Idwal and Derwentwater) and of being tempted into the silky waters. I Googled whether it was indeed acceptable to go swimming outdoors in the UK. I discovered that there was a time when there were hundreds of lidos (outdoor pools) in the UK and people didn’t bat an eyelid if you were spotted swimming along a river or paddling in a lake. Today’s mindset that swimming outdoors is dangerous, comes from after WW2 when heated indoor pools became the norm. Thankfully people like Kate Rew, The Wild Swimming Brothers and even Robson Green, are helping swimming outdoors, known as wild swimming, become much more acceptable.

My first port of call for research was Kate Rew’s book Wild Swim, and Daniel Start’s Wild Swimming. Both books, (with stunning photographs) offer insightful recommendations on places to swim by region.

OSS_Logo_300px-01_300_300_c1.jpg

Kate Rew is founder of The Outdoor Swimming Society, an invaluable website with information for anyone interested in wild swimming. Part of the website is a Wild Swim map, an interactive map of the UK where people post reviews on swims with helpful hints, (I’ve even added a couple!)

Many Google searches came up with information on safe swimming. One was by the NHS, and another from The Lake District National Park, which gave a list of lakes that you could swim in and those that you couldn’t! It’s a website that has informed my many Lake District wild swims.

Another website on Lake District swimming that I frequent is the blog Swimming the Lakes. This lady planned to swim across all the lakes and tarns in the Lake District. Her blog posts have once again helped in my wild swimming choices.

YouTube was another invaluable resource. Just search swimming in the Lake District and you get hundreds of hits! One channel that whetted my appetite for swimming in the Lake District was Trek and Run Online. Their videos of swimming in Buttermere and Derwentwater inspired me to take a dip in both lakes myself, resulting in happy memories.

One aspect of wild swimming I have not covered is of course hypothermia. Though not a blog I followed from the beginning, Open Water Woman has this topic covered. Her detailed post is well worth a read and very insightful.

So my research determined that I could go wild swimming, but what should I wear? What equipment did I need? I did not like the idea of wearing a wet-suit so that was out of the equation. I wanted to feel the cool water lapping at my skin. So skins it was then.

I can’t explain the excitement I had when I went shopping for clothing for my first swim in 2016. I had a basic list.

  • A swimsuit
  • Goggles (which I have never worn)
  • Neoprene boots/shoes (I didn’t want to cut my feet on rocks and stones as I waded into the water)

David thought I was insane but humoured me.

DSC_0106

First swim at Derwentwater

Since my initial swims, my ‘kit’ has expanded. A simple bathing suit is ok for swimming in summer but come autumn, when temperatures drop you find your body needs extra protection.

  • Neoprene gloves are a must for colder waters. My hands burned when I swam in Derwentwater during October, enough for me to research hand protection.
  • A towel from home is just too bulky. I now have two microfiber towels from Mountain Warehouse. They are easier to carry in my rucksack when going on a hike before a swim.
  • To document my swims, David gifted me a GoPro type waterproof camera. The quality of video is excellent! I named it Wilson (of Cast Away fame) as I almost lost it on a swim in Ullswater.
  • A thermometer is a must if you want to know what temperature of water you are swimming in. I purchased a quirky child’s tortoise thermometer who I have called Terrence.
  • Since purchasing my first swimsuit. I have bought many tankini’s. I prefer the fit of shorts and top to an all in one.

And finally.

colour-guide-dryrobe-range-Small

The last piece of kit that I now own is a dryrobe! I have been after a changing robe for so long but could not justify the cost, as I only dip, not compete. For Christmas David kindly gifted me my very own dryrobe. It’s a kids advanced (as I’m a shortie), and it is spacious enough for me to get dry and changed in. I am eager to get back to swimming to try it out!

Not satisfied with just swimming in the Lake District I went in search for information on swimming in Wales. Vivienne Rickman Poole‘s blog documents her many swims in the llyns of Snowdonia. I’ve managed to do two swims in Wales in 2017, Llyn Cwellyn and Llyn Cau. I hope to add to this tally in 2018.

I’ve found many Facebook pages relating to wild swimming. Outdoor Swimming Society has one, COWS or Cumbria Open Water Swimmers is a good page for the Lake District and nearer to home #ChesterFrosties have an inspiring page too. I’m sure there will be one for your area too!

The take home message of this post is to be informed, swim within your limits, be courteous to others and enjoy the experience. For my first swim at Derwentwater, I felt apprehensive about entering the water, I took my time and slowly edged into the cool May waters. I knew I didn’t have a strong upper body so I kept to the shoreline. It’s only when you feel stronger and confident that you can swim for longer.

I hope this post has been informative? I have accumulated my knowledge over two-three years and will continue to learn. Perhaps I have inspired you to give wild swimming a go? If you do, let me know how you get on?

Thanks for reading and stay safe,

Christine x

N.B: An added extra to my swim kit a tow float!