Mountain Journeys

Wild Swimming – for something a little bit different!


Pavey Ark rising above Stickle Tarn, Langdale

As is the case for many, I have more time on my hands than usual. Some of this time has been spent reading. For quite a while I've been after getting hold of a wild swimming book for the Lakes, well that time has arrived. I've also been asked to write a short review on behalf of Vertebrate Publishing who very Kindly sent me a copy.

Swimming Wild in the Lake District - Suzanna Cruickshank

What struck me straight away were the glorious photographs that begin on the front cover and just don't stop. Knowing all too well what the weather is like here in the Lakes, I know that to have so many brilliant images will have taken a lot of time and effort, this is to be commended.

Once having a browse, the first feature of interest was the 'Technical information' section for each lake. A really good idea with some interesting information, some of which I'll be able to use in my work out on the mountains. But knowing the depth and other features of a lake are important before making a choice as to where to swim at certain times of the year.

I thought then it better if I actually, at least initially, read the text from cover to cover. Which I realise may be a little odd given this is a guidebook. But having now done just that, I can confirm, it works surprisingly well. There is enough interesting and historical information to have kept my attention at times when I would have otherwise fallen asleep!

With the Introduction being so well put together, I think this helped in keeping my attention for far longer. I particularly liked the simplicity of 'Before - During - After'. This is something that could be applied to so many activities, but maybe even more applicable to open water swimming in chilly northern lakes :-). So not only was this section good for a newbie like me (yes I do a lot of swimming in rivers, but only rarely in lakes), but good for newcomers to the area. Particularly so with the 'Where to get in and what to expect' features. It is the where to get in and what to expect that usual puts me off. How rocky will it be, how quickly will the water become deep, are there reeds/weeds, how about submerged objects?
All of this and more is all answered clearly for each lake. Another area included are any currents, when applicable. This may not be something many consider when thinking about a swim in a lake. I know from lots of swimming in fast flowing rivers, a current is very serious and absolutely must be considered, even if it is only mild, they make progress far more arduous.
To top all this off, there's plenty of historical references and good info about the local wildlife, particularly what may be encountered whilst by the lakeshore and out on a swim.

Personally I'm a big fan of maps, so would always take a map along on a day out. But for those less keen, it isn't necessary as each section does include a detailed map showing parking and entry points pretty clearly. But if wanting to combine swimming with a walk in the hills, then we recommend packing a separate map.

For hardened open water swimming types, this may well be a year round activity. For many others, me included, it is very much a summer treat, I'm thinking August - September here. We sincerely hope the fells and Lake District as a whole will be open well before then and we can all be back out enjoying these beautiful places, be it from the water or the mountain, or maybe both. For sure, as well as mountain trips, I'm now looking forward to at least a few forays into the water!

For anyone looking to get their hands on a copy, click here

Thanks for reading. All the best.



All the ingredients for a Lakeland swim


A couple of the 'get in' points for Rydal Water - our closest lake


Winter swimming in Elterwater - that'll be chilly!


Springtime is bluebell time near to many of the lake shores



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