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Open water lake swimming

pool & open water training


Swim the Lakes

Catching the train up to the Lake District was really easy and pain free. Having not travelled when I was younger, I got to experience a youth hostel for the first time at 46 years old. The Ambleside Youth Hostel definitely didn’t disappoint, with an outstanding location right at Lake Windermere’s doorstep. There was a huge mix of ages which added to the relaxed atmosphere. The bar was well supplied, the meals were enjoyable and the walk to the beautiful Ambleside village was easy.

Ambleside Youth Hostel
Ambleside Youth Hostel

Alongside myself, 4 of my friends we booked with Swim the Lakes to explore the Eastern lakes of The Lake District. So, we were going swim eight lakes in two days!!

Swim the Lakes were outstanding in taking care of us and showing us all the best parts of each lake.

Wild swimming at its best!!

The acclimatising swim on the first evening before our actual adventure began was to check everyone’s swim ability. A chance to meet everyone and there is nothing better than being around by different people all with a common interest.


All 14 of us in the group were chomping at the bit to begin our adventure wild swims. I knew the two and half days were going to be full and we were definitely up for a good couple of days.

Lake District
Ready to start the swim adventure - Penny Bird and Camera

Day 1

6.55am meet at the bus for us to be driven to Wray so we could swim across Windermere straight back to the hostel.

Check out the amazing, Low Wray Campsite, which has pitches on the water’s edge of Windermere.

Nothing better to have a huge fry up after a good swim.

Swim the Lakes
Bagg faffing!!!!

Back on the bus to Coniston, which is the 5th largest lake. We got to swim to Peel Island or also known as Wild Cat Island, which got the name from the book written by Authur Ransome, Swallows and Amazons. My best was swimming around the island.

As we are driven to each lake and the water temperatures being 14 to 16 degrees most of us swam in wetsuits. So you leave your wetsuit on and pull the top half to your waist and wear lots of layer to warm up. What else do you do after a swim???? Tea and cake!! There was plenty on offer.

Esthwaite Water was one of Beatrix Potter’s favourite lake but now privately owned you are not allowed to swim in the lake. We had special permission which was arranged with the owner.

Elterwater was rather chilly as the water from the fells flows straight into the lake. It was rather fresh and caused lots of ooooo’s and aaaaar’s. Other rude words were said too. A play in the eddy was amusing and enjoyable. An eddy is a circular movement of water. I was sprinting in the eddy and not moving at all. I would take caution with eddy currents as you could be swept away and also not knowing if there are large branches fallen down in the path of the current.

Lake District Swim the Lakes
Belly Flop into Elterwater - Lake District

We are definitely getting the hang of the changing and bag faffing so you are ready and warm for your next swim.

Grasmere, “The loveliest spot than man hath found’. Each breath you took to the side gave you a view of a stunning backdrop with the stark contract of the green on the fells and the blue sky. The last swim for the day revived our tired bodies. Definitely one of my favourite lakes but then again, each lake has their own individual characteristics and offers you something different.

Swim the Lakes
Lake District and mountains - Penny Bird and Camera

Ambleside Youth Hostel
The very important drying room.

Ambleside Youth Hostel provide this massive drying room which we called our transition area. Nothing worse than putting on a wet swim costume, wetsuit or shoes. Everything is mostly dry the next day.

A shower and a big cooked dinner with a massive glass of red wine was just what we all were looking forward to. Meal times were a super opportunity to continue discussing all our swim adventures.

Lake District Rydal
Rydal - Penny Bird and Camera

Day 2

Another early start, big breakfast, more bag faffing.

Rydal Water just opposite the Badger Bar, which is great for a pub lunch afterwards. Ryal is a little gem with still water and boat free. The lake is surrounded by trees, Cumbrian stone walls and moorland.

Wild swimming near me
Rydal Lake

Brothers Water is a small lake in the Hartsap Valley but was originally called Broad Water. The name changed in the 19th century when two bothers drowned at the lake. The lake offers picturesque views but the waters a very cold. It’s a shallow lake with quite a few weedy patches. After our swim Pete, from Swim the Lakes made us a fire and we were blessed with sunshine, so lay soaking up the rays.

Our 8th lake was Ullswater which is the 2nd largest lake in the Lake District. The views are beautiful with high mountain ranges but also choppy waters due to the wind funnelled down the valley. I absolutely loved swimming here. We had to swim in a close pack, due to the boat traffic on the water, so we were clearly visible. One of the swimmers in the pack described our swim as if we were secret operatives on a serious SAS mission. We had to sight straight, negotiate the choppy waters and make sure we didn’t leave anyone behind. I love it!!!

Wild swimming
Secret SAS swim mission!!!

Phew what an amazing few days. The lakes which are each different were the centre stage of a theatre with the dramatic backdrop of the of the green fells and blue skies which are mind blowingly beautiful. Anything you do in the Lake District will certainly not disappoint especially the open water swimming.

Wild Swimming.
Ullswater Lake District

Thank you Penny Bird and Camera and

Open water swimming Hertfordshire
Penny Bird and Camera

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