We’d gone to the Lake District for the weekend to wild camp and climb Scafell Pike as prep for the Three Peaks challenge but one of the best memories from that weekend was the swimming…
‘Go on’, Martha urged, ‘just one small dip’. I hadn’t come prepared for swimming, it was getting late in the evening and I was itching to set out for our camping spot on Yewbarrow. I looked out at the water sprawling out in front of me and wasn’t sure I wanted the effort of ungracefully making my way into the water, being cold and then having to make my way out, drip dry and then change for walking again.
In the end I gave in, saying that I’d give it a go if only to stop her babbling on at me to do it. And that my friends was that was the beginning of something new.
As I walked into the water I realised it wasn’t as cold as I had anticipated it being and as I launched myself in to get the shock over with I realised how glad I was to be in there. The cool water washing over me was unbelievably refreshing and felt apt for the evening, which was golden as the sun started to lower itself over the mountains around Wast Water. Before too long we got out again as there was a walk yet to do and Martha kindly leant me her surf towel – essentially a dress made out of towel that you can throw on to dry, cover your modesty as you change under it while it shelters you from the wind and chill.
The camp was great and we were on a high after the swim in the lake below us. The next day dawned slightly duller than the last but the hike up Scafell Pike was hot and incredibly sticky. By the time we got back to the car we’d already decided on another swim – this time I needed little persuasion that this was a good idea and I happily splashed straight in again.
Inspired to swim
That weekend left me feeling unbelievably refreshed, alive and inspired – not something I’ve felt in a long time. On the drive home I realised that it was something that I absolutely needed to do again.
Within the next week I bought the Wild Guide for the Lakes and Yorkshire Dales and we’d both invested in our own surf towels from Rapanui (just on a side note, these arrived with absolutely zero plastic which was the best). The one thing that had made me reluctant to get in the water was the faff involved and these towels helped remove that barrier.
The following Monday we found ourselves at Aysgarth falls in the Yorkshire Dales and we walked down to Redmire Falls. This was a post-work adventure/dog walk and I was so so so looking forward to getting in the water again. However, when we arrived I couldn’t find a safe entry and exit point, plus there were loads of people swimming from the opposite side so we retraced our steps and ended up trying a spot just above the falls. It turns out you can’t actually swim in this part so we just ended up having a splash and paddle around.
Ironically, if we’d have stayed at Aysgarth we would have had the place to ourselves and loads of places to swim but we needed to walk the dog so …
The next time we had a chance to try a swim was on holiday in Spain. We paid a visit to a series of water falls called Las Fuentes del Algar. This place is one of nature’s beauty spots. The down side is that it has been commercialised and gets very busy. However, it’s €5 to go in and if you can get there early you’d likely have an hour or so before the tourists come in and it’s definitely a place I recommend. I enjoyed our visit despite the crowds. Read a bit more about it on my blog here.
Then we booked onto a sea kayaking tour and set out to explore the coastline, popping into a couple of caves along the way. Our guide took us to what he claimed was the second largest sea cave in Europe and it was fantastic. After exploring the cave as much as we could by kayak, we all pulled up and had the chance to go for a snorkel. The light was streaming in from the mouth of the cave, lighting up the blue water which was a wonderful sight from below the surface – not one the camera does justice to. I just did not want to get out.
I honestly did not think that my heart could be taken from the mountains but in the past few weeks I’ve been finding myself searching for new swim spots to explore, joining local wild swim groups and even looking at heading down south to Cornwall (I’m a believer it’s better up north…). I feel inspired properly for the first time in a long time and I’m sad I’ve only discovered this new love part way through the summer.
Thinking of having a go?
Do it! It will make you feel truly alive and nothing beats that feeling. I’d say it’s a good idea to go with someone who knows what they’re doing – at least for safety if nothing else – but otherwise there are many books out there, Instagram channels and more to inspire you to get outside and into the water.