Wild swimming is swimming anywhere that is not a pool – lakes, rivers, the sea. That first encounter with cold water will always be a shock to the senses that never entirely disappears, however long you’ve done it. However, within a couple of minutes that shock becomes a feeling of being intensely alive to the watery environment and to yourself, that’s what I most value. What’s more there are many side benefits: better sleep, circulation and skin plus a lasting sense of wellbeing.
Cumbria, the perfect swimming county
Cumbria with its Lake District and the Eden Valley is the perfect county to try wild or open-water swimming. Many lakes with clean, clear freshwater, in summer not too cold and a welcome for this increasingly popular sport. For tips and ideas, The Swim England Open Water website is a good starting point. https://www.swimming.org/openwater/open-water-swimming-explained/
Where to swim
Every Cumbrian wild-swimmer has their favourite spot but rivers are more challenging than lakes and plunging straight into deep water isn’t for us all. It’s obviously sensible for beginners to start in a peaceful lake with a gently sloping shore like Crummock Water, one of the lakes in the Lake District and my favourite spot.
My wild side
At the beginning of this summer, I resolved to start wild swimming so that I could carry on during the winter months. August was over and time was against me. We used to take our children – and Leah, our dog of course – to Crummock Water for swimming, picnics and walks when they were younger. So, I recently got a friend to agree to come with me, on condition that she didn’t have to swim and we headed off to Crummock Water. I got lost and could not find the spot we used to visit years ago. However, serendipitously we found Crummock South Beach where the shore shelves gently down with parking nearby.
If you do try wild swimming from this point, you’ll love it. The water is shallow for a little way out, though stony underfoot. You swim just a few metres out into the lake. My lake swim was, as it always is, a transforming, invigorating experience. I strongly recommend bringing a flask of hot drink. At nearby Kirkstile Inn, they normally have a log burner and a warm welcome.
Keep Safe and Enjoy The Benefits of Wild Swimming in the Lake District
Always, begin gently – in calm water, for a few minutes only and where you can stand. Progress only very gradually to more challenging settings. Never swim alone.
Many find wild swimming can help with:
1. Better sleep
2. Better circulation
3. Increased happiness
4. Increased metabolism
5. Boosts immune system
6. Better skin
And the Lake District is beautiful whatever the weather, you just need the right clothing. For more information on swimming in pools nearby see Things to Do pages.