Tag Archives: Cumbria

Ullswater, 2nd May, 2017: last cold swim till November

Last cold swim till Novermber

In my (albeit fairly limited) experience, it is always colder in Ullswater. I don’t know why, but I don’t just mean colder than in Somerset where I live, but colder than the rest of the lakes in the Lake District. We met up on the 2nd May, in driving rain (which I have forgotten to add to the drawing). I was already in the water when Rosie and Jackie got in, so I had a good view of Rosie’s face as she entered the slightly unseasonal 7 degrees. It was a picture. And so it is, now, a picture 😉

A man in a white van stopped, once were were in and acclimatized, and gazed in wonderment; announced, full of male bravado, that he’d join us in 5 minutes… and then drove away very quickly and never returned.

Ullswater, 2nd May, 2017: last cold swim till November

Ullswater, 2nd May, 2017: last cold swim till November

What to do on a Wet Sunday in Cumbria

Things to do on a Wet Sunday in Cumbria

It is Sunday, the Sunday before a bank holiday Monday no less, and I am in Cumbria. Of course it is like this. If I am going to get wet, I might as well do it properly. Somebody told me the day before that Buttermere was the wettest place in England, officially. But there’s a reason why swimmers are always saying “it’s lovely once you’re in”, it’s because it’s true.

And yes, my friends, I freely admit that that is me with the neoprene gloves and socks on. I have become a convert to them in the last month, in this unseasonally chilly spring when yesterday’s 8.5 degrees was not as bad as I was actually expecting. I shall forgo them as soon as we hit double figures, but until then, I’ve become impatient for small creature comforts.

What to do on a Wet Sunday in Cumbria

What to do on a Wet Sunday in Cumbria

Self-Portrait in Red Tarn

Self-Portrait, in Red Tarn

I’ve walked to the top of Helvellyn an uncounted number of times over the last 30… 35… years, but I’ve never swum in Red Tarn, although I’ve often wanted to. I am usually with people who tell me this would be ridiculous, or it is freezing, or I do not fancy walking home in soaking wet pants, or I have taken other ways up to the peak which have afforded a bird’s-eye-view, but do not take me actually past this tarn, one of the highest in England, Google tells me.

This time I came prepared, not only with costume but shoes to swim in (so as to avoid this sort of scene). But it is one thing to want to leap into the clear, cold, deep and gloomy-blue waters of the tarn; and quite another thing to actually be there, staring into her inky depths.

I did one loop of the edge and it was a glorious cool kilometre or so, but I wouldn’t cross the middle, not on my own. I never did discover why she is called Red…

Self-Portrait in Red Tarn

Self-Portrait in Red Tarn

Coniston end-to-end 2015

Coniston End-to-End: Green hats are ready to go!

Coniston-end-to-end, 2015. We are at one end, ready to swim to the other end, five and a quarter miles away. Sadly, no, that is not me without the wetsuit, I dithered over the issue, but the water I’ve been swimming in has been warmer than Coniston, and the wetsuit is very new and not very cheap, and so it would have been rude not to wear it. There were a few ‘skins’ swimmers, who I was a little jealous of, but it was a lovely swim, and a fantastic day for it.

Thanks to Colin Hill and the Chillswim people for running another fantastic event!

(and for those of you unfamiliar with Chillswim – the orange things are the floats they make, good for visibility and excellent for putting your stuff in – if you have a drybag version – while you swim. And to the uninitiated, they are TOW floats, not TOE floats… this last point has caused some confusion amongst non-swimming friends….)

Oh, and for the record: 2hours, 53 minutes, 58 seconds…. 🙂

Coniston end-to-end 2015

Coniston end-to-end 2015

 

Morris Man at Greystoke

Morris Men at Greystoke

There were Morris Men at the Boot & Shoe Inn, Greystoke, yesterday. Actually these were the squeeze-box players, and one of them was a lady, indeed there were several lady Morris Dancers too, which they say is not allowed back home in Somerset!

Morris Man at Greystoke

Morris Man at Greystoke

Morris Lady at Greystoke

Morris Lady at Greystoke

The Dinosaur of Hall's Fell

Up the Dinosaur’s Back to Blencathra.

Yesterday Fiona and I went up the Dinosaur’s Back, known to Ordinance Survey as Hall’s Fell ridge. There are in fact a number of dinosaur backs up to Blencathra. Though not the pointiest, I think this is the longest stretch of proper dinosaur and a fine and entertaining climb. Unless they ever wake up….

The Dinosaur of Hall's Fell

The Dinosaur of Hall’s Fell

 

Buttermere, by myself

Buttermere, by myself, 28th October

Buttermere, by myself

Buttermere, by myself

The last of my Lake District sketches (for a while). This is me, swimming the length of Buttermere, and somewhat over half way back again. At which point I finally spotted Mum, who I was unaware had followed me along the lakeside on foot for the whole length of the lake (a little over 2K). I wasn’t looking out for her because she hadn’t been going to do that, and she was wearing a nicely camouflaged forest-green waterproof…

I wimped out at this point and admitted that by now it had got a a teeny bit boring swimming all on my own in the cold and the rain. I am not particularly a fan of swimming in wetsuits, but it was only about 10 or 11 degrees, and passing by the torrents pouring off the fells it was quite a bit colder. Walking was a dubious idea, since I did that in cold wet feet with only little plastic ballet pumps on, through a number of merrily gurgling icy streams: with hindsight not the wimpy option, but the company was better 🙂

People have been confused as to how I can draw a picture of myself and have asked whether I have used photographs. This is odd, because nobody is confused when I turn out pictures of fairies and demons. People, it’s very simple: there are no photos and I make it all up 🙂 It did happen like this, but this is only how I think it might have looked.

One exchange between other walkers and Mum is worth relating I think, as some passers-by noticed her watching me:
“Is he with you?”
“He’s a she. Yes, that’s my daughter”
“Oh. How old is she?”
“44”
“Oh… oh dear, that’s the same age as me” …said in the voice of one who was hoping to be told I was something silly and frivolous like 25 😉

The shoes were in the tow-float, by the way – the orange thing that was slightly irritatingly bouncing on my bottom for a lot of the swim, but is actually an awesome object for being visible, and for carrying stuff. The very nice Chillswim people make them.

Up the Dinosaur’s Back, 29th October

image Up the ‘Dinosaur’s Back’ to the top of Blencathra, with nieces/nephews, siblings/in-laws, and Mum who with hindsight may not have fully appreciated what she was getting into! Of such misjudgement are the best stories made. All back safe and sound. Not everyone is in the picture – this is as much as l could scribble in the moment, then a few outlines strengthened and shading added back at the cottage. image The other pic is Georgia, sketched from across a wide table when she was moving around all the time, which accounts for it not looking very much like her. For a 6 year old she can’t half scramble up mountains though!