It was not winter, but a cold reluctant spring and feisty April weather (I have been slow to draw this one). We splooshed about in a 6 degree Crummock Water whipped up to resemble the sea, all questions of ‘do we actually want to get in there’ vanishing with the chilly water’s embrace.
Later, changing in the drizzle from cozzies into only marginally drier clothes, a dog-walker arrived at the gravely beach. As the small dog leapt about in the water yipping with delight and silliness, it’s owner sighed and told us “she goes in, even in the winter”, as if there was no explaining the antics of some creatures.
“So do we”, we declared happily.
Swimming with Jackie in Crummock Water, Cumbria, April 2018
Jackie and I went swimming in Ullswater last week. The rain in the morning was so heavy I discovered that, while a Dryrobe is excellent for keeping most of a person dry, under the right conditions it also has an ability to collect all that rain and funnel it straight into one’s boots…
It’s much more fun being soaking wet in a lake.
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…
So yesterday we swam round Burgh Island. Plum Duff was suffering from a dodgy shoulder from a 5 hour swim the day before, but still made it round. She emerged victorious and, by some sleight of hand unknown to Burgh Island virgins such as I, she had a gin and tonic in one hand as she exited the water!
(ok I admit, I lied a little: the glass was in fact a crystal tumbler. The gin, tonic and cucumber were perfectly real…)
Swimming in the rain, at Vobster. I would have liked to draw us and the bubbles all in one picture, but hard enough to get an impression of just the bubbles, on my scribbly phone… worth a scribble nonetheless, just to remember the way all the bubbles sat on the surface, just like that, each staying for a second or two but the rain was so heavy we were surrounded by them.
Spring has sprung in the lake. It gets in through the front of one’s swimming costume and collects where it should not. We don’t know what it is, but it wasn’t there through last summer, autumn and winter, so I am naming it spring greens…
[Note: apologies for on-going lack of cats. I am on holiday and there are no cats here!]
Yesterday I returned to Grisedale Tarn, the site, last June, of my least elegant exit from water ever. Anyone who has ventured into the chilly waters of a mountain tarn will appreciate the difficulty of getting oneself across several metres of slimy sharp rocks with cold feet, through water just a few inches deep. I imagine it was an entertaining sight but I chose to believe the whoops from the other side of the tarn were nothing to do with my predicament. Fortunately the other side is a fair way off.
So the drawing is my memory of last year. This year I took shoes I could swim in, though it was much colder: this time what I hadn’t anticipated was that the effect on my feet of going from hot walking boots straight into water about 6 or 7 degrees would make them very unhappy. Again. Just can’t please some feet…..
My thermometer says it is still barely six degrees (though discussions with people on site suggest it might be nearly as warm as seven). I will not say getting in is a thing that I find particularly difficult, but still, there is that special thing you do with holding your arms up high as you get in, as if that will keep them from getting wet…
18 minutes round the lake; our first swim of spring. We’ve made it: we swam all through the winter.
I know a certain lady fond of dipping. I would not be surprised if she had swum, summer and winter, in half the rivers and lakes in Somerset. How she gets about to them all is a wonder, not least the question of how she finds them all out in the first place. So I began to wonder if she might have a job involving a lot of local travel, perhaps a sales rep or similar, and drove around the county enthusiastically leaping out of her car, flinging off her clothes and joyously slipping into the local waterways en route to her appointments. I imagined her in a sharp suit, briefcase of sample books in one hand, surreptitiously dripping pond water , with waterlilies in her hair. Though of course she could simply be a secret agent…
Vobster at sunrise yesterday! Still mist on the water. Ruth and Jim ahead of me and when I looked up to see where they were, all was suddenly blinding golden light.
We had thought if we put on wetsuits we could go twice round. Not making that mistake again! We could, but as Ruth put it: “none of the endorphins, all of the cold!” No shock to the system, but the pinchy cold was appalling on hands and feet. I won’t say l missed the shivering like an idiot afterwards, but next week it’s back to shorter swims in swimming costumes 🙂
Vobster at Sunrise, with Ruth & Jim (there are two heads here and one orange tow float)