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Diary of a wandering swimmer – Lakes, mountains, poets and a bit of running

Kate Greenwood was born in Galashiels, Scotland, raised from three years old in Yorkshire, found herself in London for 30 years and eventually escaped back to Scotland. She was raised to swim in rivers (the Wharfe at Appletreewick, for example), open air pools (Otley) and the sea, so open water swimming is not new. She started taking part in organised events about 10 years ago, putting on a wetsuit for the first time for the Great Scottish Swim in 2011. Now living just 10 minutes from Portobello Beach, one of her favourite things is to start the day with a sneaky swim in her local waters. She also likes to explore new swimming spots and share what she finds. So, where did Kate swim today?

Where did Kate swim (and run) today?

Having interspersed my blog last time with the sad tale of my friend leaving for warmer waters I do need to finish off my story of a little swimrun journey for you.

If you are a fan of swimrun events you may guess where this one was, given the colour of my hat and the time of year (early October). I consider myself quite a good runner, albeit pretty average speedwise, but today I was dead chuffed with my swimming. The photo above was on the penultimate swim of the day when I felt I was swimming really well. It’s just a shame you can’t see my teammate as we swam so well together. On exiting the water, we both said what an amazing swim this was. Our training had really paid off. She was on my toes the whole time and we swam in perfect synchrony. It really worked. The swim, our fourth out of five for the day, was magical. The water, at about 15 degrees, wasn’t cold, the hills around us were bathed in autumnal sunlight and there was underwater plant life that looked like light green floating moss. It was a 500m swim but I prefer to describe it as half a kilometre as I think it sounds more impressive.

The lake lies close to its namesake hamlet and is one of the smaller ones in the region at just over a kilometre long, 350m wide and 17m deep. It is around 54m above sea level and is banked by Worsdworth homes where steps rise to the rocky seat that once boasted the poet’s favourite view. Some of the land here is leased by the National Trust so you can walk around. If you do, check out the cave that used to be a quarry and, at the northern end, the only house Wordsworth ever actually bought and where his family lived until the 1930s. Another cottage nearby was also home to a writer, not one who talked about daffodils but more the opium kind of plant life. Thomas de Quincy is said to have initiated writing about addiction with his essay on opium eating – not something you would think of when taking in these surroundings.

It was good to face the last two runs and the final swim having been lifted by that experience as our swimrun challenge only got harder from this point on. The final swim was in another small lake. It was only slightly longer and deeper than the previous swim but so much colder at about 13C. It just shows how varied outdoor swimming can be depending on where you go and there was only a 2km run between these two!

Still, we did it, we finished Breca Swimrun Coniston (in the Lake District), and we are proud. The two lakes mentioned here are Rydal Water and Grasmere. We also swam in Windermere while participants in the full distance event started off in Coniston.

Roll on next year!

I want to swim (and run) there too

You can swim in nearly all of the lakes and tarns in the Lake District but you do need to pick your entry and exit points carefully to avoid trespassing on private land. Where lakes are on National Trust property, you can often swim, but do check first. Remember that water temperatures vary widely, so be prepared for that. There are also plenty of trails you can run on if you fancy, although you will not be able to follow the full event route unless you are actually participating.

The next Breca Swimrun Coniston event is scheduled for 5 and 6 October 2019.

Picture thanks to Breca Swimrun

If you want to suggest somewhere for Kate to swim next, you can contact her on kate.greenwood4@gmail.com

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