Sat 23rd Jun - Sun 24th Jun, 2007

Ullswater Swim/climb

Members: Virginia Castick, John Castick, Joanne Castick, Jim Gregson, Sandy Gregson, Lester Payne, Graham Harkness, Sue Harkness, Michelle Harvie, Mark Garrod, Frank Williams, Margaret Williams. Guests: James Hoyle, Kasia Hoyle.


Following the success of Michelle's Welsh Freeze last year, I decided a Lake District version was called for and so the 'Lakes Farce' was born. After many changes of plan, including some made as we walked, the final route had three swims totalling 1000m and 11 miles of walking taking us 10 hours.

Despite the gloomy weather forecast, Saturday was merely cloudy and, by the time we got there, the tops were clear. The sun even came out at the finish.

We set off from the campsite in Glenridding, after waiting a short while for Mark and Michelle. By the time we got to Red Tarn, Michelle was in the water having taken a different route to the tarn. We noted that she was in a wetsuit and realised the water must be freezing and so it was. I was still gasping for breath when Joanne and I got out after just a few minutes swimming. Frank and Margaret departed back to Glenridding at this point to help John blow up his rubber boat for the final swim. Hastily back into clothes, we all shot off up Swirral Edge at a fast pace; the swimmers to get warm from the icy tarn and the supporters to get warm from their noble wait in the mist and wind. My legs wouldn't stop aching on the way up and I was glad of a rest on the top of Helvellyn. Whilst eating lunch Dave Lygate appeared with a group of friends - bad timing Dave - he was conned by Michelle into swimming at Grisedale Tarn, our next objective. Having nicely warmed up with a pleasant stroll across Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike, it was revolting to put on a cold and soggy wetsuit. The water didn't feel quite as cold as Red Tarn or maybe we were getting used to it by then.

Michelle and Dave Lygate swam without wetsuits; Michelle because she's brave and Dave because he had no choice.

After Grisedale Tarn the party split into two. Some went over Fairfield, the longer route, and others including the meet leader went over St. Sunday Crag. We descended over Gavel Pike to Deepdale Bridge and then across the main road to follow the valley path to Side Farm. We were lucky that the café was still open and after several restorative cups of tea, Joanne and I were ready for the final swim. Jim and Sandy accompanied us to the lake edge after we had left a note for the rest of the walkers who hadn't arrived at this point. (They missed the note and walked back to Glenridding thus missing the final boat ride or swim). The lake water felt positively tropical after the cold tarns and the swim across the lake back to the pier at Glenridding was easy. It was nice to have an accompanying boat to fend off other shipping. Sandy looked a little apprehensive about this part of the journey but Captain John reminded her there were no icebergs or polar bears here. As we emerged from the water at the other side the second group arrived so John took Michelle back across the lake for her final swim which she completed very quickly.

After a cup of tea, the party dispersed. Some went home and others stayed for what turned out to be a poor day on Sunday. I had a great weekend and thanks to all the bag carriers and supporters. A special thanks to Michelle and Joanne for doing all the swimming with me - where next?

Virginia Castick

Meet Promo:

A further update on this exciting meet. Camp at Gillside Farm (GR382168). On Saturday the meet leader promises a grand tour of Helvellyn to include four swims. Red Tarn to be swum, then warm up on Swirral edge followed by a jaunt along the tops and down to Grizedale Tarn for the second swim. A short ascent over Fairfield and Hart Crag leads to a pleasant stroll down the beautiful Dovedale Valley. The longest swim of 500m across Brotherswater is the next target, then walk through Hartsop and along to the lakeside to Side Farm (teashop!). Follow the track a bit northwards until we can gain access to the lakeside. An easy swim across the narrowest bit of the lake, with an island halfway to rest on, will take us straight to Glenridding half a mile from the campsite. This is a total distance of 12 miles(ish) Wetsuits are a good idea. There are no brownie points to be gained from becoming hypothermic. Non swimming supporters and bag carriers will be most welcome. On Sunday if anyone has the strength left, the plan is to climb on Eagle Crag in Grisedale.

Virginia Castick

Red tarn (Virginia Castick)
Red tarn (Virginia Castick)
Everyone on  Helvellyn (Virginia Castick)
Grisedale Tarn (Virginia Castick)
Ullswater (Virginia Castick)

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