Sat 12th Aug - Sun 13th Aug, 2023

Wild swim Eskdale

Virginia Castick

Michelle Harvie

Eskdale wild swimming meet. 12/13th August 23


Michelle Harvie, Mark Garrod, Virginia Castick, John Castick, Graham Harkness, Sue Harkness, Christine Beeston, Kirsren Mundt, Lester Payne

The National Trust Eskdale campsite was busy but there was plenty of space, only Lester, who arrived by bike and couldn’t carry the necessary camping gear, stayed off site at the nearby youth hostel. The Castick and Harknesses luxuriated in their vans, Mark and Michelle had a pod and 2 actually camped in tents.

Saturday was dreary and drizzly so the plan was to walk up Eskdale where at least 3 swimming spots had been earmarked. Unfortunately the night time rain had put the river in spate and Tongue Pot, the best spot, was a bit of a raging torrent. We admired other people risking it, admired the impressive waterfalls and retreated back down the river by which time the rain had eased and the river was dropping noticeably. We found a suitable spot and launched ourselves in, negotiated the unseen boulders with a few bruises, climbed out, ran back up the bank and did it all again. No one was washed away. Water temp was a miserable 14°c but we hardly noticed as too busy avoiding getting washed away.. Back at the campsite the hot showers were very much appreciated.

An evening meal at the pub in Boot, just a few minutes walk from the campsite was enjoyed by 5 leaving the van dwellers to eat in the comfort of their mobile restaurants. They joined us all later. Lester left to catch the train home as there was no room at the youth hostel on Saturday night.

Sunday was much better but not sunny. We walked from the campsite again but up to the south side of the valley to Low Birker Tarn which was a lovely quiet place to swim (to be honest the Esk valley and river has become much too popular as seen by the crowds and the abandoned tents). Anyway we had our Tarn to ourselves where we nearly all got in, leave John to take some pictures. The water was much warmer at about 17°c but the air was cool with a slight breeze. Some went for a walk up to Green crag and some descended directly to the valley to look round Eskdale Mill which is now open to the public and prov d very interesting.

And so home along the busy motorway for some and more camping by the van dwellers at FRCC. Brackenclose. Sue Graham and Midge had swims in Wastwater to conclude the swim meet.

It was a long way to go but the scope for wild swimming is terrific. We must go again.


Virginia Castick

Meet Promo:

Camping at the National Trust campsite at the far end of Eskdale. As it will be busy in August, best to book in advance. There is an alternative site called Fisher ground further West in the valley which is bigger put will be busy in August. There are loads of interesting tarns to swim in both sides of the valley so there will be 2 days of swim walks. 

* climbing for those interested in doing so also an option!

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