No cycling this weekend… but we did make up for it by swimming over 8 miles in the Lake District 🙂
All the advice we’ve had said we needed to do at least one swim over three hours, so we decided that we would do two end-to-end-and-back swims in a weekend and despite the dreadful weather we managed about 5 hours swimming and had a great time! We were very lucky to find an Open Water Swimming shop – Head to the Hills – entirely by accident next to our B&B in Ambleside. I persuaded Alice that she really did need a wetsuit to spend over 3 hours in water below 17 degrees. Even she ended up being grateful for the added warmth which made all the difference – we’d never have completed the mileage without it!
Saturday was Buttermere (about 3 miles) and was actually a pretty enjoyable experience – we were apprehensive about our first proper lake swim – and although our boat support did their best, we certainly missed Borut’s calm reassurance (from Strel Swimming Adventures)!
We set a very leisurely pace and probably because of this – I was surprised how much I enjoyed the swim. The scenery was absolutely breath-taking in every direction which meant I kept wanting to look up, but for the first time I did manage to get into a reasonable rhythm and actually just began to enjoy the experience – I couldn’t believe how easy it felt! However, (maybe because she thought things were going too smoothly!) Alice made the mistake of removing her wetsuits half way… and ended up nearly blue by the time we’d finished!! It was a valuable lesson to learn before attempting Windermere! Luckily the Croft House Farm Cafe supplied us with copious quantities of “ButterBeer”, a drink I thought only existed in the pages of Harry Potter, but turned out to be a delicious concoction of warm milk, butterscotch syrup (apparently from a secret recipe) cream and marshmallows! It was absolutely what we wanted with our yummy sandwiches we’d brought from The Apple Pie shop in Ambleside!!
As we emerged from the cafe the clouds cleared and we enjoyed the beautiful scenery before celebrating in style with more conventional ale, pie and the most competitive game of Jenga I’ve ever played at the nearby Langstrath Inn 🙂
Sunday at Crummock Water was a little harder… the Weather was worse, the swim was longer and we were already tired, but we (or more realistically our support team – You were amazing guys!!) were committed to at least making a start. We rented a boat from the Wood House, where the owner was distinctly unhelpful, although he did reluctantly provide us with a mop bucket to bail out the water! Getting in was not very appealing, but the promise of a second round of ButterBeer kept us going – we set ourselves a target, if we completed the end-to-end and back in over 3.5 hours we would have to forgo the cakes and drinks – it was clearly sufficient motivation as we completed the five miles in just over 3hrs 15mins! The last hour or so was difficult, my arms were tired and felt a bit like jelly, but we were in a good rhythm again and our wonderful support crew made all the difference – stopping us like clockwork every 20 minutes for isotonic water, jelly babies and carbohydrate gels. Actually given how rubbish our boat was, they probably had a tougher time of it that we did. Alice admitted that she kept herself going by dreaming up new cake recipes… I’m hoping she’ll start making some of them! They sounded unusual but yummy… hopefully I can post some photos soon!
Now that we are back it seems like a bit of a dream. About this time last year a great family friend took us on a wonderful tour around the lakes, and if he’d suggested then as we drove past Crummock water, that just a year later we’d be swimming it both of us would have thought he’d developed a severe case of dementia!! Amazingly though, the fact that we struggled initially with open water swimming makes these little achievements all the more rewarding! We did imagine Daddy looking down on us and felt sure he’d have approved – he always was a massive Water Baby!! We drove home feeling like we’d really made a breakthrough and Windermere might just be achievable after all! Although it was a little disconcerting when we stopped to have look at the longest lake in England and realised that from our viewpoint neither end of the lake was within sight!
Oh well… I guess we’ll just have to take it 20 minutes at a time!! Amazingly we’re actually beginning to look forward to the challenge 🙂