Ullswater

Updated: Mar 1

6:30am.

Framed by the old wooden sash windows that reach floor to ceiling, the view of the lake from our room is silent, still and stunningly beautiful.

Pale amber silvery light, bleeds through the cloud and reflects across the dark water. Only the sound of chirping bird call breaks the silence of early morning.

Ullswater lies flat and dark. Reflections of large oak and beech trees edge it’s banks. The monumental hill of Arthur’s Pike rises steeply from the waters edge, as if pinched up from clay.

The lake calls to every part of me. The skin seeks to feel it’s cool softness, the heart wants to absorb the stillness, peace and natural life around me and the mind yearns to know that feeling of wellness that starting the day with a free and wild swim brings.

8:30am

I’m booked onto a swim across the lake, a distance of one mile. The expertise of guide Colin Hill will provide route and technique advise.

I am not phased by the temperature, a tropical 18° but the darkness of the lake may cause those demons of the imagination to emerge.

No need to worry though, my months of swimming in weed and deep seawater stands me in good stead. As we leave the rocky shoreline “Skellies”, small fish found only in Ullswater, dart around my legs.

The water is a dark, peaty, mossy green colour with nothing to see except the bubbles from my breath. In contrast to the nothingness, as I raise my head to the side to breathe, the world is split in two. The deep dark below and the soaring landscape above. The hills and peaks tower majestically, riven with deep valleys, their craggy sides rise almost vertically as they reach toward the sky.

It’s a different swim from those at home. I am concentrating on technique, breath and stroke. I realise just how much of my swimming around Bryher is taken up with watching the sea life around me.

A slight need to compare myself to those that swim further or faster than me begins to creep into my mind. I squash it. Wild swimming is not about distance, power or style. It is about enjoying, feeling, experiencing the wild waters. It’s about mindfulness and headspace and living in the moment. Someone once said, don’t believe in the wisdom of children, nor in the wisdom of the old. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.

I swam across Ullswater, got the certificate and earnt my cooked breakfast, but I also learnt alittle bit more about me and why I love to swim.

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