17/8/16 Well, what a fantastic day! Glorious sunshine and one of my favourite swims so far. Laura, Angela, Katy and I drove over to Loweswater, enjoying the stunning views over the fells in the hot, bright sun. We drove up Newlands Valley and down along the side of Crummock Water, deep blue water sparkling and dancing in the light.
We parked at the eastern end of the lake and sat in the car looking at the map and trying to decide the best route to take. We decided to walk along the south side and set off along a track passing through beautiful flower-filled meadows with lush green hedges interspersed with rowans laden with bright red berries. After a few minutes strolling along we caught our first glimpse of the water shimmering through the trees and soon came round a corner to a view right across Loweswater. It’s not a lake I know well at all, I think I’d only been here once before and I was really struck by how beautiful it looked on this bright, sunny day.
We made our way along the shore and found a little beachy area in the trees to swim from. I hadn’t brought my wet-shoes but actually it was one of the nicest entries into the water I’ve had so far, a bit stony but not painfully so. This was Laura’s first experience of lake swimming and despite saying on the way that she was a bit nervous she was the first one into the water and was swimming about like a natural before I’d managed to blow up my tow-float.
We were in the shadow of the trees as we got into the water but after a few meters we came out into the sunshine. And oh, how wonderful it was! The water was warm and lovely (20 degrees according to Archibald), the sun shone on our faces and the view was just breath-taking. The bright sunlight brought out the colours of the fells in all their glory, the greens and yellows of the grasses, the darker greens of the trees, the grey of the rocks and the purple of the heather just fully coming into bloom with the sparkling water surrounding us below and the pure, clear blue sky up above. I wish I could convey in words the feeling of being out there, right in the middle of the lake on such a beautiful day, surrounded by the fells. We all felt that it was something very special, but Laura, swimming in one of these lakes for the first time, was just blown away. She’s not been living up here very long and is only just starting to really explore the Lakes but I think after today she is feeling inspired to do much more – I hope so!
We swam right across the lake and Laura and I sat in the shallows on the far side, chatting and enjoying the warmth of the sun while Angela and Katy set off back to where we’d started. After a few minutes we followed them, swimming at a leisurely pace and taking in the overwhelming beauty of the view. We found, when we got back to the shore, that we weren’t quite ready to get out yet and even though we’d been in the water for about an hour by this point we still spent a few minutes just messing around in the water.
When we finally got out it was lovely to feel so warm that we could just stand around in our swimming stuff, getting dry at a leisurely pace even though we were in the shade of the trees. So many of my swims seem to end with a desperate scramble to get warm, dry clothes on over damp skin using numb fingers and shivering desperately, but none of that today! We strolled gently back to the car, got changed and headed back to Buttermere to see an exhibition of work by two local artists in the youth hostel. We left Angela in Buttermere and drove back over Honister Pass to show Laura a few more stunning views (oh, that purple heather!) and went up to Surprise View to look out over Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite Lake. It was about 6pm by this point but still very hot and so clear that you could see for a really long way.
Before heading home we stood at Surprise View, taking in the beauty of it all and talked about the emotional effect that such stunning scenery can have on you. It’s an amazing thing that whatever is going on in your life, whatever worries and problems you have, they can be made so much smaller by a day like today. The joy of experiencing that landscape in different ways, from the middle of a lake looking up to a high view point looking down, of feeling like you are really immersing yourself in it is something you have to experience to understand. As I stood there in the sunshine with two good friends, my hair still wet from the swim and looked out over one of my favourite views in the world I felt truly content. Yes. This is what it’s all about.