I’ve been doing this challenge for about a year and a half now and for the whole time my mum, Deb, has been saying she’d love to come and swim with me – and yesterday she finally did. We met in Kendal and sat in the car looking at the maps for a little while. Outside the sky was grey, the rain was pouring down and it was cold. But Deb had come all the way from Derby to swim and we were determined to do it. We chose Beacon Tarn as our destination and set off, ready to face whatever the weather threw at us. As we drove along the A590 the rain really started to hammer down, lashing at the road in front of us, the other cars emerging from the grey haze of rain and soon being swallowed again.
We arrived at Water Yeat and pulled over on the side of the road and sat for a moment looking out at the rain. But we had come to swim, and we were determined. The path to the tarn was really lovely, passing through a gently rolling landscape covered with bracken just turning orange and brown and scattered with rowan trees laden with red berries and gorse still dotted with yellow flowers. A little way along we came cross a dilapidated farm, quiet and mysterious-looking in the pattering rain.
As we walked the rain slowly but surely started to die away and by the time we got to the tarn it had more or less stopped for which we were very grateful. Much as I love swimming in the rain, getting changed in the rain is a whole other matter and as it was about a half hour walk in to the tarn I didn’t really want to do it just in my swimming stuff.
My socks were so wet from the walk in that I decided I might as well wear them in the water to make getting in over the stones a bit easier. Deb had brought some sparkly sandals to wear on the basis that they would be easy to swim in and she didn’t mind if they got ruined, so our combined footwear was a little odd to say the least.
As ever, the first few steps into the water were very cold, but we had found the perfect little beach to get in at and it was actually a very easy entry. It started as a gentle slope with little pebbles under foot which then dropped off more steeply as it got deeper. I was surprised at how much difference just a pair of socks made in walking over the stones.
The water was lovely and clear and we had a very good swim. Beacon Tarn is really beautiful, such a great place to swim, set in a little dip in the gently undulating ground. We swam across to the far side and then turned back, meaning we spent about 20 minutes in the 15 degree water. Unfortunately for some reason I couldn’t get the camera lens to clear of water, so all the pictures in the tarn are a bit blurry!
By the time we got out of the water the clouds were really starting to clear and we even got a brief glimpse of blue sky. My trousers, however, were still soaking wet from the walk up, so getting dressed again was not a very pleasant experience. We were both pretty chilly by now, so we got dressed as quickly as we could and headed back down the path. Now that the weather was clearing the colours in the landscape came out even more and as we were going downhill we had a great view. By the time we got back to the car the sun was definitely starting to push through the clouds and as we drove back it started to shine gloriously down around us.
A really lovely swim and a day that just seemed to get better and better!
Deb’s story: Everything was a bit scary, from getting out of the car in the rain, to changing into swimming things on an exposed fell-side, to stepping into the cold tarn. But it was an experience like no other to be swimming in that dark expanse of water surrounded by beautiful fells with the sky moving and changing overhead. Wild swimming it was, wild and wonderful. I’d never have done it without Forest, thank you Forest!