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Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Wild swimming


I'm just back from North Yorkshire ... and guess what I have been up to? Initially the sole reason for the trip up north was to attend a Master Chef cooking class at Hazlewood Castle - an interesting prospect but surely not enthralling enough to justify a three day trip that would take me as far away from the Lido as that :) No!
But hey ... to my surprise and immense joy a very special person who knows me and my love for swimming only too well found out that within the Yorkshire Moors lay the amazing Gormire Lake. As you can imagine, as soon as I found out that we were heading for a lake as well as for the cooking class I was unstoppable. Getting out of London on saturday was a drag ... it took us close to two hours to get from Tooting to the M1 ... Nevertheless, our spirits were high and we reached York a mere 5 hours later. Exploring York was great - and before you wonder ... the answer is yes, we did walk down the "famous" Shambles!

However, nothing compares to our trip to the Yorkshire Moors and the downhill walk through the wonderful forest we took before reaching Gormire Lake! The weather was stunning - blue sky and not a cloud to be seen! Yes, it was cold which was to be expected after a frosty night but armed with my swimming cosy - which was the first bit of clothing I put on in the morning :) my heart was pumping hot blood all around my body in anticipation of what was to come.

I have always been in awe of nature but nothing could have prepare me for the beauty that lay in front of us when we reached the shores of the lake! We were greeted by the blazing sun and the wonderful glistering reflections it made on the water. The lake was surrounded by trees, some so close to the water's edge that one could sit on a brach and easily lower oneself into the water. The deep blue and clear water was simply calling my name out loud! I could have gone in there and then but we wanted to walk around the lake first ... to wet my appetite even more ... for my first ever Yorkshire wild swim!

The lake was stunning all around - parts of it was in the shade which meant that the layer of ice that covered it had not yet melted... But once we had come full circle and reached the sunny side again, there was no holding me back any longer! Off with the clothes, on with the cap and goggles (which proved a bit tricky as my hands were really cold by now from taking so many photos) and in I went! After a few strokes I soon realised that I had forgotten to put my ear plugs in :) so back to shore I swam .. got my ear plugs and in again! Wow how amazing ! Cold yes .. no colder than what we are presently used to at the Lido and my guess is that the water must have been close to 3 Celsius. Oh how I would have loved to swim all the way to the other side ... however, my better judgement told me otherwise .. no other cold water swimmer in sight to "rescue" me :)and no sauna to warm me ..:) so, I sensibly swam about a Lido width out before heading back. Invigorated by my wild swim I got back into my clothes (with difficulties as my hands were numb!)

What was interesting was that it was only after speaking with a guy back up at the car park once I had done my wild swim that I we were told that Gormire Lake is actually featured in Daniel Start's book "Wild Swimming" and that people do swim there ... in the summer!

And the master chef cooking class experience? well, all together a totally different cup of tea and good for a cooking blog which I may have to start at the end of this year's cold water swimming season!

The stunning Lake Gormire near Thirsk in the Yorkshire Moors

we walked around the entire lake - and were rewarded with stunning views

After walking around the lake and coming full circle it was time to get in ...

... a step at a time .. and ...

... all the way :)

Yes the water was cold :) ... a small area of the lake (which the sun hadn't reached) was covered with a layer of ice


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