Over the years I have walked over the fell tops of the Lake District in all kinds of weather, I have often thought about taking a dip in a secluded tarn. After a long hard slog up one of the well worn paths, and across multiple, linking tracks in the hills, what could be better than taking a quick, relaxed dip. 

And yet, I have to admit, that until recently I have only occasionally put time aside to do this. It often seemed a distraction from the main focus of the day and the ambition of completing a long walk.

When my children were young we would find an odd stream to cool off in, on really hot days, or at least dip our toes. Without the gradual acclimatisation over the course of a season, the water always felt cold but exhilarating. I promised myself I would swim more in the hills but finding time was a different matter.

I know my grandparents and parents all swam in their local rivers and lakes, and as a child in Kendal we spent many summers in and around the water. Being able to swim well was something that was prioritised and my local club was brilliant.

Today, I see swimming in the Lake District as giving me a fresh perspective on a place that has always felt like home, no matter how far I have wandered. 

So, in December we trudged up  in the rain and cold from Dunmail Raise with bits of slippery ice and snow, and a raging beck for company. As we hit the crest of the hill, the wind kicked in and I wondered how a swim would feel. 

Grisedale Tarn was cloaked in mist, making it impossible to discern where it started and stopped and giving the illusion of rising vertically into the air. It was majestic and daunting at the same time and we laughed our way into the water, swimming only breaststroke and staying close to shore as it was too cold to put faces in. It didn't matter, the objective was to experience the elements full force, and to share a moment in nature together. The tea and sandwiches afterwards were all part of the ritual. 

I could only imagine the beauty of another day. A long summer's day, a picnic, a book and a leisurely swim with friends. It's not just the water, it's the smell of the hills, the views and the birds and wild-life we share this place with. 

But on this day in December, just the three of us, it wasn't a time for rolling out the picnic blanket. The water was biting cold, the wind was stirring and I was cautious about not over-staying our welcome. 

In the summer I will return, and I will remember this day and the beauty of the low light in the dead of winter and the quiet. I will bring my picnic and my book, and a few friends. I doubt we will be alone as we were on this day.