We had been planning this challenge since staying in the National Trust bothy at Loweswater in January, when the dark water was so cold that only a dip would do. By walking between Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater, we plotted a warm weather swimming route that would be challenging for the three of us but could be done in a day, and could be linked by easy walking. The idea of swimming the length of Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater in a day was born.
By May we were in to deep logistics, debating what kit, food and transport to take. And on a Friday evening in a warm spell of weather, we did final checks on the wind, weather and water conditions for the Saturday as we gathered at my house in Kendal, ready for an early start. We decided to take a Ruckraft carrying drinks and food as well as some clothes, with the two other swimmers, Jenni and Jo, taking a tow-float each. We parked a car at one end of Buttermere and the other at the top end of Loweswater.
By 9.30am we were in the water, at the white cottage on the shore of Buttermere to start the first full length swim in fantastic swim conditions, hardly any wind and lots of sun. Sheltered by the trees, I always think Buttermere has an alpine feel about it, and although it is close to the road with good access, you feel miles away from anywhere once you are in the water.
After a short rest and refreshments, we walked over to Crummock Water via the National Trust carpark, following tracks through the Bluebell woods to the shore. We decided to swim the length road-side, but as it's such a large body of water, you soon feel lost in its wide expanse. The swim conditions felt very different here, as soon as we rounded a little headland, next to a quiet bay, the wind hit us and the water started to look choppy. The Ruckraft, which I generally feel is a solid piece of kit, started to feel heavy against the push of the wind as I pulled it along. It was hard to find the rhythm of my stroke and my pace slowed considerably. I decided to stay reasonably close to shore, which then extended the route, as I kept sighting the line of trees at the northern end of the water, which didn't seem to get any closer. But I've learned with these long swims, like a long walk, it is one step or one stroke at a time - and you get there in the end. And we did, just as we approached the Lanthwaite woods, the wind dropped and we passed the welcoming boathouse in perfectly calm conditions.
By this time, it was 5pm, and thoughts turned to dinner at the Kirkstile Inn, as we delved into dry bags for Snickers bars and Double Deckers, to keep us going. We took old tracks to Loweswater, breathing in the smell of cooking as we passed the Kirkstile and headed for the shore of Loweswater. By around 6.30pm, we were in Loweswater having carefully checked the safest passage up to the top of the lake. It was a beautiful evening, an easy, slow swim, with a final sprint to the finish, just for fun. By 8.30pm, we were in the Kirkstile Inn, with the staff kindly keeping the kitchen open for us!
A brilliant swim challenge - the Buttermere Trilogy of 3 lakes in a day. It's so good, I may do it again next year.