Hiking and swimming adventures [ad]

Learning to swim is a slow process. Perfecting techniques, ploughing across a pool. Progressing to swimming competitively. Monotony, up and down. Up and down. Then, a discovery. Swimming as an adventure. Getting from A to B. Combine it with walking or running and a whole new world opens up.

Swimming to a destination

I’ve been open water swimming regularly for nearly two years now but there came a point last summer when something changed. We realised that there was a lovely farm shop just under a mile down river from where we swam. We could probably get in there and have a dip, then get some breakfast at the cafe. But there was an alternative, we could get in where we usually did, and swim to the farm shop.

We checked entry and exit points, it looked quite straightforward. So, we set off. The first time was nerve racking, what would we encounter? Would we be able to get out where we wanted to, would anybody challenge us? Soon though, it became routine. The people at the cafe knew us and smiled at us walking in, dishevelled and shivering. Swimming to a destination became possible. It became an adventure.

Hiking and swimming

The next step from swimming from A to B is to travel further. To do this, we’ll need to add in hiking or running. For a real challenge, I’d like to plan out a route that I can run and swim. Realistically though, that would be a one-off. It will take a lot of training and planning. Deciding what kit to pack, making sure we have enough food or knowing of places to eat that don’t mind us being rather dirty and smelly.

Hiking is much more accessible. We need hardly any equipment, the only essential is a pair of lightweight hiking boots that are small enough to fit in a tow float. Dry robes are out, replaced by travel towels. Clothing will need to be minimal, yet warm enough to replace the body heat we lose from a swim. A mobile phone is essential, and a card to buy food. There’s nothing quite like swimming in cold water to build up an appetite.

I’ve always liked the idea of swimming and walking the length of the lake district. It’s a long way, so it would have to be split over a couple of days and we probably couldn’t swim the whole length of each lake. But that’s fine. It would be a slow adventure, with plenty of time to admire the beautiful scenery and enjoy the sensation of every cold dip. A few days away from the daily grind to recharge and be in touch with nature.

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