Up with the larks


I love my bed. I love my duvet. I need my sleep. However, one of the many things I’ve learnt since I started swimming outside is the benefit of hauling my lazy backside out of my snuggly duvet and heading out to do fun things whilst everyone else is in bed.

I’m currently in Keswick with my parents, brothers and their kids. A chance for us all to spend some time together to celebrate my parents golden wedding anniversary. It’s lovely, but as it’s a family holiday I don’t want to clear off for a whole day to walk or swim. I want to spend time with them and it’d be pretty unsociable too. So this morning I set my alarm for 6am and headed out for a walk. I was at the car park for Cat Bells by 7am and at the top of it by 8am. A quick brew at the top and a jaunt further along the ridge before I dropped down and headed back along the lower path back to the car.

I was back at the car by 10:30 and I didn’t see a soul until a few hundred metres away from the car park. The little car park was full by that time, people heading out at a more sociable time. I had a whole three hours of the fells to myself. Quite a feat on what is one of Lakeland’s busiest hills.

The weather wasn’t perfect, a bit of rain, sleet and hail and I hit the cloud at some points but wow, it was still just as beautiful. Sheer drops to either side, a view back towards a flat calm Derwent Water and the higher fells of Borrowdale the other way. A new dusting of snow had fallen on the higher peaks which occasionally poked out from the cloud.

The only sounds were the wind, birds and the occasional plop of rain or hail. Skylarks, blackbirds, woodpeckers, buzzards, crows, pheasant, geese and a myriad of other twitterings I can’t identify.

I’d done similar a couple of days ago to get a swim in. A walk through Keswick to the deserted ferry launch point for 7:30. Glassy water, blue sky, frost on the ground, flocks of geese waking up, a few nosey ducks and a pair of swans. Twenty minutes in the water in full head to toe neoprene. I swam out to Derwent Isle and back. Head in front crawl, the first I’ve managed since November last year. Finally a feeling of hope that we might, just might, be able to get out swimming properly again.

I had a brief chat mid swim with the guy in his boat heading over from Derwent Isle otherwise there was only the odd early morning runner out to witness me getting changed by the lakeshore. During the day it’s one of the busiest places in Keswick, thronging with people feeding the ducks, waiting for the ferry and heading off down the lakeside path. Not so at that hour. I was back at the house by 8:30 for a bowl of porridge. Everyone else had just got up.

For the girl that struggled to make lectures before midday at university it’s quite a surprise that I’m looking forward to 5am swims again!


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