With summer long gone and autumn getting comfortable, winter is on the horizon but that does not mean one’s sense of adventure should get stored away waiting on warmer weather when it comes to the lakes, swimming, and hiking…
Ever heard of wild swimming? Are you familiar with it? - especially cold-water swimming - can have huge benefits. There are serious risks, but with good sense and preparation, you can experience one of the delights of the Lake District. You can swim in any of the lakes in the Lake District, except reservoirs and privately owned lakes. You can combine a good hike and a wild swim in one of the more remote mountain tarns.
One of the benefits is increased metabolism. Your body has to work hard just to stay warm, so it has to burn more calories. Another plus is that the sudden change in temperature results in the heart pumping more blood to the organs - leading to improved circulation. Toxins are more easily flushed out of the system, resulting in clearer skin and a healthy glow.
Because swimming is a repetitive, rhythmic motion, it can help to alleviate stress. The tingling or stinging sensation in the skin is combated by the body producing extra endorphins, which produce a feeling of well-being once you get out. The cold water stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your body relax and repair itself, promoting a feeling of calmness and relaxation, which should result in better sleep.
Just being out in nature, surrounded by beauty and tranquillity is a huge benefit - both mentally and physically.
A wetsuit can give a little extra buoyancy and some extra insulation. It can't perform miracles, though!
There are, however, serious risks. Know your limits. Make sure the area you're swimming in is safe. Be aware of the risks of hypothermia, especially in the winter months. Never drink or take drugs and swim. Never, ever swim alone. Don't jump into very cold water - enter slowly to prevent cold water shock. Most importantly, get out while you're still feeling good and enjoying the water - if you wait until you're tired or shivering, you're taking a very dangerous risk! Speak to people in the know to get advice.
It seems the benefits of wild swimming can outweigh the risks - if you're sensible and take the right precautions. And it's good to know you there will be a warm welcome waiting for you when you get back to Linthwaite House!