The 3 Lakes Challenge – Part II – Windermere

On finishing Loch Awe, and getting a good meal on board, the team piled into the 17-seater minibus, and Roger drove us south.  Each swimmer had a row of seats in the back of the minibus, padded out with bags and things, to try and fashion a bed each.

Luckily, I have always been great at sleeping while on the move, so went straight off as we made our way towards Windermere.  I think it took us 5 hours or so, with a couple of comfort breaks for everyone and the dog, during which time the weather closed in.  Heavy rain.

It was still dark when we arrived at Fell foot, the southern starting point of our second swim, so I went back off to sleep for another couple of hours, while thunder and lightning crashed around us.

At about 5 in the morning people started moving, getting what breakfast they could on board, before Tors arrived with the electric boat from the pick up point in distant Bowness.  She arrived about 1/2 an hour later motoring down out of the mist and gloom, and mooring up at Fell Foot.

Here is a photo taken of the team at about this time.  Everyone looking a little brown around the edges after a night on the road….

Forced smiles at 5:30 AM

Forced smiles at 5:30 AM

As the swimmer in the water at the finish of the previous lake, I was the one to start the next leg, albeit for only a 12 minute spell, handing over to Debbie.  I got changed into my wet swimmers, and made my way to the stone archway at Fell Foot, preparing myself for a swim I was really NOT feeling the love for in any way.

Love for swimming, wherefore art thou?

Love for swimming, wherefore art thou?

I swam up through the moored boats, and was soon joined by the others on the boat.  The water felt wonderful; it is always amazing how water has the power to restore when you are feeling a little jaded.  The records show that the temperature was up around 18C.

While the rain had stopped, it was still heavily overcast, and sheet lightning was still visible in the west.

It was quickly time for me to get out, and for Debbie to take over. Soon after getting in, the rain came back, light at first, then heavy.  Luckily we had hired a boat with covers, which we pulled over to protect us from the deluge.  If we had had weather like this on Loch Awe, we would have all got soaked.

Debbie was having a whale of a time swimming in the torrential rain, though we did feel a little sorry for her, isolated in the water while we all cowered inside the little boat.

Classic Lakeland Weather

Classic Lakeland Weather

We started to feel more than a little sorry for her when the sheet lightning started up rather closer to the boat.  This was a slightly sketchy moment.  What if the lightning was in danger of hitting the swimmer?  This was a scenario we hadn’t planned for.  Nothing in our stated rules allowed for this.  If Debbie had to be pulled out of the water, that was game over once again.  Fortunately, the lightning didn’t hang around too long, and by the end of Debbie’s hour, the rain had gone away too.  While it was by no means sunny, we were back on track with the swimming and the takeovers, all enjoying mirror conditions as we headed north towards Ambleside.

Helen L replaced Debbie, swimming nicely up the eastern shore, before Sam jumped in to take us past Storr’s Temple.

Sam - heading towards the ferry

Sam – heading towards the ferry

As we neared the ferry, Sam was replaced by Helen, who shot through the ferry line without needing to stop, and up past Belle Isle, shooting the lilies and arrowing north.

Helen on the charge

Helen on the charge

I jumped in with about 3 miles to go, expecting to soon cross the lake.  I got a bit confused when we never did.  It turned out that the lake got really busy at that point, with pleasure craft, kayaks, a waterskier, and various ferries plying the lake.  The team made the decision that we didn’t want to do a takeover in the middle of the lake.  Despite the boat and the flag alpha, it was too much of a risk, so Debbie jumped in for her second swim of the day, with around a mile to go, crossing over from the west side to around Low Wood Marina.

At the beach at Ambleside

At the beach at Ambleside

Debbie in the last mile

Debbie in the last mile

After 5 hours and 53 minutes, Debbie landed it at Ambleside, we had succeeded in completing the 10.5 miles of the second lake.  All swimmers swam a full hour, with Debbie and I topping and tailing at either end.  The temperature went up from 18C to 20C during the swim, conditions were nigh on perfect, other than the lightning of course!  Again, we completed the swim in good time, with strong swimming all round.  Nice work team!

The one thing we had struggled with was getting swimmers out of the water after their stints.  The rope ladder we had taken with us was by no means as good as the solid ladder we had on Loch Awe.  There was a good deal of grunting and swearing, as swimmers were part hauled out of the water!

We waved good bye to Tors, who had met us at the end, and was taking the boat back for us (Thank you Tors for helping us out so generously), while we all piled back into the minibus, for the drive to Wales.  Surely that was the hard bit done right? Little lake Bala at only 4 miles long couldn’t trip us up could it……..?

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