Lake District Swimhiking

A new and exciting sport in the Lake District known as swimhiking can be enjoyed by those seeking a new type of adventure holiday in the Lakes. This leisure sport, that combines hiking and swimming will guarantee the adventure seeker a new perspective of the Lake District not seen on the beaten track.


What is Swimhiking?


Swimhiking is simply the combination of hiking and wild swimming. A great way of keeping fit, wild swimming is a term used for swimming in wild places such as rivers, seas and lakes, as opposed to the domestic swimming pool. The Lakes being riddled with lakes, rivers and tarns, as well as walking routes, is an ideal place for swimhiking.


An Adventure Holiday in the Lakes

The idea of swimhiking came about when experienced wild swimmer, Peter Hayes begged the question why walk miles around a lake, when a hike could include a direct swim across it to the opposite shore, saving time and providing a fresh view of the Lakes. Furthermore, an otherwise inaccessible place, such as a lake island, could be explored. Hayes become so inspired by the idea, he wrote a book on swimhiking, informing the wannabe swimhiker on practical advice on wild swimming and the best swimhiking routes in the Lake District. His book, Swimhiking in the Lake District and North East England (Gilbert Knowle Publishers, 2008) is a must for the inexperienced swimhiker.
Novel Ideas for a Lake District Holiday
The hopeful wild swimmer must be a confident swimmer with a reasonable amount of fitness. The Lakes harbour surprisingly cold water, but once acclimatised, the wild swimmer will find the experience invigorating and exciting. A preliminary visit to the doctor might be wise if any health issues cause doubt. But the following tips on wild swimming in the Lake District will help make swimhiking an enjoyable experience

  • Plan the route meticulously. Ordinance Survey maps are the most accurate. A compass will prove invaluable if the swimhiker goes off course
  • A waterproof and watertight rucksack will ensure the walking clothes are kept dry during the wild swim. It is a good idea to pack a small towel, to dry off in before changing back into the walking gear. A spare plastic bag will come in useful to store the wet swimming gear
  • Floats or inflatable wings can be placed in the side pouches of the rucksack to help make the rucksack more buoyant and the wild swim a little easier
  • Always let someone know where the wild swim is to take place for safety reasons
  • Avoid wild swimming in adverse weather and thunderstorms, although wild swimming in rain is a pleasurable experience.
  • Be prepared for strong undercurrents in the Lakes, and to bring extra layers of clothing if the weather turns cold. Plenty of carbohydrates will keep energy levels up.

A Swimhiking Holiday in the Lakes


The trekker may enjoy a new type of holiday in the Lake District in the form of swimhiking. This combines walking and wild swimming. The Lakes is an ideal location for swimhiking, for its sheer number of lakes and tarns, and walking routes that can be incorporated into the swimhike. Wild swimming makes rain unimportant, since the swimhiker is already in the water. This could bode well if rain is likely. A more complete experience of the Lakes is likely to result if the wild swimmer is able to appreciate the surrounding fells from a new vantage point.
Photo credit, Nigel Davies