The Great North Swim

Next weekend sees the start of the 3-day Great North Swim. The Great North Swim will take place at Lake Windermere and swimmers will have the choice of swimming 0.5 mile, 1 mile or 2 miles of the cold, cold waters of England’s largest lake. The British Gas Great North Swim is touted by as ‘the UK’s greatest outdoor swimming event’.

The Great North Swim has taken place for some years now at Lake Windermere. It commences at Low Wood Bay, about three miles from Blenheim Lodge, which makes our guest house a convenient stopping point for guests taking part in this event, as transport is laid on from Bowness Bay to the starting point. In 2011, 10,000 people took part in the event. At present, the temperature in the lake is 16.2 Centigrade, so it is a wetsuit event only.

Most people who take part in The Great North Swim combine a day’s swimming with a weekend of enjoying the scenery and activities around the Lakes. One popular activity for energetic or intrepid guests is Go Ape, which offers ‘breathtaking scenery; smattering of tree-top wires, crossings [and] wind-in-your-face zip wires; finished off with a dose of people in search of their inner Tarzan’ ( Go Ape fun in the Lake District may be found at Grizedale Forest, just 20 minutes from our guest house, Blenheim Lodge, in Bowness-on-Windemere.

A different kind of activity called ghyll scrambling will also raise one’s adrenalin quite satisfactorily. According to, this is a great activity for a rainy day – I suppose, since one is going to get wet anyway! It is ‘an invigorating and challenging activity involving working your way up or down a gorge containing a tumbling mountain river. . . You can traverse along rock faces, hop across boulders, climb up waterfalls, slide down natural rock chutes and plunge from up to 8 metres into deep pools of water.’

The physical elements of the Lake District are all about water and spectacular scenery, so I suppose it is only fitting that one of the largest swimming events in the UK should be held at stunning Lake Windermere, which at 10.7 miles, is England’s largest natural body of water. At Blenheim Lodge, we are hosting some of the organisers and swimmers, all of whom will likely have an early start to their day. In the past, this swim has been held in September; however, the organisers have changed the dates to June this year to avoid the problem of harmful algae in the water.

The organisers offer tailor-made training to all swimmers, as participants must be confident in their ability to swim at least a mile in order to take part in this event. The motive for this event is certainly applaudable: ‘Great Swim’s aim is to motivate people of all swimming abilities to get active and enjoy the experience of outdoor swimming in a safe environment.’ So here’s hoping that all will have a wonderful experience taking part in the Great North Swim next weekend.

Lake and mountain view from Blenheim Lodge B&B

A fabulous landscape showcasing Lake Windermere to the mountains beyond from Blenheim Lodge Guest House in Bowness-on-Windermere.

‘Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’

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