5/100 – Buttermere 

Buttermere was a special swim because I dragged Liam in with me too. It’s a great Lake because you can walk right round it and there are lots of sheltered spots on the shore to swim from.

We walk up one side and back again as the light is fading, but on the way to the car we scramble down to a stoney cove just below the raised path. When we are standing ankle deep, Liam’s wondering why he let me talk him into this, but all credit to him he follows me in. We count to three and push off together, with lots of shouts as the cold forces the air out of our windpipes. There’s a low breeze and the water is flowing one direction, so we strike upstream against it and out toward the middle.

No one walks by. All around us the night is deepening and the water is darkening with it. Across the lake we can see the bare path where the round-lake track punctuates the trees. Above our rucksack and clothes on the bank, the trees dip their branches low creating a leafy ceiling. We are further out than that now and the sky overhead is grey-white and boundless.

Liam doesn’t think he’s ever been this cold and when I ask if he’s glad he’s done it, he says to ask him again when he’s warm. We paddle back and forward taking in the surroundings. Hills encircle us and the water is black and silver in swirls and circles, always moving shapes that decorate the surface. When we get out it’s getting dark and the lights from the footpath are sparkling on the water.

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