70 – Loweswater, English Lake District

Snow is still melting down from the mountains, running in rivulets that our down the roads and submerge walking paths as the water levels in the lakes rise when we walk around Loweswater. A small lake, it draws us precisely because you can walk all the way round it. When in a land of lakes, I’m happiest when I can see that water – and find an opportunity to dip into it.

We find that spot beside a disused cabin on the forested side of the lake opposite to the road. It’s quiet, just a couple of dog walkers and the squirrels jumping from branch to branch, and when I see the rope swing dangling out over a perfect pebble-crescent bay, it feels like an invitation.

The water is bastard cold, and instantly leaves me reeling. But the sensation comes back as the stabbing abates and I wiggle my toes to check they’re still there and inch in deeper. I keep going till I submerge myself entirely. The water is black, the sky is grey. It’s March and the leaves haven’t quite found their colour again.

I try the rope swing, but it’s uncomfortable and awkward to get onto from the height of the water, so I give it up to return to the glorious icy cold. Mountains stand still and strong on the horizon. There are no sounds apart from the occasional call of a bird in a tree and the washing of the water as I move through it – not even the splashing of my feet, but the sound of the waters surface wobbling as something unexpected disturbs it.

I’m raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society. Please sponsor me at http://www.justgiving.com/swimbonnieswim

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