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Swimming outdoors makes my brain happy

August 20, 2012

When I first swam in a lake (Llyn Gwynant, Snowdonia) my mind was the most calm it has ever been. Surrounded by mountains, clear water and just the little sounds of birds, insects and water I felt part of nature. I still think back to that moment when my brain is feeling a bit too busy.

Spurred on by that, I signed up to do the Great North Swim in Windermere with my partner.
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I am a slow swimmer in a wetsuit and wanted to take it all in, so I happily swam at the back of my group, glancing up at the hills and the sunlight sparkling on the water. Another memory for those busy brain days.

After that we were hooked, and have done a few more open water swims since. Each one magical in a different way.

First was Pickmere, near Knutsford.

Pickmere - lake

A sparkling Mere just off the m56. The parish council frown upon swimming there but have admitted they technically can’t stop people as it is public land. This was a quiet leisurely swim. The best part, floating on our backs and looking at the clouds.

Then it was the lake at Wilderness festival.

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A small lake, long and narrow like a river,with creeping weeds that made it feel like the lake was alive. The first this year without wetsuits, intensely cold at first but soon warmed up. Again I swam alone, taking in the scenery and the feeling of the water on my skin, and the sunlight on my face. A welcome break from the stimulation of the festival (even though that itself was lovely and relaxing)

Last weekend we were in Oxford again for a wedding so decided to take our wetsuits with us and go swimming the day after.

After a heavy night drinking and dancing, and baking in the hot sun I needed a cold plunge in the river to wake me up!

Minster Lovell river

We found a little village called Minster Lovell, the ruins of the Minster right next to a river. The river was shallow enough to stand up in but deep enough to swim, which was lucky really as the current was fairly strong and after a lovely relaxing swim downstream I had to stand up in bits and walk back!

The water was so clear(despite it looking green in the picture, must have been the reflection of the trees) and weed free. Apart from some things which looked like giant spiders legs and were quite creepy slowly moving with the current.

We kept this one quite brief, was lovely to just float downstream and relax after a heavy night.

There were lots of other people around, having picnics, kids paddling in the shallow areas so I did feel quite silly walking past everyone in our wetsuits but it was so cold I’m glad we wore them!

So that’s it so far. Hopefully we will get a few more swims in before it gets too chilly. Next stop Hatchmere near Delamere. Might even fit a little forest wander into that trip too.

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