Birthday swimming in the Lake District

There is nothing I enjoy more than wild swimming with my sister. That’s why I chose swimming together as the way to spend my 26th birthday last month. I headed up to the Lake District where she is currently living, carrying a swimming costume and towel stuffed in my bag and an eagerness to get into the water.

She lives in Keswick just a few minutes’ walk from Derwentwater. I envy this closeness to water – when I visit I love spotting signs that point ‘To the Lake’ and knowing that we are never far away from an opportunity to swim. It calms me, knowing the lake is there should we feel we need to plunge into cold water.

We spent the two days walking, canoeing and, of course, swimming. Together with my friend Kim who had joined us for the weekend, we canoed the length of Derwentwater, stopping every now and then to let our paddles rest on the surface and simply admire the beauty around us. The birds landing on the lake, the boathouses tucked among trees and the green weeds beneath the surface of the perfectly clear water.

Once we reached the end of the lake we dragged the canoe up onto a pebbly beach that we had entirely to ourselves and ate our sandwiches, feeling very Swallows and Amazons. And then it was time to swim. I increasingly believe you haven’t really lived unless you have tried wild swimming. For me there is nothing that matches the joy it brings, that feeling of being completely alive and free.

On our way back we stopped at an island in the lake and swam again, unable to resist the call of the water.

The next day we swapped the lake for a river, walking through fields alongside its bank until Keswick felt far behind us and we stopped at a secluded spot. We picnicked on the pebbles and then ran into the river, floating and swimming and drifting with the current. Sometimes wild swimming is about swimming, but often it is just about being in the water. The feeling of the cold on your skin and the sun on your face.

It felt the perfect way to spend my birthday. This past year has been a whirlwind for me: getting the publishing deal for The Lido, quitting my job and getting stuck in to my second book. It has been wonderful, but also at times overwhelming. Getting into the water with my sister is a way to pause and reflect on everything that has happened but also to take a moment to just be. I already can’t wait to get back into the water together.

6 thoughts on “Birthday swimming in the Lake District

  1. Mark Proudfoot says:

    Hi Libby, i haven’t read a book from start to finsih for nearly 5 years (lost the passion), but for birthday my wife asked me to choose a book for one of my presents, after much browsing & peeking inside the front cover reviews, i chose yours & am so glad i did….wonderful characters & a beautifully bitter-sweet storyline.

    I saved it until we took a short break at Beccles in Suffolk. Coincidently Beccles has a lido, unfortunately it wasn’t open this week, but the next time we visit i’ll pack my swimming trunks & go in search of a Rosemary and/or Kate!!

    Thank you for reigniting my appetite for book reading & perhaps a new found zest for outdoor swimming!…..i can’t wait to read the cafe that never sleeps
    take care,

    • libbyap says:

      Hi Mark,
      Thank you SO much for this lovely comment – it has made my day! I’m just delighted to hear you enjoyed the book and that it got you back into reading, that is just the best thing to hear! Thanks again for reading and for taking the time to reach out!

  2. Pamela Gibson says:

    Libby, I just finished your book and just want to tell you that I kept slowing down the further I got into it because I DID NOT WANT IT TO END!!! I loved the characters and the neighborhood setting. Thank you for sharing your talent with us. And I certainly hope there will be many more to come!

    Blessings in the new year, Pam

    • libbyap says:

      Hi Pamela, thanks so much for this message! I’m so pleased you enjoyed my book – thank you so much for reading. And I certainly hope there will be more books! My second is out next year! Happy new year to you too, Libby x

  3. A quiet life says:

    Reading your book now, very much enjoying it, seeing this page puts a huge smile on my face, your pure bliss shines through. Congrats on your success~

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