The cold autumn chills may put fair weather summer swimmers off venturing into the water, but for the dedicated swimmer this time of year is as good as any to visit the Lake District.
While others are sitting by the lakeside with a hot drink, others will put on their women’s thermal swimwear and boldly dive in.
However, while this is still a time to swim, there are some limits and it may be worth thinking about a few places that can be left off the swimming itinerary until summer.
A key consideration is altitude. When one adds in the tarns and various streams and rivers, there is a lot of choice of places to go for a dip. But now might be a good time to concentrate on lower spots.
For instance, in summer one might consider the highest of all the tarns, Broadcrag Tarn on Scafell Pike. Apart from the fact you can say you have swum in the highest ‘lake’ in England (it is described as such in the Guinness Book of Records), it could also help you cool off after a hot and sweaty ascent of England’s highest peak.
The problem with such mountain tarns is that getting up there in autumn and winter means they are more likely to be frozen, everything is colder, and it’s a long way to get down if anything goes wrong.
For that reason, it is best to pick some valley tarns. If you are in the Langdales, for example, leave behind Stickle Tarn and go for Blea Tarn or Little Langdale Tarn. Both are near roads in case there is a problem, so you can get to your car or seek help if you are very cold or have an injury.
Other low-lying tarns near roads include Kelly Hall Tarn near Torver, Loughrigg Tarn, Blelham Tarn and Tewet Tarn near Keswick.
All of these will provide great autumn swims while keeping you close to safety.