I have known Gary Dean for over twenty years, he runs a bike shop (GLG Cycles) very close to where I lived as a child. He has always been a great source of support, he is reliable and guaranteed to inject humour and practical jokes into almost any situation. Though at times he does have some crazy ideas. His dad, Stan, introduced me to the art of swearing in between words!
Gary and some of his long standing friends from school have been undertaking some physical challenges..walks, cycles etc in what I refer to as their mid life crisis.
Earlier this year I watched the Robson Green Wild Swimming show on TV which gave me the idea of swimming around Holy Island I made some enquiries with Ollie Jay who kayaked for Robson, it soon became apparent the swim was a non starter due to tidal influence and a lack of actual water to swim in. The idea of Gary and his posse swimming to and from Holy Island in similar fashion to Robson was also not possible due to the restrictions in place and protected environment of nesting birds. The seed however had been in Gary's fertile mind.
I had the perfect solution, a swim I was familiar with in spectacular surroundings, that being Ambleside YHA to Seamew Crag on Lake Windermere, a distance of around 900 metres each way. After consultation with his 'gang' a date was set for the GLG Seamew Crag Challenge. I agreed to accompany them as guide for the day.
So...the day after our visit to Keswick, I was returning to the Lake District. A slightly late pickup, introductions and much laughter as we crossed the A66 through cloud, rain and foreboding weather to arrive at an Ambleside blessed with pleasant dry conditions. The cars were parked and we quickly viewed the water and distances awaiting us. Dave was dispatched to collect/hire a rowing boat as the remainder (Gary, Andrew and Craig) donned their ill fitting wetsuits. My face was aching, my eyes were streaming and my sides were sore due to uncontrollable laughing. I honestly thought I was going to wet myself. You had to be there..
I tried to get serious for a moment in order to deliver a safety brief, we entered the glassy waters together and began the swim, I remained with the boys for around 200 metres with Dave as safety boat flag alpha included, then as agreed, swam on towards the intended destination. My swim was good, it was a little weird being out mid lake alone as passenger boats passed by. I reached the Crag, took in the magnificent views then returned across the lake to rejoin the others, accompanying them to the Island, we landed after 45 minutes of leisurely breast stroke, Gary in sunglasses refusing to get his face wet!