We arrived bang on half past nine and parked at roadside in the pouring rain. There was no sign of Gary and his posse? preparing a cups of tea, we both questioned whose bright idea this had been? the skies were grey, the rain fell constantly with an air temperature around 10 degrees, we sat in the car wondering if the others had actually decided not to bother. We had no signal on our mobiles as a result of which we had no way of communicating. We resigned ourselves to getting cold and driving back home if the artists didn't arrive in the next hour.
Just as hope was fading Gary's car flashed by, I sounded the horn, he screeched to a halt and jumped out... that was it....the laughter began, he was already kitted out in his ill fitting wetsuit, cycling hat and shades (it was pouring down) I was creased up, they had been parked a few hundred metres away and were thinking the same as us. Off they went to park a car at the North End of the lake returning to escort us to their seedy hide away.
We were soon stripped for action, the new kayak purchased by Gary was inflated, off we headed to the start, a slight trespass over private farmland, over a stream to the slate shoreline of the start, I carried the kids across the stream, the water felt freezing, my legs were numb within moments. Oh dear was this going to be a bridge too far?
We took photographs pre swim, noted Craig's duct tape securing his wetsuit around the waist and legs (I kid you not...check the photo!!) I then briefed the swimmers, KGB, Andrew, Craig, Gary and Dave our faithful boat support. The faces looked somewhat more serious than at at the Seamew Crag Challenge, was this worries or was it men trying to look cool in the presence of a girl. Afterall there had already been some suggestions after Gary zipped up KGBs wetsuit....ahem. Yes, that was noted gentlemen.
The shrieks and screams could be heard for miles around as water entry was tentatively negotiated, I walked further east to set Charlie and Lottie on their exploration walk of the lakeside path with strict instructions to stay in sight..then I was off, good grief this felt way cooler than my Windermere swim, was it down to my lack of exposure to cold water recently or was it really that cold. I breast stroked through the shallow water getting to grips with my breathing, the rest of the gang were well on the way as we all headed towards the re group point. I could hear Dave, Craig and Gary laughing from the word go.
Once I adjusted the water felt OK, my watch was reading 55F about 12.5C, by now I was swimming front crawl breathing to the right trying to spot the kids as we headed North, stopping occasionally to confirm their location and well being, I was soon disturbed to see they had stopped and had been still for some time. I was signalling for them to move on but was unable to hear what they were shouting. I had no option than to swim to shore, remove my ear plugs and asses the problem. Standing in the waist deep water, both kids explained they were being watched and were frighted to move...What!? was I hearing correctly, we were in the middle of nowhere, then I saw it, as they shouted "UP THERE..THE SCARY SHEEP!!" I could see a sheep complete with large horns watching over his pasture....reassurance soon won over the kids as the dashed to safety, laughing and looking over their shoulders..its was quite funny.
I swam on to see the re group agreement had been abandoned, so much for my briefing! the swimmers had split into two groups, Andrew and Kelly were doing well swimming front crawl, with Craig and Gary leisurely head up breast stroking, taking in the scenery, accompanied by Dave. I swam the 2km to the end of the Lake to be greeted by the kids who were keen to tell stories of their adventure, soon I was joined by KGB, she looked frozen though she had done really well to swim this far more or less alone.