Highlights from Chillswim 2014

Ben Berry after his 450m swim

Ben Berry after his 450m swim

The cold water does phenomenal things to your body and I certainly felt it as my bottom lip went numb after around 60 metres of my 450 metre event. Trawling the lake with my bottom lip as I powered through the cold gave me time to not only taste the finest water in the Lake District but to think about how wonderful this event is.

The reason I was in the Lake, wearing far too little and at its coldest time of year, was because I was having a whale of a time at the second Chill Swim event, hosted by Low Wood Bay. The event doubled in size with this year attracting 570 swimmers including the Estonian ice swimming champion that I was competing against, the Lake District National Park relay team and people dressed as smurfs in a 30 metre “Penguin Dip”.

Of course, getting cold is only half the story and the reasons for jumping in differ greatly between competitors. Hundreds of people raised money for charity; swimming teams from across the UK and the world entered just for the friendly competition; and people like myself did it simply for the fun. Regardless of the reasons for entering I am certain everyone had a massive amount of enjoyment – the camaraderie, atmosphere, awesome venue and warmth of the day more than displaced any short lived cold.

Was doing an endurance race hard? Yes. Would I do it again? Without a doubt! Continue reading

3 Essentials to remember when winter walking in the Lake District

Keen fell-walker Tim Bell, explains why there’s plenty to consider before heading up the Lake District Mountains this winter.

Personally, I’ve always preferred the colder months for heading up into the Cumbrian fells. My friends and family still look at me in a baffled way when, on a cold, bleak winters morning, I’m up before the day breaks, preparing a big flask of soup, before heading out the door with the courteous “see you later, I’m off for a walk”. As I close the front door behind me, the inevitable “OK, But Be Careful” advice is offered emphatically from upstairs.

Snow Topped Lake District Fells

Snow Topped Lake District Fells

And “Careful” I will be. For I know all too well the dangers that those picture-perfect, snow-capped mountains can hide. They might be beautiful and hugely alluring with a crisp, white coat, but head into them without the right preparation and your day might not turn out as planned!

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not my intention to paint a picture of danger and inevitable doom. By following a few simple pointers, you can achieve the right balance of a safe and rewarding day out in the fells. Continue reading

Hundreds set to take part in Big Chill Swim at Low Wood Bay

Over 570 hardy swimmers from around the world will be braving the icy waters of Low Wood Bay Marina, Windermere this weekend for the 2014 Big Chill Swim.

Dive in to the chilly waters

Diving in to the chilly waters of Windermere

The swimmers are not allowed to wear wetsuits and will race over distances of 30, 50 and 450 metres, enduring water temperatures of below 5 degrees. There will also be relay races, and a 1000 metre extreme event for very experienced cold water swimmers. Continue reading

Holiday Book Review: Felltarn Friends – fun for all the family!

How many of us have dreamed of writing and publishing a children’s book? Me, for one!

Now tell me, how many of us have actually achieved it? Sadly, I’m sure like many others, not me! However, meet two plucky women from Cumbria who had that dream and in December 2013 picked up the proof that the dream had become a reality.

Claire Mansfield and Amy Onyango are the creators of Felltarn Friends, a children’s activity book that will keep younger members of the family amused for hours on end and, I predict, will be ‘best friend’ to all visiting families to The Lake District who come across this little gem.

The dream becomes a reality. Amy and Claire with their newly published book

The dream becomes a reality. Amy and Claire with their newly published book

Cleverly crafted and beautifully illustrated, this 96-page book is literally packed with things to learn, craft and colour and discover. Claire and Amy have meticulously researched activities and family days out in the area, ably assisted by their children aged between 2 and 10. Continue reading

iPad Art – accessible to all!

Nevil Jeffery, General Manager at Low Wood Bay has recently caught the Art bug, inspired to create digital art after meeting the iArt master J.A.C…

Twelve months ago I came across the guru of the “dark side” of iArt, Joseph Connor (J.A.C.) founder of #seensend. I love the concept – encouraging people to get out and about and capture an image on a mobile device. Once the image gets the J.A.C. stamp of approval, he rewards the photographer with a piece of art created on his iPad.

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Children creating art at Artober

Children creating art at Artober

Sophia Newton, owner of the Loovre Gallery in Kirkby Lonsdale and founder of annual Artober festival embraced this new art medium and invited Joseph to attend the week long, interactive art exhibition at Low Wood Bay. This radical but simple method of producing art provides an accessible, affordable medium which appeals to all age-groups. Let’s face it, taking a hand-held electronic tablet into the great outdoors is a little more practical than a large canvas! Continue reading

Tour of Britain … close to the action!

Chris Chapman Tour of Britain Competition winner

Chris Chapman Tour of Britain Competition winner

The following guest blog was written by Chris Chapman a competition winner who won a 2 night break a Low Wood Bay and  the opportunity to follow the race in one of the official Tour of Britain Race cars as the race passed through Cumbria in September.

Monday morning early and I’m in the car travelling across the fells to Carlisle.  The riders are signing on as I arrive.  This is where my involvement with the race would normally end but today is different.  Thanks to my competition prize I am a passenger in one of the official cars leading out the riders through the streets of Carlisle.  Then we head out towards the west; police motorcyclists zooming ahead to control the traffic, team cars with racks of bikes on their roofs, cameramen on motorbikes, all part of the cavalcade.

Then the rain started; driving soaking rain with a whipping wind off the sea.  Did it deter the spectators? No chance!  Full marks to the people of Cumbria for turning out in their thousands to cheer on the cyclists.  Such enthusiasm – even a passenger like me in the official car got the treatment, and my arms got tired with waving to cheering crowds as if I was royalty.  The school children were out in force; from the tiny tots in their matching hi-viz vests, smiling and waving, right through to the senior pupils, enjoying the occasion and undaunted by the driving rain.  Continue reading

Low Wood Bay are OnBoard

The OnBoard scheme was originally set up by the RYA, with the official aim of introducing half a million children to sailing and windsurfing within a ten-year period. At Low Wood Bay Watersports we have been a part of the scheme and running our OnBoard sailing evenings for the last four years.

We started by offering six children from The Lakes School a ‘learn to sail’ course over six Wednesday evenings. On completion of the course the young people were then eligible to join the official OnBoard club on Friday evenings. Right from the start the scheme was a great success to the point where we have many more youths wanting to sail than boats to put them in!

Another successful OnBoard season draws to a close at Low Wood Watersports Centre

Another successful OnBoard season draws to a close at Low Wood Watersports Centre

“I think sailing at Low Wood is fun – we really enjoy ourselves. Sometime we get the responsibility of handling the boat on our own which I really like”. Louis

Sailing and windsurfing provide a wide range of educational, personal and health benefits. Not only do the young people gain knowledge of fitness and health, but it develops their personal and social communications skills. They learn to apply specific skills and tactics and manage risk and have an adventure within a safe environment. All this, and barrels of fun that they enjoy individually and as a group!

Gary Lanigan who runs the Low Wood Watersports OnBoard scheme said, “It is priviledge to take the young people on the water and watch them develop new skills that will remain with them for the rest of their life.”

The OnBoard crew enjoying the freedom of Lake Windermere

The OnBoard crew enjoying the freedom of Lake Windermere

“I really like sailing at the Low Wood – its fun and I have learnt how to sail a Pico on my own. It’s great because we get to capsize safely! We get to have fun with lots of new people”. Luca