A group of fellow wild swimmers from the Dales and I have started having informal and occasional meet ups after getting together via Facebook. We had a successful and fun (but rather windswept) meet up last weekend in a cave resurgance pool on the edge of the Dales not too far from Dent.
One of the gang (Les) had been on a course in the Lakes and had visited Rydal Hall and beck and intended to go back to have another look and try some of the pools he’d spotted. He asked via Facebook if anyone else fancied tagging along – we’d all seen his post from the previous visit and the pool he’d dipped in looked stunning with crystal clear water in the most spectacular setting, so there were soon several of us arranging a visit.
We’d arranged to meet up with Sara Barnes, a Lakeland swimmer who posts regularly in the Outdoor Swimming Society Facebook group about her exploits in Crummock water in the NW lakes, and she’d promised to bring some cakes as a welcome to the Lakes for us Dales Dippers. After we’d all arrived at Rydal, Les set off to “show” us the way through the woods to the pools he’d seen and dipped in… next thing we were in the middle of a field with camping pods and no stream… Plan B came into effect and we retraced our steps and started again, with a little navigational help from Johnny Hartnell, and went up the other side of the beck.
The walk up through the woods was wonderful and we passed several enticing spots as we progressed uphill and inspected each one in turn with a view to dipping them on the way back down. After about 10 minutes we arrived at the pool Les had tried the previous week and realized it was quite a scramble down some tree roots and a steep/greasy banking to get to the water. Given that it was the first of potentially 3 or 4 dips and I had been struggling with a bad back all week (I couldn’t put my own socks on 2 days earlier!!) I elected to sit it out rather than risk it all on the first swim. Johnny, Sara and Tess also weren’t too sure about the descent so we let Les and Alais do the honours.
The deep pool was hemmed in at one end by steep walls and a spectacular waterfall about 10 metres high with a massive boulder perched in the jaws of the fall. All the walls were moss clad and it was the most amazing place – one to go back to definitely!
We all set off back downhill to the next pool we had earmarked, Les and Alice trotting through the woodland in naught but cossies and towels…
Next in line was another deep pool behind a small retaining wall. The water in all the pools was the most spectacular crystal clear turquoise and looked so inviting despite it being December in the UK.
Everyone had a dip in this pool which felt really quite bracing (in other words chilly!) and we measured the water temperature with a selection of thermometers, getting results which varied between 4 and 7 degrees! The latter was Alais’s duck who is known to be a lying toe-rag so his reading was disregarded and we chose to accept a sub 5 degree estimate based on how it felt to us all. From here we all threw our dry-robes/changing towels on with jackets on top and troopsed bare legged downhill to the bottom pool we’d spotted on the way up… sadly we didn’t encounter any passing walkers at this point – I would have loved to see the look on their faces as 6 figures looking like monks paraded through the trees towards them! We had another quick dip in this small pool under a bridge (it wasn’t any warmer..) before dashing for dry clothes and warm drinks.. and CAKE! Sara got a cracking group selfie at this point where everyone managed to smile except your’s truly.
Our plans from here were a choice of either going down for a dip in Rydal Water itself or walking back uphill to Buckstones Jum (Jump?). We were all quite chilly and decided that an uphill walk would get the blood flowing and we could decide if we wanted a dip in it when we got there… Sara was a bit pushed for time so elected to set off for home at this point, so we said our Goodbyes and promised a rematch either at the Eel Pool (our regular haunt) or in the Lakes again. On the way back up through the woods we spied several more likely looking pools and waterfalls for a future visit, although some of them had quite severe sides and could be tricky to access… the photo below is one such BIG deep pool.
A bit higher up in the woods we came across yet another beautiful pool where two streams cascaded together just above an old stone bridge. If we can get down to it, this is definitely another one for the hit list.
I walked onto the bridge to get the photo above and as I peered over the parapet realized there were even more tall waterfalls immediately under the bridge itself. I didn’t get a photo sadly (it was quite gloomy) but showed the others on our way back down. We soon left the woods behind to walk towards the bowl formed by the Fairfield horseshoe ring of hills in which Buckstones sit.
Cresting a small rise (the one with the rocks on it at centre left of the photo above) we got our first glimpse of the delightful pool of Buckstones Jum with its bubbling small waterchute and impressive mountainous backdrop.
The view looking back down the valley and out towards Windermere was awesome.
Dithering about whether to swim once we got here or not was no longer an option – We had warmed up nicely after our 45 minute uphill plod and given how enticing the pool looked, we couldn’t wait to get in! My waterproof action camera battery had conked out by now so for the final section of my Youtube Vlog I had to subsequently “borrow” Les’s phone footage for this bit. Tess, who normally swims in a wetsuit, couldn’t face getting back into her damp suit so rather than missing out on a dip in such a fantastic spot, elected to brave the water in just a cossie and borrowed neoprene vest and coped fantastically well without resorting to too much swearing (that we could hear anyway).
All in all a fantastic day. Great location, great company, great cake and remarkably for the 10th December in the Lakes – great weather!