Wild swimming in Wast Water
There were a few villages I wanted to scout out in the Western Lake District.
Armed with screen shots of rightmove, airbnb and tripadvisor pages - because signal is pretty infrequent - we crept through hamlets "reverse back - reverse back - this one's up for auction" we 3-point turned on single lane tracks "that one's a holiday let" we sat in traffic "so.many.sheep."
Leaving Nether Wastdale, a small village at the foot of the lake, I watched the Woodlands to both sides of me "I can't talk right now, I've got to think" we sat in silence, both thinking strategies, motives, facilitation, investment opportunities.
My prefrontal cortex ached, then Apollo chirped up - he needed to go.
"We're nearly there, there's somewhere I want to show you." AJ reassured.
The trees opened up to reveal Wast Water.
The dog and I fell out of the car.
A part of me was unable to breathe, all of my senses were overwhelmed.
10 years of my life have been spent living beside two extremely large man-made reservoirs in Africa. Dam locations are chosen based on geology - you want a perfect mountain site with rocks which do most of the work for you.
Looking up at the volcanic hills around the lake - England's deepest - I felt at home. The vastness of the lake, the deep valley filled by water, the serene silence.
We sat on the shore of the lake, I closed my eyes and listened to the geophony - the soundscapes, the gentle lapping of the water as wind fell from Scafell Pike and Great Gable.
When it comes to the hills, AJ and I share a love for extreme environments - places which challenge us and leave us vulnerable.
The soundtrack, the lapping water, was too tempting.
In I jumped.
The water clear, icy, exhilarating.
As I waded, dropping down into lazy swims, the dog barked on the shoreline.
It didn't take much convincing, he paddled out to meet me.
Tired, and hungry, Apollo swam out to me, then swiftly returned to AJ on the shore.
I didn't want to leave, I wanted to swim out across the lake to the scree slope. This sentiment surprised me.
And then, strangely yet serenely, I felt a great connection to my recently passed Grandmother. She was a competitive and national swimmer, with her father and grandfather before her both olympic coaches. The Oprah Winfrey paraphrased lines of Maya Angelou's Poem Our Grandmothers, felt real; I come as one but stand as ten thousand.
Apollo waded to the shore to warm up, and I dropped down into the water for one last swim.
Cold and shivering, Apollo ran around playing with a stick he had found in an attempt to warm up... check out his agility in the video below!
Wast Water, you are something special, let's do this again soon.