Safety comes first
The Lake District is a great place to climb, scramble and enjoy the outdoors but most importantly you need to be aware of your own safety, be organised and be prepared.
We do not recommend going it alone but if you do want to go out independently careful planning and sensible precautions are essential.
Have the appropriate equipment which could include waterproofs or a wetsuit and consult a Lake District scrambling guide. Access varies so you must check with landowners before setting out.
Consider how you will stay safe and protect you and your party from many risks including (but not limited to);
- banging your head
- stone falls from above
- falling in to deep or swift, fast flowing water
- getting cold - you could go into shock
- changing weather conditions
- pool jumping hazards - cold water shock, submerged rocks, shallow pools etc.
Accidents do happen so you also need to make adequate first aid provisions for yourself and your party and be aware of what you will do in an emergency.
These activities do carry a risk, especially if you are unfamiliar with the area, the ghylls or the weather conditions, so please research your day carefully, make adequate provisions or best of all consider going out with an experienced provider.
Pool jumping is a very popular activity but it is also extremely hazardous. All pools should be inspected for depth, submerged rocks or objects, and entrapment risks before jumping and the risk of unknown undertows should also be considered. Remember the higher the jump, the faster it is, and the plunge into the pool will be deeper. It is also harder to control, if miscalculated it can be very dangerous and may result in injury. Jumping in to cold water can result in shock (particularly on a hot day) and this activity should never be done under the influence of alcohol.
Please think very carefully, and assess the risks properly, before attempting an unsupervised pool jump.
• Swim close to and along the shoreline.
• Notify someone of the planned route and expected return time.
• Swim with a buddy or group and use a support boat where possible.
• Wade in slowly to avoid the shock of cold water.
• Check for obstacles and depth of water before jumping or diving in.
• Never swim after drinking alcohol or eating a heavy meal.
• Check wind and weather conditions before planning an open water swim.
• Don't swim across ferry routes, busy sailing areas or near ferry jetties; swimmers are not expected in the water and may not be seen.
• Make use of local knowledge to find out good places to swim,"Lake District Open Water Swimmers" group on Facebook can offer friendly, open advice and are a good place to start.
Lake rescue services are available by dialling 999.
Cramps: Relax, lie back and gently paddle to shore.
Cold Water Shock: Enter the water slowly, allowing your body to adapt gradually.
Hypothermia: Swimming in cold water causes a rapid decline in your body temperature, uncontrollable shivering and chattering teeth are a sign to get out and get warm.
Weeds: Be careful not to get entangled in weeds and never dive into them. They are usually clearly visible and easily avoided.
Blue Green Algae: Bright algal blooms may form in certain lakes following prolonged warm weather. Blue Green Algae may cause a rash or sickness. Take note of local warning signs and check the Environment Agency website for algae warnings.
Weather: A change in the weather can dramatically alter the swimming conditions. Check the forecast before getting in the water.
Remember: All swimmers swim entirely at their own risk. There are no lifeguards provided for safety in open water.
The Lake District National park have a series of useful guides to the lakes with general information on swimming. Their website also provides a list of lakes in which you can swim.
Be Bike Aware
1. Plan you route carefully.
Length and difficulty of your route should be considered carefully. Be realistic about your own and your groups' abilities - this is the key to a good day out! Check your timing and make sure that you are aware of the hours of daylight for the time of year you are visiting.
Check you have all the appropriate maps (we advise you not to rely on route descriptions and basic maps) and that your party are aware of what lies ahead of them.
Make contingency plans, if one of your party turns out to be less fit than you expected - have a shorter route ready - an 'escape' route is always advisable if the weather turns bad.
Remember to allow time for breaks - everyone needs to eat and drink!
Always get a good forecast before you head out and be prepared to change or shorten your route. Remember that in Cumbria, weather systems bringing rain are generally the fast-moving westerlies, and so bright weather can often appear quickly even on the wettest of days.
Good equipment is always advised. A compass (learn how to use it) and whistle are always advisable in case you get in to difficulties. For clothing - use the 'layer' principle: take several thinner layers that you can adjust according to conditions, rather than one thick layer. Always wear a helmet.
Why not take some advice from the many specialist retailers or cycling shops.
Your pack should contain energy food, such as chocolate or dried fruit, torch, survival bag and a basic first aid kit, as well as the compass and whistle mentioned earlier. Plenty of drink is necessary to replace fluids lost through physical exertion.
5. Where are you?
Tell someone where you are going. The place where you are staying, a friend, even the local police. Write a note detailing how many are in your group, roughly what your route is and approximate return time. Always check in when you return - don't waste the Emergency Services' time.
6. Your Bike
Always prepare your bike carefully, ensuring that all tyres and moving parts are ready for your particular type of route.
Watch out especially for loose surfaces on corners if off-road biking and take care on downhill sections. Dismount if doubtful.
8. The environment
The Lake District National Park Authority offer the following advice to mountain bikers:
- Carry the right equipment for you and your bike, including clothing, food and a repair kit.
- Brake smoothly and progressively to avoid surface damage
- Never forget that the countryside is the farmers workplace - please respect it.
- Keep to bridleways and byways - you have no right to cycle on footpaths.
- The relevany OS map will help you plan your route on bridleways and byways.
- Avoid 'bunching up' and disturbing others when riding in a group.
- Keep to the line of the track.
- Make sure you're equipped for the mountains.
- Give fair warning when approaching others.
- Give way to horses and slow right down for walkers.
- Be pleasant to other countryside users and they'll be pleasant to you.
- Always wear a helmet.
- As a cyclist you are not allowed on open and common land.
- Follow the Country Code.
9. In emergency
The distress signal is six quick blasts of your whistle (or six torch flashes at night), wait for one minute, then repeat the signal. If there are more than two in the party, one should stay with the injured person, while the other plots the exact location, notes the injuries and goes for help. Dial 999 (the police should be the first point of contact).