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The Lake District, Cumbria offers a huge variety of watersports, from canoeing and sailing to windsurfing and diving, your choice of water based activities is limitless.

Come and take part in outdoor swimming events, including the Great North Swim. Learn to water-ski or sail. Or if you fancy a fun based team activity why not try dragon boat racing or raft building.

Open Water Swimming

Cumbria is home to over 80 lakes, meres, waters, and tarns making it a natural home for this growing sport.

Coniston Water, Derwentwater, Ullswater and Windermere are all navigable lakes. There are numerous other lakes, tarns, rivers and becks in Cumbria, but permission from the landowner should be sought before swimming. Let us help you plan your swim in the Lake District.

Swimming Guides

Be Safe

Swimmers are responsible for their own safety and should be aware of their limitations, remember that even experienced pool swimmers tire much more quickly in open water. It is recommended that swimmers:

• 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.

Be Aware

With the right precautions open water swimming can be great fun but, like any outdoor activity, it has its risks. Some common ones are:

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.

Guides and Information

Cumbria Lake


The word 'canoeing' is often used to encompass both canoes and kayaks. To avioid confusion, we are talking about proper canoes: the canadian-style open boats, typically crewed by two or more people using single-bladed paddles. There are all sorts of adventures here, take on the challenges of canoe orienteering, go canoe touring or even progress to a five day Advanced Open Boat course. Canoes are very stable and there's not much to learn before you'll find yourself on the water. For anything more ambitious expert tuition is never far away.


Kayaks are also North American in origin, but this time we mean the Eskimo or Inuit peoples of the extreme north. Kayaks were used for long sea journeys as well as for hunting, leading to the development of highly manoeuvrable craft that are also capable of keeping out of the waves.

With a double-bladed paddle giving total control, and a fully enclosed boat that feels like an extension of your body, you'll soon be ready to tackle rivers, rapids, mountain streams - even the coastal surf. Remember: white water depends on rain and snowfall. Winter and Spring can be the most exciting times of all. Local activity providers will be able to supply all the equipment, instruction and advice you need for a breathtaking experience.

Canoeing in Cumbria

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