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What is SwimHiking?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 7 Jun 2013 | comments*Discuss
What Is Swimhiking?

The Lake District would seem to provide the perfect setting for those who like to swim and for those who enjoy hiking too. It seems to have become a major inspiration for a new form of outdoors activity called ‘swimhiking’ which, as its name suggests, combines the two activities.

What Is Swimhiking?

Imagine hiking on a hot summer’s day when a refreshing swim in a lake or some other stretch of water allows you to do that. Whilst there will be many hikers all over the world who will plan their trekking routes accordingly so that they reach the finish at a point where they can cool down and swim in some open water, swimhiking actually takes this a step further.

It allows you to incorporate crossing stretches of water into your hiking routes whilst continuing to hike once you’ve crossed over to the other side. This also allows you to hike much further and you’re not constrained by the barrier of an open stretch of water.

Won’t My Clothes Get Wet?

The ingenious part of swimhiking comes in the development of a ‘swimsac’ which is basically a rucksack with an inner bag which is waterproof and which enables you to keep your clothes and any valuables dry.

It has inflatable floats which are located in the side pockets which also help with maintaining balance and buoyancy.

The basic concept was devised by Peter Hayes, an advocate of swimhiking, who designed an award winning prototype of the swimsac as a consequence of him wanting to combine hiking with swimming.

However, he found that not only did leaving his clothes on the shore of a lake make them more vulnerable to theft and the likes of dog fouling, it also meant that once he’d cooled off by taking a swim in the lake, he had no way of continuing his hike across the other side.

What Are The Benefits Of Swimhiking?

The obvious benefits of swimhiking are that it gives you the opportunity to combine swimming and hiking in tandem. It affords you more of an opportunity to explore longer routes which you might previously have been prevented from considering.

It is ideal on hot summer days where you can enjoy regular cooling off sessions in the water before you swim across to the other side of the stretch of water to continue on with the hiking part of your route.

Additionally, many hikers will tell you how a sudden downpour of rain when out hiking, can make you feel uncomfortable for the remainder of the hike. However, if you’re going to get wet anyway, it makes it more bearable.

It also gives you a greater exposure to enjoying some of the birds and wildlife that habitually spend time in the water so you can enjoy the whole outdoors experience from two perspectives – on land and in water. Furthermore, the combination of the two activities means that you’re getting much more of a fitness workout.

Where Can I Find Out More?

As a relatively new concept as an outdoors activity, it will take a little longer for swimhiking to catch up to other outdoor adventure activities that have become popular as the result of combining two other related activities – like kitesurfing, for example.

However, Peter Hayes has recently published a book entitled ‘Swimhiking in the Lake District and North East England’. This features 32 swimhiking routes and advice on swimhiking in over 50 tarns and lakes across the Lake District National Park. There are also a dozen routes featured in the book in the North East of England, some of which cover the likes of Hadrian’s Wall, Durham Cathedral and Holy Island.

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