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Has this been done? Will it ever be done?
Background: I've been paragliding for a while. A couple of years ago I had a nasty crash and broke a leg. This year I broke the ankle on the same leg. I've now got so much metal in there I'm not comfortable getting airborne again, so I'm considering diving as an alternative pursuit.
Nine years ago I walked all the Wainwrights (Lake District fells) - lots of people do that. Three years later, I paraglided all the Wainwrights. As far as I know, nobody else has. Wrote a book about it - google "wainwrights paragliding".
So now I'm thinking diving, and my mother-in-law says "Are you going to dive all the Wainwrights?". That got me thinking.
What would that even mean?
I figured the simplest interpretation would be: visit the deepest point of every decent-sized body of water in the Lake District. That should present a decent challenge, while being achievable in a reasonable amount of time, even considering that I'd be learning to dive first.
Then the investigation started.
First thing I found out: many of the lakes and tarns are absolutely rubbish for diving in. Nothing in there, and if there was, you couldn't see it because of the silt that runs off the fells and kills visibility. Well, OK, but there are summits that are dull and uninteresting (Mungrisdale Common, I'm looking at you, but not for very long...).
(2): some of the largest most significant bodies of water are reservoirs owned by United Utilities, and completely off-limits for diving. These include Thirlmere and Haweswater. Fine, cross those off.
(3): it seems there's no such thing as lightweight diving gear. Some of the tarns are a long, hard trek up from the nearest place you can park a car. Carrying diving gear just makes it harder.
(4): by "outdoorsy people" standards, divers are lazy. I've heard tales of people complaining about having to cross a road from where the van is parked to get to the water's edge.
(5): there's no sensible way to do this alone, so I'm going to have to find a dive buddy who's prepared to do this nonsense with me. See (3) and (4) for how likely that is.
(6): some of the lakes are DEEP. It's well known that Wast Water at 79m is the deepest in England, but you can at least park right next to that. Blea Water, a glacial tarn above Haweswater, is 61m deep and the surface is at 488m (over 1600 feet). Dives that deep require, I'm told, advanced training, preparation and equipment, and are pretty hazardous.
From all of the above I concluded that while my original idea (visit the deepest point of every major body of water in the Lakes) CAN be done in theory, it is something that I won't be attempting. Further, I'm going to stick my neck out and say that nobody will ever do it.
That, in itself, seems incredible to me - on one level the "challenge" seems relatively straightforward, but when you lay out the obstacles, it becomes impossible. Can this be true? Surely there's some nutjob out there who would be prepared to take on this task? I mean, people have done much more stupid things for basically no reason..
Then again, who would be impressed by it (apart from me, I mean)? It's hardly a route to fame and fortune. Then again, neither was paragliding the Wainwrights, and some nutjob did indeed do that (I finished almost exactly six years ago).
Any thoughts on this?
You seem to have done a fair bit of research and your conclusions are about right.
I live on the egde of the Lakes so I dive Coniston (for convenience) / Wastwater (for depth) / Windermere (for picking up shiny things tourists drop) pretty regularly.
I've been in Crummock and Ullswater as well but it gets to the point that you ask "why?". Even the good lakes are not very good. I know people that have dived shallow tarns at altitude. It was a feat of endurance and planning to get kit to the right place. Diving anything deep is going to require twice as much kit. Your metal legs wouldn't enjoy that!
You should definitely learn to dive though. If you're close to the lakes then you've got free access to water in all weather conditions and you'll be far more impressed by whats around the coast than you would be with your challenge.
Friendly group of divers around Preston to learn with too.... https://www.justabunchofdivers.org/
The depth will make such a project a very long term one if you are at the non diver stage. 80m in cold dark water is not something easy and would require a fair bit of time to get to that level. (And some serious expense)
You are correct in all the conclusions as NWdiver as said. It's kind of a pointless (other than to say you've done it) task. As an alternative you could swim the lakes - that would be a much more sensible thing to do.
If you've not already seen it, there is/was an excellent site with details of all the diveable water in the Lakes. It's available on the wayback machine. :
On the challenge, it's very much possible for someone with your motivation. Whether it's sensible with your injuries, I'm not so sure. The hard bit will be carrying heavy gear up hills.
I think it would be reasonable to omit the depth bit. It would be impossible to find the actual deepest bit of Wastwater or Ullswater for instance. Also, there is nothing difficult about diving to the bottom of Wastwater if you have built the experience & training to do so (Trimix/Helium+Deco, 200+dive experience). It's probably the easiest 75m deep dive in the country, both for logistics & in-water. There's no challenge in it if you plan to do it safely, so in some ways no point in going to the bottom.
Diving some of the high tarns is more difficult. I carried some gear up to Red Tarn, Helvellyn for some guys from High Wycombe SAC. It took about 2-3 hours up and needed at least 1 porter+1 diver ratio to work, without two trips. I think that is probably a decent enough dive, there is a Mosquito aircraft wreck in it.
New TDF Member
If by "swim the lakes" you mean swim in each of them, then I think I could probably tick off the remaining ones I've not already done in a reasonably busy weekend - I've swum in practically everything bigger than a puddle. Then again, I can't imagine I'd be the only one to have done so. Rather the point was to attempt something nobody had done, but instead I seem to have come up with something nobody CAN do. /shrug/
Originally Posted by Chrisch
Good tip about Red Tarn, though! That'll definitely be on a list of things I'd like to try at some point...
I'd give it consideration for sure I like an esoteric challenge and the logistics can be as engaging as the actual event itself.
Drop me a pm and we can have a ponder, would be a long termer though given what I have planned for next year.
Have you considered the Frog Graham Round?
I'm one of that friendly bunch. If you get in contact we can arrange training.
Originally Posted by NWdiver
We've dived similar lakes to NWdiver but prefer the sea if we can get into it.
Coniston is dark and reasonably deep
Windermere is busy, dark & deep in places
Wast is deepest
Crummock is the home of the Silt Monster
A buddy and I are possibly the only divers to have dived Devoke Water. It's shallow and a bit boring.
Not specific to the Lakes but this might give you an idea of the equipment considerations and likely weight involved:
This was for diving in just a few metres with a long trek in and out. Diving to 80m would be a completely different mission with significantly different equipment requirements (not to mention ability/training/experience as mentioned in an earlier comment).
Originally Posted by EmpireMica
These lads have recently completed the three lakes challenge:
If the shallow dive/long hike is something that appeals
Last edited by Chimp; 19-09-2019 at 02:05 PM.