My name is Grace and I’m 12 at the end of August and I live in Keswick in The Lake District. We have loads of lakes and meres and waters and tarns where we live and Max (my brother who was 9 last week) and I love to go down to Derwentwater, our local lake, for a swim or to just jump in the water off the jetty. It’s great when Dad brings the BBQ after school because the sun shines on our side of the lake until quite late.
A few years ago my Dad did a thing called The Frog Graham. The Frog Graham is the swimmer’s equivalent of the famous Bob Graham, a 66-mile circuit of 42 of the Lake District’s highest peaks, which is completed in 24 hours. My dad was the first person to complete the Frog Graham, after Peter Hayes*, who invented it. It’s 60 kilometres of fell running and there is three kilometres of swimming across Bassenthwaite Lake, Crummock Water, Buttermere and Derwent Water – so it was far too big for me. Plus there are hills involved and you are supposed to carry everything yourself.
so it was far too big for me. Plus there are hills involved and you are supposed to carry everything yourself.
My uncle then came up with a kids’ version, which my cousin Louisa did. It’s called The Tadpole Graham. For the Tadpole Graham, you swim across Crummock Water, run along the shoreline to Buttermere, then a swim across Buttermere before running back via the village, and then there’s a “bit” of climb before you descend back to the start. I was there when Louisa did it, but I was only eight at the time so I didn’t do it all.
The following year, however, I decided I wanted to have a go! Uncle Andrew brought the canoe along and we all swam across Crummock Water, which was a little bit choppy but it was ok. On the far side I was a bit hungry so we stopped for a snack. I then got changed into some walking clothes. Mum and her friend Fiona (they did The Frog Graham together) walked with me all the way to Buttermere. It’s quite a long way but it was a nice day and we just chatted lots. When we got to the far side of Buttermere, Uncle Andrew and my Dad were there with my cousins Samuel, Louisa and Phoebe and JackJack, their dog, as well as my brother Max and of course, the canoe. Most of us swam across the lake and the water was really clear. Buttermere is really shallow at the sides but suddenly gets deep and the light goes down in to the water but you can’t see the bottom. It’s my favourite lake to swim in but the water can be a bit cold sometimes.
After the Buttermere swim we all sat and had sandwiches because I was really hungry. Then we did this thing where you fill a swim cap with water and drop it on to someone’s head. If you get it just right the water makes it flip outside in and on to their head. We tried it loads of times and everyone just ended up getting really wet but eventually it worked on my brother Max but it completely covered his eyes and he couldn’t see!
After the Buttermere swim we all sat and had sandwiches because I was really hungry.
After lunch my Mum and I walked back along the foreshore of Butteremere to the village but then we had to go uphill. I didn’t know about this bit because I hadn’t done it with Louisa but it was a long way and I was quite tired. Then when you get to a flat bit you turn left and go down a lovely valley called Rannerdale. We went there a few weeks ago with Grandma when all the Bluebells came out.
When I got back to the start I was so tired. We all went to Uncle Andrew’s house and had a BBQ because it was a bit late and I had to go to school the next day. I really enjoyed it and it was so nice that my family and friends came along to help.
I know that some other adults have now done The Frog Graham and Phoebe did the Tadpole last year so in our family, it’s now: Girls: 3, Boys: 0, but I think Max is going to have a go this summer.
This story was a winner in the Summer 2017 Orca x OSS competition to commission 6 stories of swim adventures around the world.