Like all the best ideas, Scree to Sea was dreamt up over a pint on a warm summer evening in the Lake District. The idea was a simple one - returning home via the river. In this guest Daring Deed, Malcom and Anne Whiteman begin their journey along the length of the river Kent.
The best ideas also tend evolve and grow over the years, and somehow, one frosty morning in February we found ourselves pulling on our Alpkit Silvertip wetsuits and Huub extremities kits and making the three mile hike to film the first section of our journey from Kentmere Reservoir to the Morecambe Bay estuary.
The idea for project ‘From Scree to Sea’ came a few years ago when my wife Anne and I were sitting outside the Eagle and Child Inn, Staveley on a warm summer evening, where we had stopped o for a pint a er an evening swim in Windermere. Looking at the River Kent, which goes past the pub beer garden, I wondered about how easy it would be for us to swim home to Kendal – it seemed like a good thing to try over a summer weekend...
Cut to mid-February 2017, on a dark and frosty morning we were up, getting our kit ready to start a slightly different journey. The weather forecast was good and the swim would start today. After discussions with filmmaker and friend Ian Palmer, the project had morphed from swimming from Staveley to Kendal, to a swim of all the swimmable sections of the Kent from its mountain start up in the Kentmere valley to where it goes into the estuary. We had also decided to film the various sections over the seasons, hence the winter start. Our new Alpkit Silvertip wetsuits and Huub extremities kit would help us deal with the cold water we would initially encounter.
Those who know Kentmere will realise that it’s a good three mile hike from the trail head up to the top of the reservoir and we had a stunningly beautiful day for it. Snow on the fells, frost everywhere, blue skies to die for and a half mile swim with the water temperature about 4oC. With the right kit everything is possible and our swim was one of the most enjoyable and memorable things Anne and I have ever done in the Lakes. The filming went well and we were raring to go for the next stage which would be Kentmere Tarn.
Unfortunately due to weather being poor at weekends and winter colds, we were delayed until late March when a suitable weekend day offered the chance of good weather for the filming. Arriving at the tarn (this time a short two minute walk from where you park) we had glass smooth water which reflected the clear blue sky above us, early morning mist hanging over the water and crunchy frost on the grass. Despite the similar conditions to the first swim, we could feel a change in the water temperature as the seasons had started to move on.
Since swimming these two bodies of water we are now onto the moving water of the river itself. We will be swimming all swimmable sections of the Kent from scree to sea. We estimate we will have swam well over half of the rivers 20 mile length by the end of the project. Ian is a local filmmaker who is ace (instagram @ipalmer71).
Shot over weekends and holidays, the film captures our journey throughout the seasons until June, ready for submission in August. Here's a little teaser.