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A spooky dip at Chillingham Castle

Bikini dip 28

Week 6, dip 1

Air 11

Water 8.4

9 mins

Bikini swim 28 took place at a special place this morning - Chillingham Castle lake in Northumberland, after Sir Humphry Wakefield very kindly gave me permission to swim there with Jane Hardy. Chillingham Castle dates back to medieval times and is famously known for its haunted rooms inside, reputedly one of the spookiest places in the UK! There are dungeons to visit, and beautiful grounds. Close by are the world renown Chillingham wild Cattle, “the only wild cattle in the world and the sole survivors of the herds which once roamed the forest of Britain” (

Helpfully a friend said during a phone call on my drive there that she would be freaked out swimming in the lake....people report bodies in the bottom and zombie faces. Yay. Can’t wait to get in there, then. I had also been told that the lake was extremely cold and almost completely black 😱. Yippee.

We were escorted to the lake by Victoria, Sir Humphry’s PA and a fellow swimmer who I know from my tri club days. She assured me that it was a stunning place to swim, and she wasn’t wrong. We walked a few minutes up a windy wooded path, through the vibrant autumnal leaves on the swaying trees and arrived at the lake side. The lake is nestled between trees, and the sun was shining on the water, the autumn trees reflected in the gently rippling surface. It didn’t look spooky, it looked beautiful. There were some grassy sections to walk down to get in...some weeds....and mud...but it looked lovely.

Jane and I disrobed and walked towards the edge of the lake. Jane went first, just to film me getting in, not because I am a complete wimp, you understand? 😬 I squelched my way through the mud (UG), slipped gracefully onto my backside and plunged forward acrobatically across the weeds. I was in! And wow it was cold! Instantly, my skin tingled and I knew straight away that this was the coldest water of the year.

I checked my thermometer and sure enough it read 8.4c 🥶 I felt fine actually, not freaked out at all, too busy concentrating on not twatting either Jane or myself in the face with my go pro, and keeping my breathing steady as it was tricky to swim hard enough to keep warm. I lay back and looked around me, sun peeking over the top of the trees, complete silence, spotting a tiny little wren hopping about on a tree root near the waters edge. Blissful.

I felt so very lucky I was getting the opportunity to swim in such a stunning place. Jane then piped up “wonder where all the fish are? They must have disappeared when we got in”. Ah yes, back to reality. Fish....lots of them....and obviously at that moment something touched my foot...but before I shrieked I managed to persuade my brain that it was just a weed. Nonetheless, we started to make our way back across the lake....

After 9 minutes we were done, invigorated and on a high after such a special swim. I didn’t even mind the mud between my toes when I got out (maybe that’s going too far..).

I would like to thank Sir Humphry very much for giving me permission to swim in his private lake, although I did notice a sign when we got back to the castle stating that it is a carp and trout lake....glad I didn’t spot that when I got in! I feel so grateful to be given these opportunities to swim in such wonderful places and raising awareness of birth trauma and the FUN you can have with a stoma, and after trauma.

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