Wild swimming in Llyn Cau, Cadair Idris, Wales.
It’s all well and good being the queen of planning a Bank Holiday weekend, but then me and Ryan tend to have our best days out which have been completely spontaneous.
Our spontaneity meant we found ourselves at the foot of Cadair Idris, which has quickly become one of our favourite places.
The sky was hazy but the sun still heated the exposed rocky steps that started the route up one of the many mountains within Snowdonia. Despite dripping in sweat I felt privileged to call Wales my home. Some walkers were coming down, their dogs eager to get to the shade of the trees and the river at the bottom. Some ascending, and like us, completely under-estimated the temperatures that would be present climbing such a steep mountain.
Over a crest we’d find the never ending steps behind us and more of Cadair Idris revealing itself. All I wanted to do was quicken up the pace to find the lake I fell in love with a few years ago, despite not being able to swim in it yet. Our last time here was our first holiday together. Camping in Dolgellau, which is still one of my favourite holiday memories.
The pace not speeding up quite enough due to me being distracted by an army of Labradors that made me wish Jenson was with us, and a Westie loving life in his owner’s back pack watching the world go by. A previously adventurous dog, but his ageing legs meaning he can’t quite get up the mountains anymore. But you can’t leave him at home can you? He could still come out on the flat after all.
The lake finally came into view.
Blue. Clear. Still. And in the shadows of the crag that led to the top of Cadair Idris.
My body wanted nothing more but to jump in, but the desire to see what the view was like from the top was greater.
Our path got steeper once again, but we did pause every once in a while to take in the view. As much as we rush through our daily lives, we shouldn’t rush in places as beautiful as these.
Now the only thing that stood between us and where we would climb to was loose rocks. So naturally we had to take our time up these.
Over a stile we joined families already at the top. Young kids battling with their curiosity to get close to the edge, but being scared to at the same time. Taking photos and making memories. It’s been a while since I’ve seen kids exploring the outdoors and being so happy about it. The parents had no phones, they were just spending time with their kids.
Looking down at the lake, I was eager to get in it so after some photos we made our way back down.
The lake side dotted with others fully immersed with being outdoors.
Skipping stones. Taking a quick dip before the cold water getting the better of them. Brothers trying to push each other in.
I squeezed into my wetsuit that Ryan had been lugging around in his backpack. He pulled the zip together so I could get it around my shoulders. Then it was time to see if I could beat the demons that stopped me swimming here last time.
Not confident in my ability (or lacking of) to swim and unsure how my body would react to the cold. A few years on after learning to swim, a Triathlon and a few open water swims around my belt, I was in a bit of a better position than last time.
But it was still a lake up a mountain. It was still going to be cold and I still didn’t think I was a strong swimmer.
So I didn’t get in straight away. Ryan got in before me.
I was looking at the water before me. The darker it got, the deeper it got. The water giving me shock every time it squeezed inside my wetsuit.
After a few dunks of my body in the water, I was finally started to get use to the water.
Ryan waited and let me build my confidence up on my own.
I suddenly found myself pushing off through water and I slowly moved through the water. The coldness of it making it exhilarating. The battles my body has when it gets cold, swimming in such cold water was massively out of my comfort zone.
I only ventured so far before turning back, but each time I got a little bit further.
All of a sudden I was getting lost in the beauty of seeing the lake from a different perspective. The crag looked bigger. And the sun catching the surface of the water to make it glisten, contrasting against the deep blue water. It was so quiet, yet my mind completely switched off.
My legs may have turned to jelly when it came to come out, but I had the biggest sense of relief. Despite the things I’ve done since, not being able to swim that day a few years ago stuck with me. I kind of knew I wouldn’t be satisfied until I’d gone back to Llyn Cau up Cadair Idris.
There were demons there I needed to conquer.
Walking back down the mountain I was in the best mood I’d been in for a while. Already planning my birthday so I could come back and swim again.
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