Lake District adventure to raise money for Diabetes UK
Words: John Waynforth
Pics: Stephen Angell and Adrian Angell
Adrian, 55, a chemical engineer based in Cincinnati, Ohio, planned to complete this challenge in 2020, but they postponed the fundraiser until this year because of the Covid 19 related restrictions. Adrian grew up in Seascale, Cumbria, and the challenge was an especially meaningful homecoming after the separation from family in England caused by the pandemic.
The original idea was to paddle 100 miles along all of the lakes of the Lake District. Adrian explained, “When I Googled the statistics for the Lake District, I noticed that if I added up the lengths of all the lakes, it came to just over 50 miles, so I decided to double this to make it 100 miles.” He elaborated, “In previous years, I’ve raised money by paddling across the English Channel, across Scotland, and last year I paddled 50 miles along the Ohio River close to where I live. I feel that I need to keep increasing the difficulty of the challenges so that people can know that what I’m attempting is legitimately hard and worthy of donating money to Diabetes UK.” He began fundraising in 2018 following a suggestion from his niece, Megan, 25, from Derby, who has type 1 diabetes and has received help and support from Diabetes UK since her diagnosis.
Permission to paddle
In the process of planning, Adrian learned that the lakes are managed by either The Lake District National Park Authority, The National Trust, United Water Utilities, and private estates. By contacting the responsible parties for each of the lakes, Adrian was able to get permission to paddle on all of the lakes except for Haweswater Reservoir, Esthwaite Water, Brothers Water and Elter Water. United Utilities don’t allow boats on Haweswater due to the high current close to the dam. Esthwaite Water is a trout fishery. Brothers Water and Elter Water are areas of special scientific interest, with unique flora and fauna that would be disturbed by launching from the banks.
The list of lakes that Adrian paddled, in order, are Ullswater, Thirlmere, Grasmere, Windermere, Rydal Water, Coniston Water, Wastwater, Ennerdale Water, Loweswater, Crummock Water, Buttermere, Bassenthwaite Lake, and Derwent Water. Adrian said, “Tracking down the authorities and filling out the appropriate paperwork to make sure I had permission was an extra step, but worth it. The support and advice I received was a bonus. Since I was representing a charity, I wanted to do things properly.”
Almost as challenging as the paddling was driving along narrow fell roads and finding parking at some of the lakes. Adrian explained, “Ahead of the challenge, I spent a day scoping out the launch spots at each lake, including parking and permits. I did this on a weekday, in rainy weather. My brother, Stephen, then joined me to help with driving and logistics during the challenge at the weekend, and the number of tourists and traffic, especially around the popular lakes, was very high. The congestion slowed us down a lot and caused us to have to come back to complete Rydal Water because the White Moss car park we planned to use was full when we first tried.” Each day began with a 4 a.m. alarm. On Saturday morning, Adrian started paddling at 05.00 on Ullswater at Pooley Bridge, finally hitting the 100-mile mark on Derwent Water.
The conditions were generally good for paddling, except on Thirlmere, which was the second lake paddled. A north wind funnelled straight down the reservoir, and Adrian was heading into the wind against white-capped waves. Sunday was almost perfect, with very low wind on all the lakes. Adrian said, “My favourite lake is Wastwater. Wastwater is the lake closest to where I grew up, so I have great memories. It’s also one of the quietest lakes, having fewer tourists, and clear, deep water, with beautiful views of Scafell Pike and surrounding mountains.”
‘Check – Clean – Dry’ protocol
Another key consideration for the challenge was to ensure there was no impact on the lakes. Some of the lakes are in relatively poor health, and the National Trust is trying to avoid further deterioration by promoting the prevention of the spread of non-native invasive species. To help with this, paddlers must follow the simple ‘Check – Clean – Dry’ protocol. The protocol involves checking and wiping down the board to clean and dry before entering the next lake.
The motivation for the challenge was to support Diabetes UK. Adrian added, “Diabetes UK have helped and supported Megan over the years. She went to Diabetes UK youth events as a teenager, including residential outdoor activity centres with other young people with diabetes. She has used their helpline to get advice, and research sponsored by the charity has helped provide better treatments. I hope that my efforts will help them to continue their vital work.”
Clare Howarth, Head of the North of England at Diabetes UK, said, “We’ve seen demand for our services reach record levels over the last year, while our own funding has been significantly impacted. More so than ever, people with diabetes need us, but we need fundraising support to be able to continue fighting their corner.
“We want to thank Adrian for this incredible effort. Without the help of generous supporters like him, we simply would not be able to offer support to the thousands of people with diabetes contacting our helpline, to campaign to keep people with diabetes safe in the workplace, or to invest in vital research – taking us a step closer to our vision of a world where diabetes can do no harm.”
Derwentwater, at 4.8 km long, 1.6 km wide and 22 metres deep, is just a short stroll from Keswick town along well maintained footpaths. Known also as ‘Keswick’s Lake’, it has a long historical and literary background.
Buttermere – the lake by the dairy pastures – is 2 km long, 570 metres wide and 23 metres deep. The classic combination of lakes and mountains has made this popular with visitors.
Rydal Water is one of the smallest lakes at 1.2 km long, 400 metres wide, with a depth of 17 metres. Steps lead up from the western end of the lake to ‘Wordsworth’s Seat’ – reputedly the poet’s favourite viewpoint.
Ennerdale is the most westerly of the lakes, and the most remote, so it offers, even in high season, a place to escape. It is a deep glacial lake, 4 km long, 1.2 km wide and 45 metres deep. The water is very clear, and contains a variety of fish and is the only lake that does not have a road running alongside it.
Crummock Water with the mighty Grassmoor on the west and the fells of Mellbreak on the east, has unparalleled views from either side. It is 4 km long, 1.2 km wide and 42 metres deep and is a clear, rocky bottomed lake flanked by steep slate.
Bassenthwaite Lake, owned by the National Park Authority, is one of the largest at 6.4 km long and 1.2 km wide, but also one of the shallowest at 21 metres. It is the most northerly of the lakes, and has no major settlements on its shores. Its is often full of sailing boats from Bassenthwaite Sailing Club.
Nestled in a wooded valley in the far west of the Lake District, in the Vale of Lorton, Loweswater is approximately 1.6 km in length, 800 metres wide and 18 metres deep. It is a peaceful lake that is often bypassed.
Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District at 12 km long. It is on average 1.2 km wide and has a maximum depth of 62 metres at Howtown. The lake has three distinct bends giving it a dog’s leg appearance.
Grasmere, at 1.6 km long, 800 metres wide and 22 metres deep, is an an attractive and popular tourist area, described by Wordsworth as, “The most loveliest spot than man hath found,” the area of Lakeland that he most loved.
Situated in the Wasdale Valley, Wastwater is 4.8 km long, 800 metres wide and 79 metres deep – the deepest of all the lakes. Surrounded by mountains, Red Pike, Kirk Fell, Great Gable and Scafell Pike – England’s highest mountain.
Coniston Water is the fifth largest of the lakes, at 8 km long, and with a maximum depth of 56 metres. It has three small islands, all owned by the National Trust.
Thirlmere, at 5.6 km long, 2 km wide and 48 metres deep, was originally two smaller lakes. The lakes were dammed and the waters became one vast reservoir. In the process, the settlements of Armboth and Wythburn were submerged.
Windermere Lake, at 16.9 km long, 1.6 km wide and 67 metres deep, is the largest natural lake in both the Lake District and in England. The long thin lake itself forms the central spine of the Windermere Lake area of the Lake District. This area is also known as the South Lakes.