Plan your Great North Swim


With the Arla Great North Swim just around the corner, thousands will be snapping on their swim caps, adjusting their nose clips and diving into nature. Even though it’s the UK’s largest event of its kind, the vibe is much more an appreciation of open-water swimming rather than uber-competitive racing.

And with six different distances to choose from, all are welcome in this weekend-long collective celebration.

A great place to visit

Our location at Brockhole-on-Windermere not only has plenty of Insta-worthy views, it’s an activity-packed family holiday destination. It’s no wonder the Lake District attracts over 18 million visitors every year. 

While this level of tourism boosts the local economy and supports businesses, it can also have a negative impact. Congested roads, inflated house prices and damage to the environment are just some of the detrimental effects of high levels of tourism.

Leave no trace

There’s nothing like getting out in nature to help us switch off from work and tech overwhelm and reconnect with friends and family. But we need to make sure that when we enjoy it, we leave no trace.

And with thousands of visitors passing through the Lake District on the Arla Great North Swim weekend, we’re super-mindful that we do our bit to protect it.

5 top tips for planning a sustainable visit

Sustainable travel

We’re expecting 10,000 participants (and their supporters) this year, so we ask that you use public transport wherever possible to help cut the Great North Swim’s carbon footprint. Not only does a ton of extra traffic pollute the air, it clogs up the narrow roads, endangering wildlife and pedestrians. Plus the lack of parking options makes for a nightmarish driving experience.

We’ve partnered with local bus and ferry providers so you have all the travel info you need to get ready for your trip - happy planning!

Ethical accommodation

When choosing a place to stay, you might want to try some eco-friendly campsites and accommodation.

Moss Grove Organic is a luxury boutique hotel striving to make all they do as natural and sustainable as possible.

Cedar Manor has Green Hotel accreditation and takes proactive steps to protect the environment.

Ivywaite Lodge is a guesthouse which prides itself on its sustainable credentials and reducing its impact on the environment.

Pitch your tent or book an eco pod at Rydal Hall campsite. With electricity sourced from their hydro-electric plant augmented by solar power, they keep their carbon footprint low.

Or the carbon neutral holiday park, The Quiet Site offers sustainable stays in modern glamping accommodation within the traditional feel of a Cumbrian farm.  

Nature from afar

The Lake District is one of the last destinations in England where you can find red squirrels. If you’re driving, keep an eye out for road signs alerting you to their presence and slow down. Other wildlife to spot include otters, red and roe deer, and a variety of birds of prey. And, although not actually wild in the strictest sense, distinctive Herdwick sheep are often found roaming freely in Cumbria.

Wild flora and fauna are also best enjoyed at a distance. Windermere is home to primroses in spring, and an abundance of vibrant heather in the summer, with the damper areas sporting graceful cotton grass. Snap photos of the wildlife and plants from afar and leave them for others to enjoy. 

Shop local

Do your bit for the local economy and head over to Crookabeck Farm for some Herdwick wool. Snag tasty treats from Grasmere Gingerbread or pop to Herdy for some bright and colourful homeware, clothing and gifts.

Got an eye for art? Visit the independent Gallery North West in Brampton, or check out Makers Mill, a creative venue featuring mixed media art, textiles, ceramics and handmade furniture. Or head to Rheged Centre in Penrith where you’ll find a Shop for The Senses, a concept shop collaboration between ten artists and artisans.

Eat local

Sustainable food can mean a lot of different things. To some, it’s a fully plant-based diet, but to others it means sourcing local ethically raised meat, and responsibly sourced fish. Eating local means fewer miles for it to travel, and a smaller carbon footprint.

If you’re a fine-dining foodie, Simon Rogan’s set menu at Henrock in Bowness-on-Windermere might be for you. Simon’s ethos centres around creating dishes featuring local ingredients and produce from their own farm.

If you don’t eat meat, most places in Windermere have veggie and vegan options including veggie café The Rookery, La Trattoria Bowness Italian restaurant and Urban Food House, famous for its roast veg ciabatta and vegan chilli nachos.

Let’s make this year’s event the best and most eco-friendly yet!


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