Overview of Windermere & Ullswater, Guided Solo Swims

Both Windermere & Ullswater should be in every long distance swimmers ‘must do’ list.  Windermere is a classic, 10.5 miles, for some its the pinnacle of their open water swimming challenges for others a stepping stone to the English Channel.  

We offer swims suited around you, we pick the best start time and direction based on the weather, or guides live in the Lake District and know about long distance swimming.  

Our service includes:

  • Chillswim’s Rib Boat and experienced pilot
  • Commemorative Trophy
  • Live GPS Tracking
  • Chillswim Social Media Images and Posts to share with your friends and family
  • Swim Certificate


An observer is essential for your swim, and you can either bring your own support crew (max 3 people for a solo swimmer) or we can provide you with an observer to monitor your stroke rate, manager your feeds etc for approx £80 (one way & £120 two-ways).

Swim dates and times

We operate guided swims between May and October when the water temperature is typically between 14 and 20 degrees. The warmest water in the last few years has been July, but this by no means is guaranteed! Our swims start at 6 or 7am when the lake is at its quietest enabling the swimmer to make good progress before the commercial ferries begin operating and other motorised vessels operate. We tend to have most of our guided swims on week days to avoid sailing galas, motorboat events, and the general high boat traffic that a tourist destination such as Lake District attracts.

Assessment swims for channel swimming

There are strict criteria for these assessment swims by the CS & PF and CSA. Please check requirements with your channel swimming provider and we will operate the swim to your requirements.

Additional swimmers

It is possible to have more than one swimmer guided, and you can book this through the entry system. Swimmers should either be the same pace or form a relay team. For swimmers of different paces we recommend booking individual swims (you want to enjoy your swim).

Is there a time limit?

There is no time limit within which to complete your swim. Typically swimmers complete the length between 4 and 8 hours for a one way Windermere and 3 to 6 hours for Ullswater. However, for safety reasons of the pilot and swimmer, if the swimmer is expected to take greater than 14 hours on a two way swim, an additional boat pilot will be required – details of this will be provided if required.

Contingency days

We book a maximum of 3 swims per week to allow for moving swims in case of adverse weather, and to balance with our other projects. In recent years, we have only had to move 1 or 2 swim dates due to adverse weather. If the forecast is looking bad we will contact you in the week prior to your swim to discuss options. Please train in all weathers, as it will only be if there are sustained high winds that we are unable to operate on your booked day. Rain doesn’t stop a swim, the crew just get soggy too!

How to book your swim

Bookings will open soon for the 2020 season! 
The booking system takes a deposit of £200 (non refundable, and non transferable – unless the swim is cancelled due to bad weather), with the balance due 4 weeks before your swim. All payments are via the entry system.

Medical certification

A swim of this nature can place a great deal of stress on the body, and all swimmers are required to undergo a medical examination prior to their swim.  Copies of your medical forms can be uploaded to the entry system.

Ullswater can be a tough swim, but not one to shy away from. The rewards are well worth it. Ullswater is the second longest lake in the Lake District, the views are inspiring, and this is a lake not swum as often as Windermere. Due to the high mountain range around southwesterly end (Patterdale) and along the shores of the lake, the water temperature can be a little cooler and a little choppier in the water due to the wind being funnelled down the valley.

Our boat is stored on the lake and we meet swimmers at the shore and take you to the start point by boat. You will swim with the prevailing wind (usually towards Pooley Bridge).

The two-way Ullswater swim (14 miles) is Colin Hill’s personal favourite for Channel Training. It is challenging, but not so far as to put your shoulders under serious stress. 

What else do you need to know? 

Once you sign onto the swim we will send you a full briefing document about the challenge. Your pilot will call you a few days in advance to talk about the weather and meeting times etc.

Support person

Each swimmer needs a support person on the boat. You can have up to 3 people supporting you (make sure they have proper waterproofs, not city slicker splash resistant gear). If you need a support person, we can arrange someone for £80 one-way and £150 two way (just let us know well in advance).

Prices for private swims with us are:

  •  Solo Ullswater Swim (one person, one way) £400
  •  Solo Ullswater Swim (one person, two way) £600
  •  Two people Ullswater Swim (one way, swimming together or relay) £450
  •  Two people Ullswater Swim (two way, swimming together or relay) £700
  •  Three people Ullswater Swim (one way, swimming together or relay) £500
  •  Three people Ullswater Swim (two way, swimming together or relay) £800