Tag Archives: Head to the Hills

Comedian Ed Byrne takes a double dip in the Lakes

ed byrne and pete in ullswater 1

Ed, left, with Pete Kelly in Ullswater. Photo: Steve Ashworth/MovieIt

It was no laughing matter when comedian Ed Byrne went for a hike in the Lake District.

He tackled one of the most serious climbs up Swirral Edge onto Helvellyn, England’s third highest mountain, stopping for a dip in one of the highest tarns on the way up.

And to complete the adventure, he had a swim in Ullswater at the end of the day.

Byrne, the Irish stand-up comedian and actor, was guided by mountain leader and open water swimming expert Pete Kelly from Ambleside’s Head to the Hills.

The route forms an adventure swimming day known as the Helvellyn Double Dipper which Head to the Hills offer for individuals or small groups wanting an extra challenge in the mountains.

Byrne, who has presented television shows Uncut! Best Unseen Ads and Just for Laughs, and is a guest on television panel games, is also a keen walker and  Munro bagger. He also writes regularly for The Great Outdoors magazine.

“This was Ed’s first taste of adventure swimming in the mountains and considering this he did really well and provided enjoyable company throughout the day, and was stopped on the summit by some admirers for the obligatory selfies,” said Pete Kelly.

“Our clients love this day out because Red Tarn is one of the most dramatic swimming locations in the Lake District. It provides cooling relief after the strenuous hike up from the valley floor and provides the best view of the mountain amphitheatre surrounding it. And Swirral Edge provides a really exciting route to the top of Helvellyn.”

Pete advises that only experts should attempt to tackle the double challenge without a qualified guide. “We get people safely to the top of the mountain, and take in another couple of summits before coming down via Glenridding Beck for the second swim of the day in Ullswater.”

Anyone who wants to try Ed Byrne’s route can find full details at http://www.headtothehills.co.uk/events/item/helvellyn-double-dipper-adventure-swim-lake-district-aug.html?category_id=45

The distance walked is 15km, with 1,000m of ascent, and approx 3km of swimming. The next guided tour is on Saturday 29 August and costs £69.99 per person.

Pete Kelly is writing a swimming and hiking guide to the Lakes for Wild Swimming author and publisher Daniel Start.



The Great Lake District Swim Challenge

great lakes pic

17 Lakes, 4 Days, 2 New Challenges

A new challenge launched by Ambleside-based swim company Head to the Hills offers the chance for adventurers to swim in all of the English Lakes over two weekends.

The Great Lake District Swim Challenge is set to establish the Lake District as the UK adventure capital for outdoor swimmers.

The Challenge is split into two halves, east and west Lake District, and each is a non-stop action packed trip where the swimmers will have to cross a width, sometimes twice,  of each of the swim-able Lakes in the allotted time before moving onto the next venue by chartered mini-bus.

One of the organisers, Andrea Kelly, said: “The Lake District attracts thousands of swimmers each year to organised events, but this new challenge aims to capture the imagination and adventurous spirit of swimmers.

“The great Lake District swim challenge will allow us to really showcase the beauty – and the beast – of the Lake District with its clear waters and soaring mountains.”

The two weekends are 8th – 9th August and 5th – 6th September 2015 and accommodation is included in the challenge.

Groups are small as Head to the Hills are keen to protect the environment of the Lake District so they advise to book early by visiting www.headtothehills.co.uk or ringing 015394 33826. 

Great Lake District Swim Challenge Statistics 

  • Swim Total: 16.1km
  • Longest v Shortest Swim: 2000 metres v 500 metres
  • Lakes: 17
  • Journey Miles: 214

Link to GLDSC West:


Link to GLDSC East: