Travel tips: swimming in the Lake District, and celebrating Jane Austen
Advice for thrill seekers in Cumbria, fun for fans of Pride and Prejudice, and the best deals of the week
Take Me There: Big Chill Swim, Cumbria
If plunging into the freezing waters of Lake Windermere in the middle of February is your idea of fun, there’s still time to sign up for the Big Chill Swim, a new winter swimming event in Cumbria. Open-water swimming is one of the fastest-growing sports in the UK but with water temperatures below 5C and no wetsuits allowed, this is not for the faint-hearted. There are races for all levels, from a 30m penguin dip for novices (£12) to a 450m endurance swim (£25). The event will take place on 2 February at the Low Wood Bay Resort Hotel and Marina. Register before 30 January (chillswim.com).
It’s a good time to… go in search of Mr Darcy
The mini tourism industry that has grown up around Jane Austen steps up a gear this year as the nation celebrates the 200th anniversary of one of its best-loved novels. Pride and Prejudice was published on 28 January 1813 and the bicentenary will be marked with a host of special events, from readathons to Regency balls.
The focal point will be the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, where the writer spent the last years of her life (jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk). An exhibition will tell the story of the book and there will be re-enactments of key scenes (1 April) and writing workshops for budding Austens (2 March). You can also follow a trail around the author’s home county, from her birthplace in Steventon to her final resting place in Winchester cathedral (visit-hampshire.co.uk/ideas-and-inspiration/famous-faces/jane-austen).
Not to be outdone, Bath, where Austen lived for five years, has its own series of events including a 24-hour Pride and Prejudice readathon (28 January) and a costumed Regency Ball (22 June), organised by the Jane Austen Centre (janeausten.co.uk). You can even sign up for Regency dance classes – just in case you get an invitation to the ball at Netherfield (janeaustendancersbath.co.uk).