Lockdown at the lake

As we enter a second lockdown, it’ll be more important than ever to look after our mental and physical health. That is why Clevedon Marine Lake will remain open for socially-distanced daily exercise.

Semi-wild spot

Unlike open water swimming and watersports venues, Clevedon Marine Lake is a semi-wild spot more like a beach or park. It’s a relatively safe spot to swim, kayak or paddleboard compared to the sea and rivers, and it’s vital for the wellbeing of the community as gentle activity in and around water has been proven to benefit our mental and physical health.

Take care

If you visit the lake over the lockdown period, please be mindful of the government’s rules:

  • Visit with members of your own household only
  • You may meet with one person from outside your household
  • Socially distance at all times
  • If you swim, educate yourself on how to do this safely so that you don’t put the emergency services under any extra strain
  • No dogs
  • Don’t dive or jump in
  • Don’t swim alone

For more information on safe swimming in cold water, read here.

10 tips for cold water swimming

An article in The Guardian this week reported a 323% rise in the number of people swimming outdoors. And we’re not surprised having seen huge numbers of swimmers in Clevedon Marine Lake in recent months.

As the water temperature plummets (10-11 degrees centigrade at time of writing) and we hear more and more about the health and wellbeing benefits of outdoor swimming, we asked one of our Open Water Swimming Coaches for her top tips for safe winter swimming.

  1. Be safe
    Swim in a safe spot, watching out for currents and tides. The lake is safe all the time apart from when the tide comes over the wall. Check here for the high tide height — if it’s over 12.6m, swim an hour earlier or an hour later.
  2. Get acclimatised
    This means taking short, regular dips as the temperature drops so your body gets used.
  3. Swim together
    Never swim on your own. It’s best to buddy up, or at least have someone watching you from the side.
  4. No diving
    Cold water shock causes you to gasp and makes you unable to hold your breath. If this happens underwater it can be deadly. Most of the lake is shallow and there are rocks under the surface, which adds to the danger of diving.
  5. Wear a hat
    Or two! Swimming hat or bobble hat, it’ll keep you warmer and make sure others can see you.
  6. Dip
    Winter’s for dipping. Stay in for 1 minute per degree of temperature MAX. You keep on cooling down for half-an-hour after you get out of the water, so this will protect you from hypothermia and the afterdrop.
  7. Know your limits
    If you can swim a mile in the pool it doesn’t mean you can swim a mile outdoors. Your muscles will tire quickly and you’ll find it harder to control your breathing. Start with short swims.
  8. Stay near the exit
    It’s better to swim a few small laps than try to swim lengths of the lake.
  9. Take warming up seriously
    Wear a bobble hat, extra layers, drink a warm drink and eat something. Go somewhere warm, but avoid a hot bath or shower and don’t drive home until you’ve stopped shivering!
  10. Educate yourself and others
    Read up, listen to this podcast (free, but does include swearing), and then help others learn about how to enjoy swimming outdoors in winter safely.

Watch out, thieves about!

Clevedon Marine Lake has long had a trusting community where swimmers think nothing of leaving their bags on the side while they go for a swim. However, just recently there have been reports of thefts, which are making lake users think twice about where they leave their valuables.

Being careful

Of course, in an ideal world, nobody would feel the need to steal. But by not leaving valuables where they can be taken, we can help reduce the temptation.

We recommend:

  • leaving your valuables at home or in the car
  • using a dry bag like these to keep your valuables with you while you’re in the water
  • bringing a buddy to look after your things
  • swimming/paddleboarding/canoeing close to the side where you’ve left your stuff
  • keeping an eye on other people’s stuff while they’re in the water

It’s worth remembering that swimming alone or long distances in the winter isn’t to be recommended. For information on safe cold water swimming, read this.

Spare clothes

These thefts are still rare. But one swimmer was unlucky enough to have all his kit taken, including his dry clothes. So, a group of local swimmers have donated spare towels and clothes which will be kept in the Salthouse so that if anyone else finds themselves in this situation, they will at least have something warm and dry to put on.

If you find some of your stuff has been stolen, please email info@clevedonmarinelake.co.uk and also report the theft to the police.

Why no dogs?

Did you know that Clevedon Marine Lake has a strict no dogs policy? We take a look at the reasons why.

With so many great walks around Poet’s Walk and the Salthouse Fields, it’s tempting to take your dog to the marine lake. But we don’t allow dogs in the water or around the lower promenade by the lake at any time of the year. This is for a number of reasons, not least to keep the lake clean and safe for swimmers, paddlers and bathers.

Dirty dogs

You might keep your dog well-groomed, but dogs are hairy and nasties including pollen, dirt and faecal matter get trapped in their coats. Dogs in the water will introduce parasites and germs such as E.coli that affect humans and sea creatures.

But it’s not just dogs in the water that’s a problem. If your dog pees and poos on the lakeside that poses a risk to the water quality in the lake as it washes in or is transferred on people’s feet. It also poses a risk to those who sit, change, and sunbathe and to children playing.

Swimming and paddling-boarding in the lake are activities vital to people’s health and wellbeing all year round. We work very hard to keep the water as clean as possible, as well as the area around the lake, and it costs us around £20k a year and many hours of voluntary work. Keeping your dog away is an easy way to help keep our lake clean.

“When the lake’s closed because of water quality issues, not only do people lose out on the activities that help them feel good, but also coaches lose out on earnings and it costs lots of time and money to empty and clean the lake,” says Rowan Clarke who coaches swimming at the marine lake. “It’s frustrating to see people walking their dogs around the lower promenade or letting them go in the water. I have a dog myself, but I leave her at home when I go to the lake.”

Unlike the sea, which ebbs and flows all the time, the marine lake is a small body of water that only refreshes once a month or so. That makes it even more vulnerable to pollution.

Dogs: not every man’s best friend

You may love your dog, but not everybody feels the same. Some people don’t like dogs, while others are scared of them or are allergic to dogs. These people will often find places to go where dogs are banned. This is another reason to avoid bringing your dog to the lake.

Keeping dogs safe

The lake has good access for people, but not for dogs. The lip around the edge makes it difficult for a dog to climb out, and that could spell trouble if your dog falls or jumps in.

“I was coaching once and an excitable spaniel came running down to the lake and leapt in,” says Rowan. “Luckily, he was wearing a harness and he was quite light so I could pull him out!”

It’s much better to take your dog where they start off in their depth and the water gets gradually deeper. Here are some good tips on keeping your dog safe in and around water.

You could be fined

North Somerset Council have put a dog ban order in place at Clevedon Marine Lake. That means that you could be fined £80 for bringing your dog to the lake.

If you’re visiting Clevedon, you take your dog on the beach by the Little Harp and Layde Bay all year round. There are lovely walks around Poet’s Walk, and dogs are welcome in the Salthouse pub and on Clevedon Pier.

Dog-Friendly Britain is a great resource for finding places to go with your four-legged friend.

Lake closed for draining

We will be closing Clevedon Marine Lake on Sunday, October 4th 2020 until Thursday, October 15th. During this time, we will drain all the water from the lake and bring in the digger to remove as much silt as possible. We will also mend a broken penstock and do other essential cleaning and maintenance work.

The lower promenade around the lake will be out of bounds from October 5th to 9th.

Why are we draining the lake?

Clevedon has the third highest tidal range in the world. Along with strong currents, the huge tides stop the silt in the Bristol Channel from settling — that’s why the Bristol Channel looks brown! When the tide comes over the lake wall, it brings silt, which settles on the lake bed. If we don’t remove the silt, it’ll build up and the lake will get shallower. It’s also important for better water quality that we remove the mud.

Who cleans and maintains the lake?

A charity called Marlens (Marine Lake Enthusiasts) looks after the lake. It raises funds to pay for the licence to remove the silt, hire a digger and pay for its maintenance. Marlens is run by volunteers, and everyone who lends a hand with the cleaning and maintenance is also a volunteer.

We need your help

Many hands make light work. If would like to get stuck in and help with the cleaning we welcome helpers of all ages (under 16s must have a grown-up helper with them). Please email volunteer@clevedonmarinelake.co.uk

We also need to raise funds to pay for this vital work. It costs about £20k a year to keep the lake in tip-top condition, so please consider becoming a friend of the lake, donating or joining our lottery.

Bank holiday water quality excellent

The latest water sample taken to the lab on August 24th showed that the water quality in Clevedon Marine Lake was once again excellent.

Thanks to the volunteers who take the water samples and clean and tidy the lake. You can help by:

  • Not taking your dog to the lake — dogs carry bacteria that’s harmful to human health
  • Taking home your litter
  • Volunteering to help litter pick and clean
  • Donating to Clevedon Marine Lake

Water quality is excellent

One day closure: Thursday 20th August

Open 24-7 almost every day of the year, Clevedon Marine Lake will have rare day off tomorrow, Thursday 20th August 2020. The lake will be drained of all its water so that we can look for lost property, clean and maintain the underwater parts of the structure and allow the water to be refreshed by the incoming tide. We expect the lake to be full again by 9.30am on Friday 21st August.

From 2pm, it’ll be all hands on deck for the big clean. We rely on volunteers to pick up rubbish and lost property, clean seaweed from the steps and railings and clean in and around the lake. If you would like to help, please bring wellies and gloves. Email volunteer@clevedonmarinelake.co.uk to find out more.

If you believe you’ve lost something in the lake, please come along from 2pm to look or email info@clevedonmarinelake.co.uk

It takes a lot of work and money to keep the lake in tip-top condition. Please donate, become a friend of the lake or join our lottery.

Clevedon relay swimmers cover the English Channel distance x4!

Thunderstorms, glow-in-the-dark plankton, eels and night swimming; just some of the features of Clevedon Marine Lake’s epic relay! Over 24-hours, 3 teams totalling 44 swimmers swam 150km (93 miles) and raised £3.4k for charity.

The swimming event for summer 2020

If you went down to the lake between 5pm on Thursday, 13th and 5pm on Friday 14th, you might have seen the 24-hour super-relay swimmers. With all our usual events cancelled this summer because of Covid-19, this was our chance to come together to take part in an event and raise vital funds.

The event was so 2020, with one member of each team swimming an hour-long slot at a time to keep socially distanced. But, while each person swam, the support from the rest of the team online was huge, which brought to together the whole swimming community in a big team effort.

Some swimmers put in an hour-long swim, while others did more, including Becca who swam an incredible 13km over eight hours. “It was such a wonderful 24-hours,” said Becca, who stayed for the whole time. “It really pulled the community together again. And it gave me my confidence back showing me that I can do more than I know.”

Becca wasn’t the only one who got a much-needed boost. “I got in the water with no ambition other than to enjoy an hour in the lake, but I discovered that I could actually swim continuously rather than having to keep stopping,” said Jo, who swam 2.1km in her hour-long slot. “That gave me back some of the confidence I lost over lockdown.”

“I have never swum more than four lengths in a row and yesterday I was doing 10 at a time,” said Leander, who swam four legs. “I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to swim for an hour straight and I did four hours! Feeling very happy.”

Night swimming

For others, it was the experience of swimming in the dark that was extra special. Lit by candles in lanterns, fairy lights and torches inside tow-floats, the lake looked magical. But the swimmers didn’t have the lake to themselves. Many felt eels and fish brushing up against them, and they also saw phosphorescence, tiny, glow-in-the-dark organisms that live in coastal waters.

“I had such a fabulously memorable swim during my midnight to 1am slot on the 24hr relay in the lake,” said Jeremy who swam with his partner, Sue. “It was an odd thing to do I think; swimming in a sea pool with just a couple of others, in the middle of a dark night, deliberately missing sleep, and paying for the privilege. Finished just before the lightning arrived too!”

It was the arrival of thunder ad lightning that hit pause on the relay at 1.15am. But as soon as it was safe, the swim started again to carry on through to dawn.

Helping to save a charity

The 24-hour relay was part of a UK-wide event called Lakes for Level Water. Lakes across the country held challenges and raised money for the charity Level Water. Like many charities, Level Water’s fundraising has been badly affected by the coronavirus crisis, and its future was looking bleak. But, thanks to the efforts of outdoor swimmers, it has raised enough money to teach disabled children vital swimming skills in 25 pools next year.

Over the weekend of August 15th and 16th, swimmers set their own goals to complete. One such pair, Garry and Maria, took part in both events, swimming an astonishing 21km each over the four days.

“We did it; 21km+ over the weekend,” said Garry who first started swimming outdoors in May following the closure of swimming pools. “Six months ago I’d have never thought I’d be here doing this. I’m proud to have achieved the distances we did. I’m proud to be associated with dedicated and driven people at Clevedon Marine Lake who accomplished whatever challenge they set themselves over the weekend. And I feel inspired by the people celebrating their successes, no matter how big or small. We all have our own personal Mount Everest to climb.”

The Clevedon Marine Lake team has raised £3.4k so far. That’s £2700 for Level Water and £680 towards keeping the lake open, clean and accessible for all. “Accessibility is very important to us,” said Joe Norman, Chair of Marlens, the charity that looks after the lake. “We have a level promenade around the lake, sloped access for wheelchairs and broad metal steps with railings for entering and exiting the water. We have recently installed more benches so people can sit to change or to be next to the water. It’s fantastic that Level Water can give children with disabilities the swimming skills that so many of us take for granted. And the funds that the swimmer have raised for Clevedon Marine Lake will help us keep the lake accessible for as many people as possible to enjoy.”

You can still donate. Just click here to find the team’s page and add your donation.

Night swimming with a tow float and lantern

Proud swimmers finish their swim

A tired swimmer finishes the final swim of the 24-hour relay

24-hour super relay and lake challenge!

The challenge is set! This weekend, swimmers will be taking to Clevedon Marine Lake to raise vital funds for Level Water, the charity that teaches children vital swimming skills.
The weekend will see two socially distanced events. The first is a 24-hour relay that begins at 5pm on Thursday 13th August and finishes at 5pm on Friday 14th. During the 24-hour relay, three teams will swim in hour-long slots throughout the day and night.
The second event will involve swimmers completing their own challenges across the weekend of August 15th and 16th. So far, fifteen team members have registered to take part, raising just over £1,000. This event is part of a nation-wide campaign that has, so far, raised £40k for Level Water.
The 24-hour relay
You can still register to take part by clicking here to fill in the registration form, following the link to add your name to the spreadsheet and either donating to Team Clevedon or setting up your own page as part of the team. There will be a gazebo base camp to store your kit (not for shelter due to social distancing) and buoys along the 250m sea wall to use as a swim lane.
  • Night swimmers: please make sure you have lights of your own and someone to keep an eye on you.
  • All swimmers swim at their own risk. You are responsible for ensuring that you maintain social distancing and use hand santiser where needed.
Swim challenge

To take part, you need to register as a team member on the Team Clevedon JustGiving page by clicking here. You can then:

  1. Pick your challenge: it could be a distance or to swim constantly for a length of time
  2. Pick your time and turn up: when you swim is up to you.
  3. The buoys and signs will remain in place, but please remember that the lake is still open to the public.
  4. Recording your swim is up to you, too!
Hats and prizes!
Level Water has put together an impressive array of prizes for those raising funds through both challenges:
Raise over £50
  • A Swim Secure waterproof phone bag
Raise over £100
  • A Swim Secure waterproof phone bag
  • Entry into a prize drawn to win a 2XU Wetsuit

Raise over £200

  • All of the above, plus…
  • An Alpkit Day Tripper Thermos

Top fundraiser per lake

  • A Swim Secure Wild Swim Bag
  • A special edition Level Water beanie

Top 3 fundraisers overall

  • A custom, UK made duffle bag from Alpkit designed to your specification
  • The brand new ‘Haven’ changing robe from Alpkit
  • A 2XU Wetsuit of your choice
  • A Finisterre insulated blanket
  • An Outdoor Swimming Society hammam towel
  • An Alpkit Day Tripper Thermos
Vital funds

Level Water has so far raised a staggering £40k nationally. That’s 15 pools giving life-changing lessons for kids with disabilities for a year. Like many charities, Level Water has been badly affected by the Coronavirus crisis. The vital funding raised by this event gives the charity and the many children who might otherwise not get the chance to learn to swim a bright future.

And 20% of whatever we raise as Team Clevedon will go back to our lake to keep it running for us all.
Please note: the lake will remain open to the public throughout both events. If you’re not taking part, please come and give the swimmers your support! 

August’s lottery winners

This month’s lucky lottery winners are:

1st £140 Rich Haslock
2nd £70  Pete Moseley
3rd £30 Helen Mehta

We are now up to £240 prize money each month and £240 for Marlens. Another four members and the lottery will be raising £3000 per annum for the lake, and bring the monthly prize money up to £250 each month. Make a difference to your bank account and the marine lake by joining in! To join, click here.

Good luck! September’s draw will take place on Saturday, September 5th 2020.