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Lakes swimmer takes on ten tarns for Grasmere’s red squirrels

Elaine Taylor getting ready to dive in. Picture: Elaine Taylor

This summer Elaine Taylor set herself the challenge of swimming the length of 10 Lake District tarns, her aim? To raise £1000 for Grasmere’s red squirrels.

Over the course of 6 weeks Elaine swam the length of 10 Lake Districts tarns, braving the open water, from lowland tarns like Loughrigg to the more lofty setting of Stickle tarn in Langdale and Alcock tarn in Grasmere.

She completed the challenge last Wednesday with a bracing swim in School Knott tarn.

Elaine said: “I started in July and have managed to complete two swims every week bar one when the lightning put a hold on things, it’s been a challenge but I have loved every minute of it.”

Elaine is a keen open water swimmer, she regularly dons her wetsuit and takes to the water in Rydal and Grasmere.

“It’s a great way to keep fit and I love the adrenalin hit that I get from that first rush of cold water when I get in. Swimming in Loughrigg tarn is a particular favourite of mine, it is an amazing feeling swimming in the open air with views of the Langdale Pikes in the distance.” She added.

Every time Elaine swims in the wild she follows the CFINNS guidance to prevent the spread of freshwater hitchhikers by following a simple three step process every time she leaves any pond, stream or lake: CHECK, CLEAN and DRY.

Red squirrel feeding at Allan Bank in Grasmere. Picture: National Trust

The money that Elaine raises will go towards supporting the National Trust’s red squirrel and countryside conservation work in Grasmere. The team at the National Trust work hard alongside the Grasmere Red Squirrel Group to make the grounds at Allan Bank a red squirrel’s ideal home, spending over £900.00 on feed every year.

Elaine grew up near Formby, where she would regularly see red squirrels scampering about, and since moving to the Lake District to manage the National Trust’s Allan Bank in Grasmere, her appreciation for red squirrels has grown.

“Allan Bank is one of the few places you can still see red squirrels in the Lakes, I love to see the joy that they bring to our visitors, particularly the kids as they spot their first ever red squirrel. I think it’s important that we do all we can to ensure their survival into the future,” she said.

Once a popular sight in England and across the UK, and the UK’s only native squirrel species, the red squirrel is now suffering a major decline. Since the introduction of the North American grey squirrel in the 1870’s, numbers of red squirrels have dropped from around three and a half million to an estimated 120,000. It’s thought that there are around 15,000 red squirrels in England, and happily some of those call Grasmere their home.

Donate to the appeal and help Elaine hit her £1000 target.

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