Charity fundraisers are in search of increasingly challenging ways to raise money. But when Wayne Singleton decided on a long-distance swim along the entire coast of Cumbria, his initial planning failed to take jellyfish into account.
Wayne will be heading into the Irish Sea at the Solway estuary and aiming to swim more than 80 nautical miles to Silverdale on the Lancashire coast for Brathay Trust, a multi-faceted social enterprise that aims to improve young people’s lives.
He’s aiming to do the challenge in late summer (5 September) and will be out at sea for between seven and ten days depending on tides and weather conditions, covering an average of ten miles a day, with six hours in the water and six hours rest. It’s taken two years of training, logistical planning that has military precision, lots of help from friends and colleagues, and several encounters with very large jellyfish.
“I thought that I had everything under control with the planning and with my schedule,” he says. “But the jellyfish seem to be bigger than ever this season, and they’re not pleasant companions!”
A channel alternative
Wayne is a HR manager, mountain leader, event compere and podcast host, and had hoped to swim across the Channel before the age of 50 after completing the 11-mile length of Windermere a year ago. He raised £3,270 for Brathay Trust on that occasion. But post-lockdown there’s been a long waiting list of available support boats, so Wayne looked for an alternative challenge.
“This particular route hasn’t been done before as one swim, though Sean Conway has swum the entire west coast from Land’s End to John o’Groats in four months,” says Wayne. “Ross Edgley has actually swam all the way around the island of Great Britain in five months. But this will have a defined entry and exit point so that it can become the focus of a challenge for others in the future.”
Support at sea
Wayne will start at Bowness on Solway, swimming into the River Eden and out into the Irish Sea, finishing at Silverdale where there’s an access road near Holgates caravan park. He will be supported by kayak paddlers, and will have more substantial boat support for the final section of the journey beyond Barrow, around Walney Island and across Lancaster Sound. He’s been training in Windermere and Coniston as well as off the Cumbrian coast near his home in Barrow.
He calls it an adventure, not an endurance swim, “so if one day I only manage one mile because of the conditions, it won’t be a problem.”
He’s been in contact with the local search and rescue organisations and HM Coastguard, who are all supportive of his plan, and says that friends have also been very enthusiastic. “I was hoping someone might tell me it’s a stupid idea.” He’s still looking for some sea kayak support, and also beds along the way when he comes ashore for rest periods. “In case anyone reading is interested, please get in touch.”
Along the way he’ll live on Ella’s Kitchen baby food pouches and Supernatural Fuel endurance energy. But the marine wildlife is what concerns him most: “I’ve not been stung by a jelly, but that’s only by chance as I had a barrel jellyfish wrapped around my arm and another around my leg recently. I’m learning a lot about jellyfish anatomy.”
Helping young people
It’s a crazy challenge as well as a difficult and complex adventure, but Wayne is driven by a passion to assist Brathay Trust, who help thousands of young people in real need every year.
“It’s all about supporting young people in Cumbrian communities who find themselves in challenging circumstances. I have seen first-hand the impact that this charity has on young people in my own community. They’re a brilliant local charity and one that I’ve grown closer to over the years as I do the event compere/MC work for their running events, including the ASICS Windermere marathon.”
Alongside this is the annual ten marathons in ten days which culminates in the Windermere race, all organised by Brathay. “This is such a source of inspiration and motivation for me every year, but I joke that I can’t do the 10-in-10 as I’m working the last day.” In fact, his running has been curtailed by a prolonged bout of long Covid, but this has not had any impact on his ability to swim great distances.
“Brathay is able to help thousands of disadvantaged children and young people each year due to the generosity of many funders and donors. Wayne has been a valued supporter of the Trust for many years and this huge challenge will raise funds to support local young people. It will also provide an opportunity to promote Brathay’s work across the county. We all look forward to following his progress and supporting him during the swim.”Scott Umpleby (fundraising manager at Brathay)