(By Kelvin Collins)
Mike Durkin isn’t exactly wild, but the environments he swims in often are.
Mike was a keen fell runner for many years but the strain was beginning to tell on his knees, and a few years back he turned to swimming instead. Since then he has swam most of the accessible lakes in Cumbria and further afield too.
As the head chef at The Best Western Ambleside Salutation Hotel Mike’s work environment is a hot and busy kitchen, so the serene calm of the lakes provides a welcome contrast.
We wanted to capture that contrast in the short film we made as part of the Youtube series that also includes the Baker of Arran, The Hotel Vintner, The Guest Who Refused to Leave and The Rambler’s Revenge.
While Mike’s swimming activities don’t necessarily affect the personality of the hotel, it is typical of Best Western to show personality not only through its wide variety of hotels, but also through the interesting characters who work in those hotels. Get Mike onto the subject of his outside environment and he’ll willingly talk you through the many beautiful lakes and tarns in the area, how to walk to them, and which are the coldest, or indeed the warmest, to swim.
We called Mike The Wild Man of Windermere, but for the purpose of the filming we went a few miles north to the beautiful little Rydal Water, a smaller lake that is both supplied and drained by the river Rothay, and favourite of William Wordsworth. It is a lot quieter and enabled us to get the footage we needed without disturbing anyone, or indeed without being disturbed.
Photographer Alex Telfer took stills and film footage of Mike back in October when the water wasn’t too cold (I swam a width just to check!). Alex used a GoPro camera on a boom to capture the under water film, editing that material together with footage from his new Leica M and stills from the PhaseOne.
You can watch the footage on the Best Western GB’s channel on Youtube where you’ll also find all five films.
We stayed at The Best Western Ambleside Salutation Hotel and were wonderfully well looked after by general manager Paul Cookson and his team.
It says a lot for this lovely 49 room hotel that we have all booked weekend stays with partners and family since then too. The hotel commands a view over the thriving town and is at the heart of the English lakes. Oozing with personality, its high point for many is the spa, but for me it was the excellent breakfast – that even included a tot of whiskey for your porridge should you so desire! Why not check it out for yourselves?