British brothers first to swim length of Cumbria’s River Eden

Yorkshire-born trio the ‘Wild Swimming Brothers’ have become the first people ever to swim the length of the River Eden from its source in the Cumbrian mountains to the sea – a journey of 145km.


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The three siblings Jack, Calum and Robbie Hudson took nine days to complete the challenge and finished last Sunday (23 August) in the Solway Firth, just south of Whitehaven. 

It wasn’t all smiles though – middle brother Calum, 25, picked up an ear infection in the latter stages of the challenge and struggled. “I thought the hardest thing was getting up early and putting on a cold wetsuit. But then I got a really bad ear infection about two days ago. So I found out that the combination of earache and spending 10 hours a day in cold river water were my two least favourite things.”

Berlin-based eldest brother Robbie, 27, added that the swim had been “a challenge”. Youngest brother Jack, 23, said it was an “incredible achievement”. The three siblings were on home territory though – they grew up in the Cumbrian village of Langwathby, mere metres from the River Eden.

“From its bubbling source in the mountains of Mallerstang, through the steep gorges and cascades of Hell Gill, past our old family home at Langwathby, the deep sandstone ravines and rapids of Armathwaite, to the wide floodplains of Carlisle and out into the mud flats, estuary and sands of the Solway Firth and the Irish Sea, we swam, scrambled, crawled, walked, jumped, climbed and floated every single inch,” said the brothers afterwards.

Their exploits have already raised £2,200 for The Swimming Trust, and are aiming for a total of £2,500 (donate here). Every penny of the money raised will be put back into swimming through setting up a bursary scheme in Cumbria to help more swimming teachers gain their level 2 qualification.

Three key takeaways

For all 220 readers inspired by the Wild Swimming Brothers’ exploits, they offer three tips for planning your own river swim:

1. Trek to the source of a river, It’s fascinating, bizarre and will give you a totally different perspective on them. The Eden bubbles up from the ground at the top of a mountain, a deep dark hole belching up murky brown water which flowed through a deep soggy bog before cascading down a ravine, truly awesome!

2. Never underestimate the power of duct tape.

3. There are adventures to be had in the places you least expect.

“We would like to say HUGE thank you’s to every single person that has helped, supported, fed, advised, housed, donated, given us fresh milk, kayaked, swam with us and been part of this adventure,” say Robbie, Calum and Jack.

“We’d like to give a special thank you to James Silson who was alongside us every single mile, we couldn’t have done it without him, an honorary brother! Also David Ronton who kayaked five full days with us and kept us motivated and supplied us with whisky.

“Also our Dad Ralph Hudson who was a crucial support car, all round fixer and cartographer. Finally our Mum Tina Wild who appeared countless times out of nowhere to rescue us when we were at our lowest points and in dire need of food and support. Truly a team effort and something we will never forget!”


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