It’s hard to say how this contest began or when – some people say it’s proof that King Arthur was from the Scottish Borders region; others believe that the contest only dates from the 1600s when women were thrown into lakes to determine whether they were a witch.

The Lady of the Lake contest takes place on the fourth Sunday in June at Crummock Water in the Lake District. Nowadays, the ten Ladies of the Lake are determined by numerous endurance contests at various swimming clubs in the Lake District. In olden times, when there were no such things as diving suits then everyone from the local village would take turns being the Lady, so as to stop anyone from getting hypothermia. When the water was really cold then the Lady of the Lake would sit on a log in the water.

Extract from 40 Humourous British Traditions