Photo by James Kirby
Fay Preene is a wild swimmer, runner, all-round outdoorsy girl and creator of Lulu Wild, the beautiful handmade headwear brand.
We caught up with Fay to find out a little bit more about her, dive into our chat below.
Where are you based?
I am based in the central Lake District and my usual swim spot on Lake Windermere is just a short walk from my house - I feel extremely fortunate and still have to pinch myself most days! I am originally from North Yorkshire but relocated to the Lakes 4 years ago.
Have you always been outdoorsy?
Yes! I have always loved the outdoors and especially water - be that being in it, on it, beside it or listening to it. Moving to the Lake District alone was a big move but one that I was positive about due to spending so much time here throughout my life; it was a home away from home. My love of the outdoors has definitely been magnified since moving to the Lakes. Living here has meant that I get to spend my time outside of work enjoying the beauty of the Lake District, whether that’s swimming in the various bodies of water or running across the fells.
Photo by James Kirby
Tell us about a typical adventure day in your life.
I love summer and winter adventure days and they both bring their great qualities. A typical summer adventure would be setting out really early for a long fell run and cooling off in whatever water we come across. Kit on these days is simple – your running kit is your swimming kit! I think that’s the great thing about the Lakes, you are always close to water. There is something really freeing about running across the fells but also pulling up to various water edges and getting straight in to cool off before continuing your run. I love the no faff of these adventures. Alternatively, winter adventure days are breathtaking. I love a hike to a high mountain tarn in the search for ice. These days definitely take more preparation kit wise though, especially from a safety point of view. There is something really special about swimming in the ice, it’s not just the few minutes that you are in the ice itself there but the preparation and journey there.
What’s in your swim kit bag?
Much like my adventures, my kit varies from summer to winter. Winter sees my trusty Dry Robe, thick layers, bobble hat, neoprene socks and hot water bottle. Summer is much simpler. I tend to run down to the lake in the summer so I just take the basics! Towel, swim cap and goggles. Despite the seasons, I always take a hot drink and swim secure tow float with me. I have a copy of the Little Wild Swimming Book that you stock which is really beautiful, I got bought this as a gift from a friend. I have also been eyeing up your beautiful quick dry towels!
Tell us about your most memorable wild swim.
There truly are too many that spring to mind! This winter I did a shoot for a swimming brand at a beautiful high mountain tarn which we ran up to. The weather was beautiful and bright but the water was icy cold – I clearly remember the feeling of the sun on my face and the cold water on my body. We got some underwater shots which turned out beautifully because the water was so clear and the sun was beaming through. It was a really special swim and one to remember!
Photo by James Kirby
Where is on your wild swim wish list?
I haven’t been to Cornwall since I was young and I would love to head down that way for lots of beautiful sea swimming and costal pool dips! I follow a lot of people online from that way and it looks truly beautiful and very different to the lake. I would love to do some more loch swimming in Scotland too!
Any tips for beginners to wild swimming?
Buddy up! It’s really helpful and a lot safer to head for your first swim with an experienced outdoor swimmer. They will grow your confidence and make you feel supported too. Also, don’t be tough on yourself! Showing up and giving it a go is an amazing start – don’t get het up on how long you are in or how far you swam.
Where did the idea for your headbands come about?
My Grandma taught me to knit years ago but it’s something that I hadn’t done for years. The product idea started after overhearing a friend describe something she could not find for her outdoor adventures, which bridged style and comfort. During lockdown, Lulu Wild was unknowingly started after experimenting with cosy wool and chunky knitting patterns, creating a new headband for a friend. What started as a headband for a friend, became requests from others, and the start of a brand, which continues to grow and develop.
How long does it take you to make one headband?
It’s hard to know how long from start to finish it takes me to make one because I quickly learnt that it’s quicker in stages! First I knit the headbands so that they are just long strips, then I connect each headband together so that they become circular. Following this I add all of the vegan leather tags and Lulu Wild tag. Then last but not least I wrap them all in tissue paper and sticker them. For the most part, I have the TV on whilst knitting but when it comes to adding the tags etc I place myself at the kitchen table!
Tell us about your adorable dog Lulu, she is the cutest thing ever!
Lulu is a pedigree golden working cocker spaniel who has never worked a day in her life! She is my right hand girl, adventure buddy, lifeguard and all round amazing dog. She is 2 years old and we got her from just a short drive away – Lake District born and bred! She goes everywhere with me and I can’t imagine life without her. She loves to be down by the lake when I’m swimming and often sits on my clothes and watches me in the water. When I was thinking of what to call my brand the name ‘Lulu Wild’ was one of the first ideas that popped into my head. It just felt right and incorporated the things that I love the most – her and the outdoors.