Swan Lake: Meet the paddle-boarder who's made some unlikely friends on Ullswater

  • Video report by Matt Taylor.


A paddle-boarder has been showing total dedication to helping out a group of swans in the Lake District.

Andy Butcher made a unique connection with the birds last summer when he ventured out onto on Ullswater, near Penrith.

The swans started following him when they were young cygnets so he decided to feed them - and he's been giving them their breakfast ever since.

Andy takes to Ullswater on his paddle-board most days to feed swans. Credit: ITV News

Speaking to ITV Border, he said: "Initially I would come here to paddle-board and swim and I love doing that. I made this connection with these wonderful swans, so now the prime reason I come is to meet up with my new found friends.

"Now they wait for me in the morning and I come to see them. They recognise my car when I pull into the carpark and we spend about four or five hours together until they've had enough of me and tell me it's time to go."

He has been feeding the birds almost every day for nine months special swan food. He says bread isn't good for them, and can produce algae in the water.

He spends around four to five hours with the swans. Credit: ITV News

Andy has become an attraction himself appearing on Channel 5's , Susan Calman's Grand Day Out - but it's the swans that he thinks are the real stars.

He said: "It's just an absolutely wonderful thing to connect with wild animals, like this. People tell me that there hasn't been a huge swan population round the lake.

"Something that has really pleased people is that they feel it's a good indication of the health of the lake that we're now seeing a bigger swan population."

Andy hopes that next year the one-year-old birds will pair up and produce little cygnets of their own.