A BOY was saved when a bystander commandeered an inflatable canoe in a dramatic rescue.

Crowds applauded a man after he leapt to the rescue of the 10-year-old who came into difficulty in Wastwater.

Benjamin Whitaker, a 29-year-old sports assistant, was alerted after he saw an empty paddle floating in the water from the shore.

“I saw a paddle board floating in the strong currents some 300 metres away and assumed someone had let it go from further south,” said Mr Whitaker.

“It was only when someone shouted that a boy had fallen in that I stood up to look more closely. I could see nothing but an empty board floating fast with the currents.

"I considered jumping in to swim over, but at that distance I figured it could take up to 12 minutes and I just didn’t know if he could last out that long.”

Spotting an inflatable canoe belonging to some neighbouring visitors, Mr Whitaker asked if he could commandeer the craft to make a rescue.

Some six minutes later after shooting off as fast as his arms could row, Mr Whitaker was greeted with considerable relief from a young 10 year old boy with no life jacket and struggling to tread water.

Hauling the young chap into the canoe, and at a somewhat more leisurely pace, Benjamin returned the boy to his 12 year old brother and friends in a nearby cove who had been none the wiser.

Arriving back where he had first set off, the rescuer was greeted by applause from all those who had witnessed the drama unfold before them.

He told them: “I’ve hiked 10 miles, swum 800 metres and just saved a drowning boy - what a great day!”

Mr Whitaker stressed that at no point had his life been in danger and he simply did what anyone else would have done.

He added that as Wastwater is the deepest of all the Lakes with strong undercurrents, going out on a paddle board without any adult supervision, let alone a life jacket was ill-advised.

Mr Whitaker, from Great Glen in the East Midlands, said: “Had a radio been playing loudly on the shore, or the wind travelling upstream instead of down, no one would have heard his cries and this would have been a very different story.

"I’m just glad to have been a help and hope this serves as a warning to all visitors to the Lakes, ” Mr Whitaker said.

Wastwater is nearly three miles long and has a depth of nearly 300 feet.