“I soon reached Eye, where I leant the bike beside the Abbey bridge over the River Dove and clambered down the bank to a pool almost directly below the brick arch, hidden by the road from the parapet…two frayed and much–knotted ropes still dangled from a tall Scots pine.” Luke and I have traipsed about half a mile out of Eye before we realise we’ve gone in completely the wrong direction. We… Read More

“I turned and looked back towards the shore and the curious collection of bungalows that lined the seafront, lit by the dying reflected sunlight, their wooden clapboarding picked out in garish colours.” It’s election day in Jaywick. Polling stations seem quiet where we pass them, the face of the main candidate grinning awkwardly from the side of a bus as we drive through Clacton and out to this strange little place on… Read More

“I went off to swim in Adventurer’s Fen in a pool at the junction of Burwell Lode and Reach Lode. I went in across a raft of reeds and subsided rather than dived into the half–clear green water. It was surprisingly shallow; only three to five feet, with a soft, black mud bottom.” Feeling cleansed and clear of mind after my swim at High Point, I felt ready to strike out from… Read More

“By the time we were into the black water it was just after midnight. There would have been a moon, but there was too much cloud. Nosing through the luxurious water, we swam under a faint curtain of rising steam that hung just an inch or two above the surface.” Smudgy grey cloud has already darkened the day, and as I emerge onto North Hill, I’m cast further into shadow. The white… Read More

“I went in off a concrete slipway and swam downstream between banks of trees in water that was still and soupy, but smelled clean enough. The bow–wave I made stretched in a wide arrowhead from bank to bank.” Pulling into Poole, the last whiff of summer carries across the salty harbour. It is warm and clear, the perfect day for a dip in one of Dorset’s most well–loved rivers: the Stour. I… Read More

“I wondered how many walkers must have slid into these tempting waters, remote and hidden though they are. Sunlight reflected back off the rounded white rocks on the bottom, and soft cushions of fine, tight grass and thyme were scattered languidly around the margins.” The thought of a proper, skin–tingling swim after the visceral ride into the bowels of Hell Gill is all too much as we pull up on the verge… Read More

“I couldn’t help it. I began to slide into the mouth of the abyss itself. I found myself in the first of a series of smooth limestones cups four or five feet in diameter…stepped at an acute down a flooded gulley of hollow limestone that spiralled into the unknown.” At every stage of this retracing of Waterlog, one swim in particular has always come up among fellow Deakin acolytes. Hell Gill. This… Read More

“On a bend in the river below the abbey ruins, there is a wide sandy beach and I fully expected to see John The Baptist rise up amongst the bathers and bless them all for having the sense and self–reliance for going swimming in the wild.” The beach below Bolton Abbey’s hollow shell is deserted as the gate thunks behind us and we take the bridge over the Wharfe. It’s a dank… Read More

“I followed a rim of doughnut rocks to the white sands of Great Popplestones Bay. Apart from a solitary sun worshipper out of sight at the far end of the bay, I was alone. It was still April, and the swimming season could hardly be said to have begun.” Stocked up on pasties and San Pellegrino lemonade, Molly and I tread carefully down the stone steps and onto the waiting Firethorn ready… Read More

“One of my most vivid images from childhood is of the six Pullman camping coaches silhouetted against the sea at dawn, seen through the window of the night–sleeper from Paddington to Penzance.” The only camping coaches between Penzance and Marazion today are high–sided motor homes. Roger’s Pullman train carriages are long gone, no longer simply ‘shockingly dilapidated’, but taken away to the great breakers’ yard in the sky. Instead, skin singing after… Read More

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