“I drove on west … through Salters Lode and Nordelph to Well Creek, where I bathed in the Middle Level Drain in the evening sunshine.” The rumble of an HGV is the only sound I can hear as I slip off of the retaining wall and into Middle Level Main Drain. Plastic bottles, clinging to the waters edge, bob and slurp as I push myself against the current and into the main… Read More

“I arrived at Hathersage in time for a pre–lunch dip in the village swimming pool, an open–air, heated lido set high on a hillside with spectacular views of the Peaks on all sides.” There’s steam rising as I skip up the narrow steps of Hathersage Swimming Pool, hand over my entrance fee and catch sight of the water for the first time. The day is grey and foggy, the temperature on the… Read More

“The deep, natural water of the Highgate Men’s Pond the following day was considerably colder than the cosseted High Point pool had been at the end of September. It is a marvellous second–best to Highgate Ladies’ Pond for a swim.” The temperature was up and London felt giddy. And so I slung my still–damp swimming shorts and a towel in my rucksack and jumped on the train to Kentish Town, walking briskly… Read More

“A vigorous mill–race sped through one of the arches, darting its turbulence far out into a wide black pool which whirled evenly between dense banks of reeds and watercress. It could have been a scene from Constable. I had arrived at John’s Water.” OS Map perched on my knee, we trundle down the single track road, the River Bure burbling to our right. Spotting the Mill Cottage and then the open–fronted cart… Read More

“We made for the surf across the almost deserted beach and half–waded, half–walked into the sun towards Scolt Head and Burnham Overy Staithe” Lifting ourselves over the dunes, Burnham Overy Staithe behind us, we get our first peep across the empty beach on this wild stretch of north Norfolk coastline. We’ve ambled along the dyke for an hour, spotting oystercatchers and little egrets picking their way through Overy Marsh, battling the brisk… Read More

    “Five minutes out of the village down a waterside path, I was alone in the meadows on the brink of a wide, cold-water swimming hole, scene of the noisy reunion of the wandering offspring of Mother Test. Slightly to my surprise, there were no fishermen about, so I hurled myself straight in. The water made me gasp.” The sun completes its disappearing act just as we finish cobbling together our… Read More

“I drove out of Lincolnshire across country, past Sherwood Forest and Nottingham, to the southern extremities of the English highlands in the Peak District of Derbyshire, where the rivers Derwent, Wye and Dove flow down to join the Trent in the Humber at Hull.” The air is damp as we pull on our boots for the short tramp from the front door of our sprawling holiday home in the middle of Edale… Read More

“Scaling the sand dunes, I ran down the deserted beach, flung off my clothes and waded into the surf.” Light winds, leaden skies and brown, churning sea. Walberswick in late October. Past the public loos, through the warren of beach huts, over the dunes and onto the beach. After weeks without a swim, my cast finally off and my wrist free, I should feel more energised about going for a dip. Instead,… Read More

    “When I had first seen the words ‘Raised Beaches’ on the map, recurring like an incantation, forming a ribbon along the western shores of Jura, I immediately wanted to tramp over to this wilderness and explore them.” Past the Inver estate office, up a car-wide track, clad head-to-toe in waterproofs, we stride out towards west Jura. A light rain whips across the sound from nearby Islay, as deer gawp at… Read More

“The next swim, from a wooden landing stage of a boathouse on a little trout loch nestling in a purple bowl of hills, was a sheer delight. This loch had a shallow end, where the burn flowed in, and a deep end where it was dammed by a stone wall and flowed down a salmon ladder into the sea.” The briefest of breaks in the horizontal rain gives us our chance. Scrambling… Read More

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