“Next morning I drove out of Wales through the Black Mountains to the Malvern Hills in search of springs and open air pools.” Like Roger, Tom and I are high and dry on the Malvern Hills. Fences and warning signs are everywhere as we walk to the end of a dead end lane and reach Gullet Quarry. A family picnic down by the water’s edge, two labradors frolicking in the deep, cold… Read More

“I was on my way south from Edinburgh along the Northumbrian coast, where I came to the sands of Bamburgh beach, once trodden by the early Celtic Christians from Iona. In a flat calm sea I took a long, cold–water swim straight out towards the Farne Islands, almost hidden in the lead grey mist.” Keeley and I each suck on an extra strong mint proffered by the taxi driver as the car… Read More

“As the tide receded, Camber was all sand–pools, lagoons and impromptu sand rivers snaking to the tideline…The sea, brown with churned sand, was marginally warmer than at Dungeness, but still cold.” The pop of rifle fire crackles over the never–ending breeze as we cycle past the MOD firing range and back towards Camber. The bike ride to Dungeness had been fun, if a touch blustery, but this is pure torture. In low… Read More

“Thirty feet below the raised beach, down a steep bank of pebbles, this stretch of the English channel looked calm but a long way off, like water at the bottom of a well. I clattered down several tiers of stones and, quite alone in the mist, dived out into deep water.” My Medway failure was frustrating and has left me desperate to make the most of the last of the summer’s good… Read More

“…to tell the truth, I was really quite nervous about this swim. This was my first big industrial river, running right through the heart of the most densely populated part of Kent.” As soon as I catch my first glimpse of the Medway, I know I won’t be swimming across it. There’s a sweaty summer heat, school holiday fever buzzing through the riverside park as parents and kids slurp on mid–morning ice… Read More

“I was never going to find a canal in better weather conditions than this, so I stopped the car, crossed a field to a lock, and went up the towpath to a quiet spot, wondering about old bicycles, prams and supermarket trolleys on the canal bed. I didn’t dive. I went into the chocolate water feet first…” After the disappointment of failing to find the tufa pool on Cowside Beck, the thought… Read More

“At length I came upon a small spinney of ash by the banks, and the promising sound of a waterfall. And there, just below, was the elusive tufa pool and the sparkle of animated water chasing its tail around it…I stripped and dived in. It was so cold I might have flung myself into a bed of nettles.” After my stolen swim at Beezley, Dave slowly inches the car up the ‘cruel… Read More

“That evening, I swam alone at night fall in one of the village swimming holes: the black pool below the beezley Falls on the River Doe. The falls drop twenty feet down rock walls to a deep pool with wooded cliffs rising perpendicular either side of it for forty feet.” Stuffed after a supremely unhealthy lunch at the cavers’ cafe in Ingleton, limbs quietly throbbing following my quick smart dip at the… Read More

“I discovered another village pool three days later, in the Yorkshire Dales at Ingleton, built by the village miners in 1933. All the labour was voluntary, and the open–air pool was originally filled by a pipe running down from River Doe beside it.” We arrive in Ingleton from Kirkby Lonsdale as the sun burns off the last of the clouds. I’ve two swims lined up and I can hear the rush of… Read More

“At Kirkby Lonsdale that afternoon, a hot wind ruffled the blanket of Virginia creeper on the walls of the Royal Hotel by the town square…I swam down past the town parkland, then in faster water that surged through giant dark–grey boulders towards the stone–arched devil’s bridge.” Two bikers scoff bacon butties on the dry–stone wall, their beards ruffled slightly by a light breeze. Grabbing the rucksacks from the boot of the car,… Read More

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