“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

“I biked down from Chalk Farm to the Royal Automobile Club at 97 Pall Mall carrying my swimming gear in my usual grey canvas rucksack…The long, green pool was a magnificent, high–ceilinged Byzantine affair, all turquoise mosaic pillars and wide terrazzo floors. The pool was edged with marble and a fine spray of tepid water played on the surface at the shallow end.” Two things in life make me feel exceedingly awkward…. Read More

“I arrived in the mid–morning on an enchanting south–facing grassy hillside, swooping down to the riverside through a sheltered little water meadow almost within sight of the old castle at Farleigh…There wasn’t a soul about; everyone was at work, but I had been told to help myself to a swim anyway.” The path stops dead about a mile out of Trowbridge. From here on, it’s a case of nestling as close as… Read More

“I passed through the elegant ironwork gateway of the Henleaze Swimming Club and straight into the 1920s. The lake shone like a river by banks of weeping willows and well–kept lawns dotted with little groups of sun–bathers. It was long and deep, as though it flowed between the canyon walls of the old quarry.” The dark clouds reflect my stinking mood as the train pulls into Bristol Temple Meads. After the impish fun… Read More

“I began the day with the nearest thing to a spa experience still available in the town…an early dip in the classic Sandford Lido, opened in 1935 when open-air swimming was at its height…I had the satisfying experience of being first in, diving into the smoothness and swimming a whole length alone.” Sandford Parks Lido is a seething mass of people as we push through the turnstile and stop at the bubbling… Read More

“Next morning in cloudy Cirencester, Betty, the lady at the turnstile of the heated outdoor pool, took my £2 as I crossed the little river on an old iron footbridge…I hastened into the deliciously soft, warm water and set about swimming my mile.” Tom and I are very much among company as we hand over £4.50 each and walk along the side of Cirencester Open Air pool and into the breeze block… Read More

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