“After supper I went back up the mountain and camped at the top end of a lake, Llyn Cwm Bychan, on a little sheep–mown peninsula where the river enters it… I woke to the beginnings of a fine day and bathed in the lake off my peninsula, swimming through lingering miasmal mists rising off the surface.” I have spent over two years recreating Roger Deakin’s ‘swimmer’s journey through Britain’. I have dipped… Read More

“I lowered myself off the jetty into a foot and a half of estuary water and propelled myself over the bed of delicate, smooth mud, out into the deeper waters of a maze of submerged drainage channels.” Guttural screams ring out as we walk deeper into the woods outside Walberswick. The relentless squeals turn to howls and barks, as Tim and I puzzle out what horrors lie on the other side of… Read More

“I swam just outside Hambridge in one of the long straight drains across the flat grazing meadows on West Moor like tall mirrors, It was about fifteen feet wide and four feet deep.” I have developed a strange affinity with flatness. Over the two years and more of following in Roger’s footsteps, I’ve found the swims under huge Fenland skies to be among the most inspiring. Dips where I feel like a speck… Read More

“In a wild stretch of the River Isle, a mile upstream from Ilford bridge, I stumbled on the perfect swimming hole. It was marked as a fishing spot by a little wooden square pegged in the bank… A fast flowing gravelly rill poured into a sudden pool ten feet wide, causing the fallen willow leaves in the river to rise like pike spinners out of the depth.” Tramping over long wet grass,… Read More

“I at last beheld Heveningham Hall, sunlit in Palladian splendour on its grassy hillside, with an endless lake twinkling and flashing in the sun below.” Heaving my bike over the cast iron gate, wired shut to keep out intruders and slapped with a ‘No Bikes’ sign, I catch sight of a vintage Land Rover on the bridge. Its driver potters about and occasionally glances at me as I walk towards him. “Graham?”… Read More

“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

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