Ingleton Pool, Yorkshire – a swim before the falls
“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 the River Doe from the car park as I stride down into the village. The pools below Beesley Falls are my first port of call, but the paid for trail is being patrolled by uniform rangers demanding £6 for the privilege of walking up to this most notorious of swimming holes.
I baulk and can’t imagine Roger would have fancied forking out such a princely sum to walk a concreted footpath. Instead, we decide to sneak in upstream. As we search out a way along the Doe’s overgrown banks, we quickly realise that this will be a fools errand, especially when the car can take us to a more convenient, less nettle strewn patch from where we can make our illicit entrance.
With a sweat on after wading through nettles, bracken and thistle, I leave Dave and Jim by a picnic table in the park and decide on a proper swim before being thrashed about in deep, fast–moving river water. Ingleton Pool, which sits high above the banks of the Doe, has been here for just over 80 years. A fancy, modernised spot, it has tiered seating for those watching galas, a hot shower and is heated to 80ºF. I couldn’t wish for a better place to squeeze in a few lengths on a hot summer’s day.
After stumping up my £4 entry fee, I pop in at the shallow end and proceed to plough out as many lengths as possible in the allotted time. The pool only opens for an hour between noon and 1pm, before reopening in the evening for the more general merriment of villagers coming home from work. I manage 36 laps of the 20 metre miniature lido before I’m told I need to haul out and pull my boots back on.
The water here is fresh and cleansing, the pool spotless. It puts me in mind of the filthy bottom of the vast Tooting Bec Lido. I can imagine the local volunteers who look after this small spot don’t have nearly as much trouble keeping things spic and span as they do down in south London.
Thoroughly refreshed and limbs aching, we repair to the climber’s cafe and demolish a heavy lunch, poring over maps and working out where we can drop into Beesley Falls without paying. Jim finds a likely spot and we tear off in search of more water. I’m determined to find the worn bough and rope swing hanging over that deep pool above the falls and see whether the locals still galavant along its slippery edges just like Roger described.