Hello and welcome to Waterlog Reswum. This blog is all about following in the front crawl of Roger Deakin, swimming in the rivers, bays, streams and lidos he visited in his seminal book Waterlog. My mission is to experience the waters as Roger did, writing about and photographing them, exploring how they have changed and how attitudes to outdoor swimming have shifted since Waterlog’s publication.
“Burton Bradstock is clearly a place where locals like to come, planning a day around its simple attractions: the beach, the bathing, a spot of fossil hunting, the shelter of the cliffs, the exceptionally good cafe, the odd frisbee, a magazine, or perhaps a book.” The water of Lyme Bay is wheezing heavily as we plunge our feet into the shingle of the beach at Burton Bradstock. The waves roll in almost… Read More
“I went out along the jetty to the pond. It is deep, up to twenty feet, and the water is green, smooth and cold. It is entirely natural, and samples are regularly tested for purity. It was icy cold, and I swam fast in a big circle round the buoys the lifeguards use to moor rowing boat, past an unconcerned coot or two, and back to the ladder, feeling what they call… Read More
“The London County Council led the way in the lido boom, with its open-air pools in Victoria Park, Hackney, Brockwell Park and Tooting Bec.” Brockwell Lido only receives passing mention in Waterlog, Roger Deakin skipping the south London lido on his tour of the capital towards the end of the book. However, it crops up during an interesting passage about the decay and revival of lidos, centring around the Jubilee Pool in… Read More
“Marshall Street is one of the most beautiful indoor pools in the country. Since swimming is the most popular participation sport in Britain, it seemed astonishing to me that London could still be losing valuable and much-loved public pool like this from public ownership.” So wrote Roger Deakin on his visit to Marshall Street Baths to compete in a game of water polo and speak with locals about Westminster Council’s plans to… Read More
“I entered the river from just below the village, at a bend where there’s a gently shelving beach of gravel and bits of old brick. From here, I drifted downriver all the way through the meadows, by pollard willows in a row down the far bank, overtaken by the occasional punt.” There’s a keen breeze as we click through the footpath’s final metal gate and enter Grantchester Meadows. The long grass sighs… Read More
“The next thing I noticed was the brightly coloured rows of Rastafarian cubicle doors. Red, yellow, green they went, all along the poolside, and the colours danced on the water.” Tooting Bec Lido captures the joy of outdoor swimming unlike any other pool or pond in London. Hampstead’s mixed ponds might be more alluring thanks to their more rustic nature, but there’s something about swimming icy, 90 metre lengths at Tooting that’s… Read More
It’s two years since I first picked up Waterlog by Roger Deakin, having devoured Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places and become intrigued by Deakin’s impish love of the great outdoors in his cameos in that book. I’d only recently taken to going for dips in cold, outdoor spots, largely at Hampstead Mixed Ponds or Tooting Bec Lido, then just a 10 minute walk from my home. But after racing through Waterlog, I became… Read More