Waterlog Reswum

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“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

“I wondered how many walkers must have slid into these tempting waters, remote and hidden though they are. Sunlight reflected back off the rounded white rocks on the bottom, and soft cushions of fine, tight grass and thyme were scattered languidly around the margins.” The thought of a proper, skin–tingling swim after the visceral ride into the bowels of Hell Gill is all too much as we pull up on the verge… Read More

“I couldn’t help it. I began to slide into the mouth of the abyss itself. I found myself in the first of a series of smooth limestones cups four or five feet in diameter…stepped at an acute down a flooded gulley of hollow limestone that spiralled into the unknown.” At every stage of this retracing of Waterlog, one swim in particular has always come up among fellow Deakin acolytes. Hell Gill. This… Read More

“On a bend in the river below the abbey ruins, there is a wide sandy beach and I fully expected to see John The Baptist rise up amongst the bathers and bless them all for having the sense and self–reliance for going swimming in the wild.” The beach below Bolton Abbey’s hollow shell is deserted as the gate thunks behind us and we take the bridge over the Wharfe. It’s a dank… Read More

“I followed a rim of doughnut rocks to the white sands of Great Popplestones Bay. Apart from a solitary sun worshipper out of sight at the far end of the bay, I was alone. It was still April, and the swimming season could hardly be said to have begun.” Stocked up on pasties and San Pellegrino lemonade, Molly and I tread carefully down the stone steps and onto the waiting Firethorn ready… Read More

“One of my most vivid images from childhood is of the six Pullman camping coaches silhouetted against the sea at dawn, seen through the window of the night–sleeper from Paddington to Penzance.” The only camping coaches between Penzance and Marazion today are high–sided motor homes. Roger’s Pullman train carriages are long gone, no longer simply ‘shockingly dilapidated’, but taken away to the great breakers’ yard in the sky. Instead, skin singing after… Read More

“I headed down the coast towards Land’s End in search of turquoise water, and found it in the cove at Porthcurno. My first sight of the water’s dappled beauty was from high above the cliffs at the Minack open–air theatre.” After the seething waves at Godrevy, Molly and I want something a bit more amenable to a lengthy sunshine dip, a place where we can strike out and not trouble surfers with… Read More

“The mouth of the Red River at Godrevy is outlandish in a dozen ways. In its unassuming way, it embodies Cornish history. It is one of the few special places around our coast where you can swim in fresh water and look straight out to the sea, and an ocean horizon.” A pair of surfers wade clumsily through the Red River as it narrows, their long boards catching the wind as we… Read More

“The pool was forty feet across and up to six feet deep., full of mussels, sea anemones, limpets, starfish and barnacles.” Rested up after a day long drive and two late afternoon swims at Fowey and Helford, Molly and I make our way to north Cornwall. Despite schools being back, the beaches here are teeming, south west England collectively basking in the joys of an Indian summer. Motorhomes clog narrow lanes. I… Read More

“There can new few more inspiring sights than the oak–wood that crowds the water’s edge and spills over the Helford River, stretching out branches far over the narrow strip of beach that disappears under a spring tide when the river is brim full.” Still damp from our swim in the harbour at Fowey, Molly and I are now locked in a race against the setting sun as we wind our way along… Read More