Waterlog Reswum

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“Scaling the sand dunes, I ran down the deserted beach, flung off my clothes and waded into the surf.” Light winds, leaden skies and brown, churning sea. Walberswick in late October. Past the public loos, through the warren of beach huts, over the dunes and onto the beach. After weeks without a swim, my cast finally off and my wrist free, I should feel more energised about going for a dip. Instead,… Read More

    “When I had first seen the words ‘Raised Beaches’ on the map, recurring like an incantation, forming a ribbon along the western shores of Jura, I immediately wanted to tramp over to this wilderness and explore them.” Past the Inver estate office, up a car-wide track, clad head-to-toe in waterproofs, we stride out towards west Jura. A light rain whips across the sound from nearby Islay, as deer gawp at… Read More

“The next swim, from a wooden landing stage of a boathouse on a little trout loch nestling in a purple bowl of hills, was a sheer delight. This loch had a shallow end, where the burn flowed in, and a deep end where it was dammed by a stone wall and flowed down a salmon ladder into the sea.” The briefest of breaks in the horizontal rain gives us our chance. Scrambling… Read More

    “When you enter the water, something like metamorphosis happens. Leaving behind the land, you go through the looking-glass surface and enter a new world, in which survival, not ambition or desire, is the dominant aim.” A fractured wrist in a brace, awaiting plaster, has laid my swimming plans for this lengthy summer low. Having swum in 20 or so of the rivers, lakes, lidos and beaches in Waterlog, my trip… Read More

    “The Wissey rises in a moated fish pond at a farm in Shipdham near East Dereham in Norfolk and quite soon runs through the never-never land of an army truing ground, forbidden to most of us for over fifty years, left undisturbed for months on end and, crucially, unformed. Thus insulated from modern agricultural pollution, the Wissey is one of the purest lowland streams in East Anglia.” The walk from… Read More

“I went in the next day with two or three dozen early-morning regulars, and for a glorious moment, during some lull in the proceedings, I had the entire sixty-seven yards of water to myself. The solitude lasted for a single blissful length.” Having made hard work of the bike ride up Haverstock Hill, followed by a bumbling attempt to enter via the exit gate, the water of Parliament Hill Lido comes as… Read More

“I had ridden here under my own steam, and here I was in the centre of London gazing up at the stars in the utmost luxury of a heated outdoor pool. It seemed the height of civilisation. yet this was no exclusive private pool; with a Leisure Card from Camden Council, you could get in for £1.” I usually associate London swimming with slowly easing myself into cold water and a post-workout… 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 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