Waterlog Reswum

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“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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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“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

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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

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“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

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“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

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“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