Waterlog Reswum

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“I also visited the charming village of Chagford, fed by the River Teign, with an outdoor cafe. It is fringed with trees down one side and – the last thing you expect to see on the edge of Dartmoor – a vigorous hedge of bamboo.” Summer has returned to Dartmoor by the time we arrive at Chagford. The passing showers have fled out to sea, leaving blue skies, the perfect adornment for… Read More

“On Thursday afternoon I went with my friends, under oath of secrecy, to a bathing place where the Dart is joined by an unusually cold moorland torrent. We will call it the Sherberton Stream.” The West Dart behind us, we drive up through Hexworthy, past the resolutely shut local boozer and on to the the hamlet of Sherberton. The next stop on our Dartmoor tour isn’t nearly as cut and dried to… Read More

“A cold dip in the West Dart River by the stone saddle bridge at Hexworthy came along just in time. I threw myself into a deep pool just upstream, gasping at the shock, and swam down into the stony salmon–haunts below.” Four days of cooling sea swims in Lyme Regis have steeled me for the cold waters of the West Dart. The river appears on our right, crashing over rocks as Tom… Read More

“During the 1920s there was a gang of boys and market-traders in Norwich who used to swim in the River Wensum and dive off the bridges for small change.” The pace could be politely described as mean as we turn off of the main road and along the Marriott Way, skirting an industrial estate and the greenish waters of the Wensum, just outside of Norwich. Tim, Molly and I are on a… Read More

“Just downstream from Denver Sluice, a gigantic arrangement of lock gates that controls the main outlet of the Fen river system, I swam the Great Ouse, which runs out to the sea at King’s Lynn.” Our bags heavy with wet swimming gear, Well Creek and Middle Level Main Drain behind us, Tim and I drive east to Salters Lode and a date with Denver Sluice. Crossing Well Creek, we walk along the… Read More

“I drove on west … through Salters Lode and Nordelph to Well Creek, where I bathed in the Middle Level Drain in the evening sunshine.” The rumble of an HGV is the only sound I can hear as I slip off of the retaining wall and into Middle Level Main Drain. Plastic bottles, clinging to the waters edge, bob and slurp as I push myself against the current and into the main… Read More

“I arrived at Hathersage in time for a pre–lunch dip in the village swimming pool, an open–air, heated lido set high on a hillside with spectacular views of the Peaks on all sides.” There’s steam rising as I skip up the narrow steps of Hathersage Swimming Pool, hand over my entrance fee and catch sight of the water for the first time. The day is grey and foggy, the temperature on the… Read More

“The deep, natural water of the Highgate Men’s Pond the following day was considerably colder than the cosseted High Point pool had been at the end of September. It is a marvellous second–best to Highgate Ladies’ Pond for a swim.” The temperature was up and London felt giddy. And so I slung my still–damp swimming shorts and a towel in my rucksack and jumped on the train to Kentish Town, walking briskly… Read More

“A vigorous mill–race sped through one of the arches, darting its turbulence far out into a wide black pool which whirled evenly between dense banks of reeds and watercress. It could have been a scene from Constable. I had arrived at John’s Water.” OS Map perched on my knee, we trundle down the single track road, the River Bure burbling to our right. Spotting the Mill Cottage and then the open–fronted cart… Read More

    “Five minutes out of the village down a waterside path, I was alone in the meadows on the brink of a wide, cold-water swimming hole, scene of the noisy reunion of the wandering offspring of Mother Test. Slightly to my surprise, there were no fishermen about, so I hurled myself straight in. The water made me gasp.” The sun completes its disappearing act just as we finish cobbling together our… Read More