Waterlog Reswum

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“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

“We made for the surf across the almost deserted beach and half–waded, half–walked into the sun towards Scolt Head and Burnham Overy Staithe” Lifting ourselves over the dunes, Burnham Overy Staithe behind us, we get our first peep across the empty beach on this wild stretch of north Norfolk coastline. We’ve ambled along the dyke for an hour, spotting oystercatchers and little egrets picking their way through Overy Marsh, battling the brisk… 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

    “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 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

    “The River Lark was known as Jordan, because people came from all over the Fens to be baptised by total immersion in its waters at Isleham.” Look up the River Lark on Google image search and the first picture you’ll see is of a beaming fisherman, torch strapped across his forehead, holding tightly onto a huge, snake-like pike. You could say this clouds my mind as I ease my bike… Read More

“I had entered a swimmer’s dream. People lolled half-submerged along the top of the weir, reading or sunbathing, while others paddled themselves in coracles, swam, dived, or just sat about in bathing costumes.” Led upstairs, through a warren of corridors and into the first-floor drawing room, the mill window is flung open. As the first of our three-man group throws himself forward and hurtles towards the water, my stomach lurches. Eased up… Read More

  “Approaching the Itchen along College Walk, I came eventually to the water meadows and two or three piebald horses grazing by the river. I vaulted a low fence, steadying myself on a PRIVATE FISHING notice, and crossed the meadow to a convenient willow, where I changed into bathing trunks and a psi of wetsuit boots for the return journey from my swim.” There’s a ‘first day of school holiday’ buzz in… Read More

“Hampstead Heath, and its enlightened management by the City of London Corporation, makes a useful working model of good practice both in terms of pollution and access. The Highgate Ponds, fed by chalybete springs high up in Kenwood, descend the hill and are segregated by tradition into the Women’s, Men’s and Mixed Ponds. Entrance is always free, there are simple showers and changing sheds, and each pond is maintained and observed by… Read More

“That evening, I went to Bungay in search of ‘Bungay Beach’, one of the town’s swimming holes, across the marshy wastes of Outney Common, where the river kinks into a two-mile oxbow.” The small beach appears just a few feet after we cross a broken wooden bridge. To call it a beach is perhaps a touch generous. More a sandy, gravelly inlet that shelves steeply into the slow trundling waters of the… Read More