Waterlog Reswum

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    “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

“I left my clothes near the bridge and walked barefoot on the warm sand along the over bank upstream for a mile and drifted back down, swimming gently with the current, pushing between the sensual weed, past more sandy bathing bays and sun-hollows in the miniature reedy dunes along the banks.” Leaving the car on a grassy verge just past Santon Downham’s iron bridge, the fast–moving clouds above Thetford Forest are threatening… 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

    “I returned through the meadows, swimming upriver against the gentle current to Mendham Mill, where the painter Alfred Munnings spent his boyhood.” Pulling into Mendham, past the Sir Alfred Munnings pub and up through hedge–lined lanes, our hopes of a mill pond swim in Roger’s footsteps are already looking unlikely. The satnav has warned us of private roads and as we park up, it becomes pretty clear that if we… Read More

  “Dudley and I set off barefoot over the sandy boardwalk through the wooded dunes and emerged blinking from the shade into the great gleaming theatre of Holkham Bay. A majestic sweep of dunes delineates an endless beach where, at low tide, the sea is only a distant, whispering line of white.” A wallow in Holkham Bay’s shallows wasn’t part of the plan. Today’s trip was meant to take in a dip… Read More

“About a mile downstream from Burford on the meandering footpath to Widford, I found the finest oxbow bend I have ever seen. Sheep grazed the meadows, and the cropped grass was in wonderful condition, springy and deep green. At the narrow turkey neck of the oxbow were two old pollard willows…I slid into the upstream side of the oxbow, and swam all round it almost back to where I had begun.” We… Read More

It’s two years since I first picked up Waterlog by Roger Deakin, having devoured Robert Macfarlane’s The Wild Places and become intrigued by Deakin’s impish love of the great outdoors in his cameos in that book. I’d only recently taken to going for dips in cold, outdoor spots, largely at Hampstead Mixed Ponds or Tooting Bec Lido, then just a 10 minute walk from my home. But after racing through Waterlog, I became… Read More