Waterlog Reswum

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“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

“Swimming without a roof over your head is now a mildly subversive activity, like having an allotment, insisting on your right to walk a footpath, or riding a bicycle.” It’s now almost four months since I swam the Waveney, the brisk wind and biting cold keeping me out of open water. And despite my best intentions (set out right on this blog no less) and the purchase of a rather natty wetsuit,… Read More

“I was swimming ten miles from the moat, where the Waveney defines the border between Norfolk and Suffolk. It is a secret river, by turns lazy and agile, dashing over shallow beds of golden gravel, then suddenly quiet, dignified and deep.” Nowhere on my nascent journey swimming the rivers, lakes and lidos of Waterlog has been so dominated by the air of pilgrimage as my trip to the Waveney. Leaving Liverpool Street… 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 London County Council led the way in the lido boom, with its open-air pools in Victoria Park, Hackney, Brockwell Park and Tooting Bec.” Brockwell Lido only receives passing mention in Waterlog, Roger Deakin skipping the south London lido on his tour of the capital towards the end of the book. However, it crops up during an interesting passage about the decay and revival of lidos, centring around the Jubilee Pool in… Read More

“Marshall Street is one of the most beautiful indoor pools in the country. Since swimming is the most popular participation sport in Britain, it seemed astonishing to me that London could still be losing valuable and much-loved public pool like this from public ownership.” So wrote Roger Deakin on his visit to Marshall Street Baths to compete in a game of water polo and speak with locals about Westminster Council’s plans to… 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