Waterlog Reswum

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“I went in the next day with two or three dozen early-morning regulars, and for a glorious moment, during some lull in the proceedings, I had the entire sixty-seven yards of water to myself. The solitude lasted for a single blissful length.” Having made hard work of the bike ride up Haverstock Hill, followed by a bumbling attempt to enter via the exit gate, the water of Parliament Hill Lido comes as… 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

“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

It’s almost three months now since I braved the waters of the Waveney and took my last swim in the strokes of Roger Deakin. In that time it’s gone from damp to wet to bone-crushingly cold and back to wet again. My plans to swim through the winter have been disappointingly disrupted through a combination of endlessly rubbish weather, a lack of a decent wetsuit and, basically, my being a baby about… 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

“Burton Bradstock is clearly a place where locals like to come, planning a day around its simple attractions: the beach, the bathing, a spot of fossil hunting, the shelter of the cliffs, the exceptionally good cafe, the odd frisbee, a magazine, or perhaps a book.” The water of Lyme Bay is wheezing heavily as we plunge our feet into the shingle of the beach at Burton Bradstock. The waves roll in almost… 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

“I entered the river from just below the village, at a bend where there’s a gently shelving beach of gravel and bits of old brick. From here, I drifted downriver all the way through the meadows, by pollard willows in a row down the far bank, overtaken by the occasional punt.” There’s a keen breeze as we click through the footpath’s final metal gate and enter Grantchester Meadows. The long grass sighs… Read More

“The next thing I noticed was the brightly coloured rows of Rastafarian cubicle doors. Red, yellow, green they went, all along the poolside, and the colours danced on the water.” Tooting Bec Lido captures the joy of outdoor swimming unlike any other pool or pond in London. Hampstead’s mixed ponds might be more alluring thanks to their more rustic nature, but there’s something about swimming icy, 90 metre lengths at Tooting that’s… Read More