I googled the place, to see if I could find a map of it. I not only found a map: I also discovered that the woodland has various follies hidden in it along with a hydrolic fountain which stands, in the middle of a pool, hidden in the depths of the wood. When you find it, you have to wait a few minutes for the pressure to build up and...
But I'm telling the story the wrong way round: I found the fountain on the way back from Black Robin Whirlpool. I had set myself the task of finding Black Robin after reading Les Taylor's memories of the area online (Les was born in 1925):
At the sharp bend in the river below is the Black Robin Whirlpool where village boys were warned not to swim.
It sounded alluring: I just had to check it out. If it was too dangerous a place, then I'd give it a miss but otherwise... I packed a towel just in case.
As it was it turned out to be one of the best swimming places that, in my limited experience, I've ever come across. The whirlpool doesn't seem to be a literal whirlpool of the water-going-down-the-plug variety, more just rapids, albeit arranged in a wavy line. Behind the rapids, a deep, wide bathing pool extends upriver for quite a long way. I could imagine the rapids could be quite turbulent if the river were higher but the river was quite placid today. A triangular area of pebbly "beach" sticks out from the bank into the river here, with a small area of grass and bushes on its far side. An elderly couple were there when I arrived. She had just finished her swim. It turned out they had found the place by following similar online clues to myself and that I had indeed found "Black Robin".
I changed into my shorts on the pebble beach and climbed into the peaty-brown water of the bathing-pool. I soon discovered why parents might have warned their children not to swim here: where the pebble beach turns into a riverbed it suddenly slopes down - entering the water I found myself out of my depth in moments. It turned out to be quite warm as cold water goes and within a minute or two it felt heavenly. Having swum down to savour the natural jacuzzi that is the Black Robin rapids I made my way upstream - it was quite hard work swimming against the current. There's nothing quite like swimming along a river, your eyes at water level. The river surface stretches away like a huge, glassy floor. If the stretch of river is surrounded by steep, tree-covered banks as this is, you get the bonus of being surrounded by towers of greenery that rise up not unlike towering, fluffy clouds in stormy weather: the effect is of a giant, green sanctuary with a glass floor and a sky-blue cieling.
I returned downstream breastroke, only needing to make a minimum effort as the water carried me along, back to the jacuzzi. Once out and dried, I sat here and ate an apple. Life is good...
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