Monday, 5 August 2013

The River Dragon

I've been getting out to swim as much as I can recently. I've discovered a place just a few minutes down the road - Redmire Falls. Between the stone steps of the falls are at least two -I've still to explore the place further- long, wide sections of deep water.

It's odd how you can feel deep water beneath you as you swim. It reminds me, at the other extreme, of how the quality of the air changes as you approach a mountain summit. It may be all in the mind - but it's surprising how often one can swim along a stretch of river, think that the water "feels" deep and, by reaching down with one's feet into the imagined darkness, discover that it is, that the river-bed is nowhere to be found. (Who hasn't imagined monsters rising up out of that darkness? There be dragons). Similarly, when climbing up a mountain in the fog one sometimes senses a change in the air and, lo and behold, moments later, one finds oneself at the top.

At one point at Redmire one can enjoy that sensation of depth while swimming under the trees alongside a cliff that rises from the water. At least, I think you can. It's such a magical place when there's no-one about and memory's a funny thing: some moments can be recalled vividly, others blur into an impressionistic haze.


Alan Burnett said...

Enjoy it while you can, it will be too cold and too wet and too miserable to swim in anything other than a heated swimming pool soon.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I have not been to this spot - as you know I am slightly scared of your wild swimming, although I personally learned to swim in a river, albeit the Witham which is narrow and slow flowing.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments.

AB: D'y'think? It's never too wet to swim. :)

WG: It's my tree climbing you ought to be scared of. Seriously - the Whitham point is an interesting one. In the past, people always used to learn in their local river "swimming hole". These were usually well-known and comparatively safe. There have been several tragedies this summer - some of which might have been avoided if people still knew these places and, when they learnt to swim, were taught the basics of "wild swimming".

AquaMarina said...

sounds lovely Dominic - watch out for them pike !!!

Jenny Woolf said...

I think that deeper water is often a bit colder, and perhaps one sense that. I like wild swimming and we are lucky enough to have at least semi wild swimming in the ponds of Hampstead heath. They are getting a bit too popular for comfort now, at least if weather is warm.

Gwil W said...

Always great to read of your wild swimming exploits. As a matter of fact I was swimming in a local lake today when a hefty fish bumped into me. Or maybe I bumped into the fish. I'm not sure which way round it was. If this sounds an unlikely fishy tale but it has a reason. It's a small lake, in the Lakes it'd be a tarn, and the surface is 15 feet below its usual height due to the drought we are experiencing this year. There's great competition for the remaining watery space. This time the big fish won. I thought maybe it's a pike so I got out . . .

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments.

AM: I think we all have (often the same) passing senses of foreboding about one thing or another when out swimming.

JW: I used to live near there, in Maresfield Gardens in fact. My daughter was born in the Royal Free.
I often look back upon my time there and wish I'd been into swimming then. I'd definitely have gone for those pools.

GwilW: You remind me of a story you probably know... Once upon a time there were two friends, Sam Clam and Fred the Fish. Sam and Fred lived together in the bottom of a tarn. One summer there was a draught and the tarn dried up and sadly the two friends passed away.
Fred found himself at the pearly gates. St Peter issued him with a harp and ushered him in. He enquired of Sam to be told that there was no Sam on that day's list, and, sadly, if his name wasn't down then he must have been sent to Hell.
"But don't worry," said St P, "We do arrange exchange visits!"
So, the following weekend Fred set off to see his friend. Sam was easy to find, as he's set up a nightclub on one of the outer circles. He had a great weekend - so much so that he almost missed the bus back to heaven.
"I see you've just made it," said the bus conductor, "but hang on... where's your harp?"
"Oh no!" said Fred the Fish. "I left my harp in Sam Clam's Disco!"

A Cuban In London said...

I loved this post a lot. I have swum in rivers and have had a very similar eerie feeling of not knowing what lies beneath me. I think it's maybe rooted in the murkiness of the water and the vegetation around me. When I swim in the beach all around is clear, most of the time and the water transparent (mainly in Cuba).

Greetings from London.

elaine said...

Just browsing through your posts and came across this one - it reminded me of the book I am in the middle of reading 'Waterlog' by Roger Deakin (a swimmer's journey through Britain) - I think you might enjoy it.

Dominic Rivron said...

Elaine: Aha! Waterlog! My inspiration. My mother lent it me, saying I ought to read some RD. I read it and, not content merely to read, became hooked on wild swimming. I think she regrets lending me it as I think she thinks actually doing it is dangerous.