Saturday 22 July 2017

Of swimming and bog trotting

At one time I used to swim on a regular basis. That though was some years back. Wild swimming had been my preferred option. Over the last couple of years Mike and I had been visiting Ross Back Sands. A lovely, often largely deserted beach. We had spent time in having dips and playing in the shallows.  Mike in particular was much bolder and hardier than me, spending much more time in the sea.
Waterfall, Ash Gill, look closely, there is a figure.
It niggled me though, somewhere along the way I seemed to have lost my swimming mojo. A visit to the local swimming baths had been a negative experience. It had felt sterile, regimented, everyone swimming in marked lanes, ceaselessly plodding up and down. Worse still, it was crowded. In short, I hated it.
Well aware that my Parkinson,s is getting worse, there also came a need to counter balance it. Tuesday last, I made a step in that direction. Not being a clubbable person, I took, what was for me, a large step. Heading over to Whitley Bay, I joined up with a group of other swimmers and went for a swim. They are sea swimmers and I spent some twenty five minutes swimming in the sea.
Ash Gill waterfall.
On Wednesday Mike and I were supposed to heading for a couple of tops in the outlying Cheviots. Cancelled due to dire weather forecasts, we met up on Friday.  This time we had swimming in mind. Our first stop was to be Ash Gill, near Garrigill. Unfortunately the forecast differed from what we actually experienced. It was wet and quite chilly.
Ash Gill has a series of pools, some quite deep. Selecting one, we changed into swimming costumes. Mike was first in, gasping at the coldness of the water. Not hesitating, I edged in. Loose rocks under my feet made me a little wary. The water was not clear and any obstacles could not be seen. With the water up to my chest, I leaned forward, allowing the coldness to envelope me. There was little room for a full swimming stroke. Using a half side stroke, come doggy paddle, I swam round the pool. For a few moments I floated on my back, allowing the water to push me along. Really though it was a little restricted.
A swimmers eye view!
Overall, I was only in the water for some ten minutes. Possibly I could have gone on and swum in a few more pools. However, on getting out, a strong breezey wind was blowing and I began to chill. Thus I dried off and got into warm, dry clothing and joined Mike for lunch . Mike was a wee bit annoyed with himself for not taking the plunge. The water though did feel colder than the sea and knowing Mike, he will be back in the waves next week.
One of Ash Gill,s pools, note clarity of water here!
Ash Gill does not offer easy access, the path drops steeply down the the hillside. In the wet conditions it proved to be extremely slippery.
Taken in the rain, hence slight streaky affect.
In the afternoon we headed over to Cow Green. Originally we had thought about another swim. With the way the weather was we cancelled on that. Mike though, new of a few fairly remote deep pools near to the upper river Tees.. We set off to at least investigate them. Unfortunately it involved making our way across wet, rough, boggy ground. By the time we reached the river I was feeling a little wobbly. The rocks in the river were slippery and I opted out. Mike forged on, paddling across while I sorted out my meds.
 On his return, Mike gave the thumbs up on the pools. A return visit will be made sometime. Our return to the carpark involved a tad more bog trotting. A different sort of day but pleasureable.
The question as to whether I continue swimming over the winter months remains to be seen? Certainly I am not going to make any rash statements. It will be a case of one swim at a time, two or three swims a week. If my body adapts to the cold conditions then I certainly will make the attempt.


  1. Very well done for getting out there again, Dawn. Sounds similar to me in a way. As a youngster and teenager I was a very strong swimmer, regularly frequenting pools, the sea and rivers, and even on the occasion representing my school. As an adult though, I also lost confidence. Don't know why. Never really swim now! Keep going with it!

  2. Thanks Chrissie, heading for the beach early next week.

  3. Really interesting post Dawn. Despite the fact I love the water (kayaking, gorge scrambling, snorkelling etc) I'm not a great swimmer. Like you I find swimming pools sterile and boring. I love to wild swim but I don't do it as often as I'd like as the rest of the family are hot weather swimmers. Have you seen the "Wild Swimming" series of books by Daniel Start - some great ideas in there. This is my favourite spot near to home in south wales:

  4. Hi Andy! I have both of Daniel,s books. A swimming costume is now included among my backpacking gear. So far I am taking it one step at a time.

  5. Just like big kids. I enjoy that.

  6. Thank you Alan, radical wrinklies growing older with attitude!

  7. I'm an okay swimmer (just about ok!) but I'm not keen on swimming in cold water. It's 'cos I is a wimp....but you already know that!
    I love your swimmer's eye view photograph - it really makes me feel like I'm in the water.

  8. Thank you John. You do nor have to swim, you can always come along to offer moral support (???) and hold our towels!

  9. Just want to say how much I enjoyed your photographs! And good luck with the swimming :)

  10. Thank you Quinn, will try and take a few more watery photos.