Essex swimmers gave me a great welcome on my June swim trek, and I went to many varied swim places all around the county. This was the latest in my series of clusters of swims in East Anglia to mark becoming 60 this year. Please sponsor me if you would like to. I’m now planning the next one – South Lincolnshire and North Fens 12-15 July.
My swimming friend Rachel – who I first met in Ipswich on my first swim trek, A12 swim journey – was with me all of Day 1 to celebrate her first day after finishing work. Naturally we started with Brightlingsea lido, which she has been a key player in turning into a thriving community facility.
I made contact and met up with three vibrant swim groups:
Dedham River Swimmers, a very sociable and welcoming bunch who like their cake!
I met several from Southend-on-Sea Open Water Swimming, where I swam in choppy Force 5 sea at Chalkwell, welcomed with changing facilities, tea and coffee, and lifeguarding by the Chalkwell Lifeguards Club, who are there every Sunday.
I met up with the very helpful and lovely Island Swimmers Go Wild on their fabulous Mersea island for a lively and atmospheric swim.
I also met local swim coach Vicky Spike Malmsjö at Dedham and at Gosfield lake
and at Southend I met Jen, a swimmer just starting a challenge – 40 swims for her 40th birthday, and swam with her for her second at Boreham.
I also enjoyed some time more or less alone, including at St Peter’s Flats on the Dengie peninsular with its shell beach, mudflats and old walkways to oyster bed, where the emptiness was interrupted only occasionally by a walker.
Over the four days I did 18 swims or dips, and four paddles, swimming with others at half of these, and I met and was supported by many other people. I swam in the sea and estuary, tidal pool and a salt lake, rivers and inland lake (the only organised venue) and a lido. I also had a ferry trip and wandered a stately home in gardens before dipping my toes in the river running through it.
I covered all corners of the county, and found myself on the border several times. Twice I had to cross the river to the Essex side, and I attempted to swim round the demarcation pillar between the Thames estuary and the sea. (It was too rough so lifeguard kayak towed me in, but I walked round it at low tide – I guess that counts.) The tides were a big issue, involving careful planning, but even then they didn’t do exactly as expected. Some places I would have liked to swam but couldn’t fit it in when the tide was right.
Several books shed light on or pointed to particular places in this area, including Tom Bolton, Low Country, Wild Swimming Walks, Justin Minns, Photographing East Anglia, and I was recommended but haven’t yet read Rachel Lichtenstein, Estuary. When I got back I realised that Caitlin Davies, Downstream, also covers the end of the Thames at Southend.
In these swim safaris I am meeting local swimmers or swim groups in several places over a few days in different part of East Anglia each month (see Swims, including reports from previous trips, and plans for the next ones).
I am inviting people to sponsor me if they would like to. The two charities are important to me in remembering my parents at the end of their lives four years ago.
Find all location info in the Places section.
[swim log 954-971.5]