It was good to share a couple of spots I’ve previously only swum in alone with Barbs, who was with me all of the first day of my two-day Norfolk swim safari in a series to mark my year of becoming sixty.
The first was an impromptu dip in the river Nar, on the way from Swanton Morley to the next planned spot. It isn’t really deep enough for swimming, but beautifully clean and clear, and fun to float downstream looking up at the trees.
Then on to Fordham in Norfolk, not far from Downham Market, and the Great Ouse Cut Off Channel. We basked in glorious sunshine in the warmest water of the day, and revelled in the peace and quiet of this oddly remote location.
The water here is often warm, perhaps because the top layer of the wide expanse of water is warmed by the sun, and perhaps because it does not have much of a current. Actually, the current goes a different way depending on the time of year! In summer water is sent from Denver sluice towards a pipeline providing water to Essex, while in winter it takes away floodwaters from the Lark, Little Ouse and Wissey rivers. Two fascinating accounts of the history and the course of this channel, in an Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership website article and on Wikipedia.
There was a plan to open it up to canoeing, but this hasn’t materialised, apparently due to lack of money. There are plans to open up access to the banks at the Mildenhall and Lakenheath end, in projects in the Brecks Fen Edge and Rivers Landscape Project.
Signs forbid swimming, bathing and canoeing, and technically the land is private, but people do walk and occasionally canoe, wild camp and swim, though probably not in large numbers. There is angling, too.
You can also swim in the river Wissey nearby. Take the path across the bridge from Fordham and get to the river in a mile, walk along the tow path either side and find a suitable point, or get in at the slipway by the bridge in Hilgay. Watch out for boats and make sure they can see you.
More stories from the Norfolk swim safari to follow soon
[swim log 901]