Hockwold Common: Norfolk swims for 60th

The common is a popular place for locals to walk and swim, and can be busy in summer, but often you have the place to yourself. We had a wonderful swim in the sunshine.

swimmer in river with trees and bank
Heading downstream

Hockwold Common, known as the Lode, feels like it belongs to the local community, and it is easy to imagine people have been coming down to the river from the nearby village forever.

In fact the village does have a long history of settlement, as the village website describes, and – as is often the case with traditional swimming places – there was a ferry here (and until at least the 19th century a Ferry Boat Inn).

river with trees and grass on the banks
View upstream from the beach

Before our late afternoon swim Barbs and I chatted with one of many locals who walk here regularly, a woman with three dogs and a baby in a pram. The riverside common is certainly busy in summer with picnickers, swimmers and kids playing on the rope swing. It is ideal because of the shallow beach and the river deepens gradually, yet there are endless stretches of deep water to have a proper swim upstream or down. Although this is part of the Little Ouse is navigable, boats are not frequent.

river with clouds reflected in the waterYou can often be here alone, and it is a haven for wildlife. I once watched an otter playing on the river edge in late afternoon, and you can always hear always lapwings in the nearby river meadows.

two women swimmers selfie
Barbs and Imogen ready to swim in the river

This was the fourth swim on day one of a two-day Norfolk swim safari, one in a series to mark my year of becoming sixty.

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More stories from the Norfolk swim safari to follow soon.

2 swans in the river
Swans in the shallow waters edge

Hockwold is on the edge of the Fens, on the western side of the Breckland area. Although known as a dry part of the country, water is and always has been very important for navigation, recreation, farming and wildlife.

Currently projects looking at all aspects of the heritage and landscape of the rivers in this area are bidding for funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, in the Brecks Fen Edge and Rivers Landscape Project.

Read more about two projects that hope to discover the history and influence the future of outdoor swimming and other river recreation in Breckland.

If you’re interested in finding swimming places and meeting up with other swimmers in Breckland, join the Facebook group, Outdoor Swimming in Breckland

swimmer with clouds reflected in the water
Barbs in the river

Location details for Hockwold Common


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