Lincs, Fens & Rutland swim trip round up

The community aspect of swimming, in traditional and newer swimming places, was the theme of my latest swim safari, S.Lincs, N. Fens and Rutland, 12-15 July, 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 trip 9-12 August in the middle bits – Herts, Beds, and just into nearby counties … watch this space – Swims

Volunteers in local communities run and staff their outdoor pools, swimmers get together at various swimming spots and organised venues, and the online and social media swimming community – including South Lincolnshire Outdoor Temperature Hardened Swimmers (SLOTHS) and Fenland inland Swimming Herd FiSH – made many wonderful suggestions of places to swim.

outdoor pool
volunteer Maxine at Heckington community swimming pool

Lincolnshire has six outdoor swimming pools. The community runs four of these and the other two are part of the local community, and all are meeting places for people.

Imogen and some children swimming in small outdoor pool
Metheringham community swimming pool
photos of and thanks to volunteers
notice at Bourne pool

They are much loved and valued, though really need more people to commit to volunteering – even if it is only an hour or two. Some of them have had to close sessions because people haven’t come forward.

children's drawings and thanks to volunteers
sign at Metheringham pool

The Facebook group, Community Pools and Lidos, is a very useful place for those running these facilities to share good practice and get ideas, but it really comes down to local people supporting them.

They all gave a warm welcome to me and other visitors from further afield (Lido touring is getting quite popular, helped by The Lido Guide).

 

Local swimmers recommended, and I was warmly welcomed to, Activities Away (listed on wild swim map) organised by Steve and Katie. This facility, which is valuable in an area without many places to go that are trouble-free.

lake with swimmers
Activities Away lake near Lincoln, with Anthony and others

a no swimming sign deep water, no swimming, in front of foliage and a lakeSome of us did go on an adventure to a lake where swimming is not allowed, but many are not willing to do that. The Gildenburgh Water diving and swimming lake has a thriving community of divers and welcomes swimmers.

 

mural with swimmer and sign
signpost at entrance to Billinghay community pool – 32 miles to Skegvegas (Skegness)

Rutland water bathing beach is a free inland lifeguarded beach that provides somewhere for people to swim without having to drive miles. I swam there with Robert (from the Outdoor Swimming Society’s Inland Access Group), who negotiated for years to get this it established, one of the first and possibly the only one run by a water company! Parking charges pay for the lifeguarding.

lifeguards on duty sign, cloudy sky
Rutland Water beach
river and sky and plants
Dog in a Doublet swimmers entry point

There is a strong tradition of swimming in the Fens and surrounding areas, but many have forgotten how to do so. Although there are loads of waterways, mostly clean and very swimmable, sometimes it can be difficult to get into the water. Entry points can be hard to find, and anglers platforms might already be in use. Some traditional swimming places can be very busy, while others have been lost.

three person selfie
Barbs and Sean with me at Dog In A Doublet

At Dog in a Doublet, local swimmer Sean has built a platform to make access easy, and he, Barbs and others are establishing a regular local swimming meet up, using their Facebook group to bring people together to swim at their own risk.

looking down at the weir pool and beach, with boy
River Welland at Tinwell pumping station, south-west of Stamford
commemorating the mineral spring which was believed to have medicinal properties
historic spa sign near Stamford

In Stamford I had a dip from the lovely Town Meadows, which would be ideal for people to enjoy splashing about. It would probably be frowned on and it isn’t easy to get in and out of the water. In the library’s Discover Stamford display I found a photo of swimmers at the old bathing place, which must have been near there. Just upstream there is a very popular place where young people swim and hang out (which Lofty told me about), and near it is a monument to the town’s spa history.

old photo of swimmers lined up
Bathing in Stamford in the 20th century

During my swim trek I swam with a number of other people, seeking out some places with Tina and Barbs, and being shown some great spots by Anthony and Helen.

swimmer with tow float and moored boat behind
Helen in the river Trent at Farndon

Swimmers (including Lofty, Caroline, Vicky) gave me many useful suggestions of where to go, even if they weren’t able to join me. And my last swim was with someone who I met there; Liz joined me from her paddleboard as I walked along the bank looking for a suitable entry point.

woman standing on board in river
paddleboarder at junction of Wissey and Great Ouse
river and ancient stone bridge
Wansford Bridge

And there were some swims I did alone. One from a fishing platform (not in use at that point) near the gloriously named Three Holes, where a kingfisher dived for fish. Another at Wansford Bridge, where I chatted to a couple of friendly young men angling nearby. And one in the sea north of Skegness at Anderby Creek, where horses were riding along in the shallows and a family including a unicyclist were enjoying the sandy beach at sunset.

shallow sea with unicycle and woman and child running
Anderby Creek
sandy beach and
looking down to the river from the high bank
an angler on the Middle Level Main Drain

The waterways provide recreation and community not just for swimmers. I met people fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking, in narrowboats, and walking, cycling and jogging, or just hanging out by the banks, as well as riding horses and unicycles by the sea. All share and enjoy these spaces, nearly always amicably and showing respect for each other.

narrowboat about to go under the bridge
Milton Ferry Bridge

Altogether I did 20 swims: six in outdoor pools/lidos, one in the sea, four in lakes, and 9 in six different rivers.

Imogen and many others swimming in a big outdoor pool
Jubilee Pool, Woodhall Spa

On my swim treks I have been inviting anyone to join me, to watch or to swim together at our own risk, at various places over a few days in different part of East Anglia/ East Midlands each month (see Swims, including reports from previous trips, and plans for the next ones).

Contact me or find me on Facebook

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.

Location info (or links) for all swims

See itinerary for the four days, Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon

[swim log 993-1012]