May Bawsey swim: come and enjoy!

The May swim was glorious, on a hot sunny day with warm water. This post is an invitation to come along and meet other swimmers, and to get to know and enjoy this wonderful place – as people have been doing for many years.

We had another wonderful swim at Bawsey Brickyard Lake on Friday 10 May, with the hottest weather yet in our monthly swims, and water temperature a very nice 18.5° (similar to our first swim in September last year). Not so many of us this time but undiminished in our enthusiasm; 7 in the water, one on the beach taking photos.  

Come and join the swims at Bawsey, where swimmers choose to meet up once a month to swim at Brickyard Lake. Flyers are circulated on social media with the date and details. It can be glorious, especially on a sunny day, but is lovely in any weather. The beach is sandy, with shallow water on the edge gradually sloping into deeper water in the lake. It is accessible to an extent – see location details. And there are far fewer risks here than in many other waterways (read more in this post about the risks/myths and how to stay safe), and those can all be mitigated with knowledge about cool water and other issues.

The swims are fun and enjoyable, and also done for a purpose – to call for the Right to Swim so that everyone can enjoy this wonderful activity at these beautiful lakes. More on this in the April Right to Swim post. Currently the landowner does not wish people to swim and makes that clear with signage and messaging, but we are showing that it is perfectly possible to do so safely. Earlier posts have talked about this, including one in February on why people love swimming at Bawsey which answered some of the concerns swimmers might have making them nervous to come.

So far over 80 individual swimmers have come to the monthly swims over the last nine months, varying numbers coming each time depending on the weather and day of the week – a total of 130. Often people come along just to paddle (incidentally also not allowed by the landowner) or to support. Everyone who has come for the first time remarks on the beauty of the lake and how suitable and benign it is for swimming (see some quotes in the November post). Most are experienced swimmers who have seen a lot of locations, and many have made this their favourite (even if they can’t come often).

Or you could go and have a swim at Bawsey at another time if you can’t get to the monthly swim dates, as several from the group have done, sharing lovely photos and enjoyable experiences.

“We walked right round the Great Lake then up round Brickyard Lake – it is a great view from up on the cliff – before swimming & picnic – had the lake all to myself!” Norman

“There had been a water quality alert at Hunstanton so I couldn’t swim in the sea, and there are very few options in that part of Norfolk. I don’t think I would have been confident enough to swim there without having been earlier with the group, given that there were wardens present. The wardens saw me but didn’t come over and I had a good swim.” Danya

There is reassurance in going with a group or with others, but no one has come up against any opposition or even contact from wardens, even when they’ve been seen swimming. (Wardens do speak to swimmers – who are there in their hundreds on hot sunny days – but it’s worth knowing that they can’t stop you swimming or make you get out, and trespass is a civil matter, not in any way illegal. More on this in the February post.)

People have also shared photos and memories of swimming in earlier years with their families and friends.

“My family about eight years ago enjoying a swim in the lake. We used to go often and I’m so glad there is a move to reclaim it.” Becky

Although a lot of locals have been scared off swimming there, with generations having being fed misinformation to suggest that the lakes are peculiarly dangerous, many have found out for themselves how lovely and safe it is to swim and paddle there using common sense and basic knowledge about safety, and teaching this to their children, too.

“What a great fun day and memories made at Bawsey Pits. We took a picnic, and it was so lovely playing with the boy in the shallow area and sitting on the blanket eating picnic after. He loved it, very well behaved, only went in water with us and it’s easy there to keep an eye on kids, even when it’s busy. There were quite a few families that day. Safer and more reassuring than sea.” Barbs

It makes sense for this to be a place that people can swim and paddle, especially so near to a large town and so far from other suitable swim places. The estate is all public access, and has facilities including a café open 10-3, toilets and car parks (with a charge). There’s also paddleboard and kayak hire and launch your own, for a charge, and occasional events. You can park elsewhere and walk in on public footpaths and byways if you prefer; there are many beautiful walks around the lakes and in the woods, and dogs are welcomed. There is a link to the estate website on the Bawsey location page.

So come along and have a look and give it a go!

Swimmers are meeting at Bawsey to show their support for The Outdoor Swimming Society’s Inland Access Manifesto calling for freedom to swim and the call from Right to Roam for a right to responsible access to land and water, as in Scotland. Read more about Wild Swimming and Access. To show that we need more access to swim, we suggest swimmers Go Swimming!

Location details: Bawsey Pits or Lakes

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