This swim trip was the culmination of six months of swims to mark my year of becoming 60 and to celebrate outdoor swimming in East Anglia. And a celebration that there will be funding for swimming projects in the Brecks (read about in separate section)!
I travelled around Breckland for nearly four days of swims in many lovely spots in rivers and lakes. I was joined by members of the area’s Outdoor Swimming in Breckland Facebook group and visitors from Fenland Inland Swimming Heros FB group.
These are the Facebook posts during the Brecks swim trip, 4-7 Oct, in which I invited people to join me, to support or to swim together at our own risk, or to sponsor me. I added an invitation to join me to every post, and tags #outdoorswimmingsociety #sharetheswimlove #brecks
You can read about my other treks in the Swims section.
The trip was an opportunity to celebrate the news that there will be funding for two projects to discover the history and promote safe and environmentally friendly outdoor swimming into the future! (From the National Lottery Heritage Fund, as part of a wider set of projects about the watery landscape of Breckland). You can read more about this on the separate OS Brecks section of this website. Watch out for more news soon and sign up for updates or to get involved if you are interested.
Fri 4 Oct pm
Swim spot 1 Day 1 Hilborough, 12.2 degrees, just a paddle, nice spot.
Swim spot 2 Day 1 a lake near Mundford, 15.4 degrees, with Barbs Eveden Tawn, lovely beach, then the rain came splashing down which was amazing, surreal, but a nuisance for getting dressed afterwards.
Swim spot 3 Day 1 Ickburgh, 12.3 degrees, fun being swooshed down from the weir, with Barbs Evenden Tawn. I should point out that this weir is fun, but twice has sucked me in and I have had to kick hard to get out, so take care.
Swim spot 4 Day 1, we didn’t swim at Didlington, too little water and too little time, but looked pretty when the sun came out, with Barbs Evenden Tawn.
Swim spot 5 Day 1, a lake near Watton, 13.4 degrees, a bit weedy and shallow, but a great adventure in a place miles from anywhere, but where by pure chance we met a young man doing a long distance walk who joined us for a swim before finding a place to camp for the night. With Guy Kenny, David Greenhill and Barbs Evenden Tawn.
Day 1 completed, varied and interesting places in Breckland, great to have company for the 3 swims and 4 of the 5 places. Lots more tomorrow!
Sat 5 Oct
Swim spot 1 Day 2 Nuns’ Bridges/Thetford Lido river pool, very pretty place, refreshing paddle below Nuns Bridge in very low water, puzzled a few passing motorists and dog walkers. Kingfisher flew in and perched by the lido. Many local people have memories of swimming here and at other spots, maybe again some day? Could be a key historic place for projects starting next year, history and future of swimming in Brecks.
Swim spot 2 Day 2 Two Mile Bottom, 13.1 degrees, though water low an unexpectedly fun swim. Brownies came by as I was wading in, chatted, counted me in, and waved from the bridge, on their way for a forest walk. Can see remains of old Croxton Staunch. Scouts and Brownies would have swum here from nearby camp, maybe still do. Historic swim and navigation place, will be part of project on history of Breckland swimming. Forest looking lovely at start of autumn.
Swim spot 3 Day 2 St Helen’s Picnic Site, Santon Downham, 13.1 degrees, quick swim, brief sunshine lighting up the forest and water. Low water, but enough in the pools for a dip, e.g. up by the church. Another really key place for swimming in the area, thronged in the summer, so we need more suitable swim places, hopefully an outcome from the Healing Waters project.
Swim spot 4 Day 2 Brandon Sluice/Staunch, 13.4 degrees, with Clare Angel and Mark Angel, nippy, quite shallow, too shallow for crawl, but water lower than usual. Spoke to man living aboard a boat, loved it, little boy having fun visiting. Some boys thought about going in but didn’t, and were impressed by us going in.
Swim spot 5 Day 2 Barton Mills, 12.9 degrees, with Sheila Roberts, Niki Rogers, Inge Mitchell, Clare Angel and Mark Angel, quite a crowd bracing the chilly waters. Beautiful and peaceful, secluded, nice, especially when the sun came out. Weed cleared by the rain.
Swim spot 6 Day 2 Mildenhall – explored at Jubilee Fields, with Clare Angel and Mark Angel. Definitely looked possible to swim, some get in points, busy with people fishing and hanging out on a sunny afternoon. Free car park, barrier 2.1 metres.
Swim spot 7 Day 2 Soham Tunnel Drove, or ‘Sheila’s secret place’, 13.6 degrees, with Sheila Roberts, Niki Rogers, Inge Mitchell, chilly feel as sun behind trees, but a delightful spot, very good swimming in the Lark. Nice walk after along the embankment, built up with clay dug out of Roswell Pits and brought by boatmen from Isleham. So a connection with Cuckoo Bridge.
Day 2 completed, a lovely day, quite a few sunny spells, not too cold, great company all afternoon, fun meeting Brownies in the morning. Looking forward to tomorrow, though weather not promising.
Sun 6 Oct
Swim spot 1 Day 3 Hockwold Common, 13.1 degrees, with David Greenhill and Heather Watts. Delighted they came to join me, and impressed as they went off into the distance and were in for ages in this cold, did half mile, training for the polar bear challenge. Said it was a mixture of clear and weedy upstream. Still a lovely spot, despite nonstop rain. Three friendly anglers.
Swim spot 2 Day 3 lake near Mundford, 15 degrees, with no-one! Don’t blame them, not nice weather. But actually quite nice with the rain drops plopping in the water, and not cold. Found a secret dry changing place, too! (The photo is of rain Friday, but could have been several times and places.)
Swim spot 3 Day 3 Jude’s Ferry, 13.2 degrees, with Barbs Evenden Tawn and John Bush – who didn’t swim, but took photos. Nice friendly pub, chat to Jack who told us about swimming and litter cleaning in summer. Entry bit tricky, water not so tempting.
Swim spot 4 Day 3 Isleham marina entrance, 13.1 degrees, with Barbs Evenden Tawn – who swam – and John Bush who paddled with me, less windswept than the wash common. Barbs liked it and went in on impulse, clear, easy access, inviting atmosphere.
Mon 7 Oct am
Swim spot 1 Day 4 Cavenham. People swim in the weir and some other pools in the river, but I went in a nearby lake, 13.8 degrees, bit weedy at first, but ok further out. An adventure.
Swim spot 2 Day 4 Barton Mills, 12.5 degrees, sun came out as I went in, entry point where they had been mooring the weedcutter. Actually put my head under a few times. A lovely spot.
Swim spot 3 Day 4 Icklingham, 13.2 degrees, lovely little pool that you can park next to, mentioned in Waterlog. Wearing my mum’s favourite costume.
Swim spot 4 Day 4 Barnham Cross Common, just had a look, not even a paddle, as chilled from previous 3 swims (12.2 degrees). Lovely little pool, heath a bit bleak. The car park is to be remodelled, with barriers, so I guess I won’t be able to park here in future.
Swim spot 5 Day 4, I had a look at another spot near Thetford lido, recommended by someone who swims there. I was almost tempted when the sun came out, as there was enough water. But not tempted enough today! Kingfisher came by. Part of the wonderful BTO reserve. Looking at the lido again, as I did at the start of Day 2 of this 4-day trip around the swim spots of the Brecks, and imagining it thronged with happy swimmers in its heyday!
Dropped planned Swim spot 6 Day 4 Knettishall Heath, as I went there recently, and the time has been flying by today.