Saturday, August 13, 2005

Amazing holiday facts - you can swim in it

Living in the South of England, one kind of gets used to the idea that if one swims in any body of water that isn't full of chlorine, one will probably get a dreadful disease. I manage to raise eyebrows by going swimming in the sea when I get the chance. The only time I've been in an environment in which swimming in natural fresh water was encouraged was at Strong River Camp, where I was a helper ("Freezing in the rapids and baking in the sun") - but I didn't really have the nerve there, either, confining myself to the swimming pool.

We stayed with friends in Lancaster following the Carey Conference, and they talked about going for a walk in Borrowdale, and possibly swimming in the river. So we duly took our swimming stuff, and went for the walk.

It was quite a drive from where we were staying, though the day was so pleasant that it was worth getting into the Lake District - days like that are few and far between - the typical postcard from the Lake District reminds you that rain and sheep are characteristic of all four seasons. And there were places to swim. The really keen went swimming in both places - I only went in the first, and spent an hour at the second reorganising the riverbed with children. The water was cold - numbingly cold to start with, though it wasn't unbearable. The cataracts provided natural hydrotherapy. One daring hiker in another party jumped four metres from a rock ledge into a pool that he didn't know much about other than that he couldn't see the bottom - please don't try this at home!

There are definite disadvantages to swimming "as nature intended". The rocks are slippery and hard to stand on, and stick out in unexpected places. You end up with mud and grass in your shoes at the end of the day. It's a bit of a hike to get to the pool. But it made a change to do something unregulated, with the only cost being the fuel to get us there.