The Bare Necessities

Don’t go near the water
To do it any wrong
To be cool with the water
Is the message of this song
Lets all help the water
Right away
Do what we can and ought to
Lets start today

(Kirsty MacColl 1991, “Don’t go near the water”)

 

 

WHY, WHY, WHY. WHY, WHY, WHY. WHY, WHY, WHY. can you swim in the sea (and god forbid be swept away to all that lovely wine and cheese in France), but not in rivers and lakes. Some people even think it is illegal, others try to make it illegal. But what can be more natural than “dropping in” to your local river or lake. These pages will give you the “Bare Necessities of Wild Swimming” (you will be pleased to know that nudity is not included). However, it does give you a glimpse, amongst other things, of all those silly signs saying “No Swimming” that you need to ignore.

I DON’T THINK WE’LL TAKE “NOTICE” OF THAT SIGN

Or this one…………..

Or any other of these offensive and ridiculous signs (see lower down page).



What’s This Page About Digger?

Well, this page gives you some of the bare necessities of “wild” swimming. I’ve provided some top tips to help you on your way. These tips do not include “can you swim?”, “should I dive into water I don’t know the depth of?” and “is it ok to swim after drinking alcohol?”. If you need the answers to any of these questions you are a cretin whose imminent death will hinder this wonderful recreational activity.

“We’d go down to the river
And into the river we’d dive
Oh down to the river we’d ride”

(Bruce Springsteen, “The River”)



Diggers “Top Tips”

SWIMMING not fashion, fortunately!


1. Find water

You may have to break ice (or not)………..

Preferably a lake or river………..

But almost anywhere will do………..

2. Watch out for live cables – especially if swimming in manholes (see above)

Naturally you should follow Health and Safety Regulations and contact the utilities to check they do not have appliances in the area of your swim (be warned this can take 7-14 working days and there may be a charge).


3. Is it deep enough?

Even a bit of a lardy like me can float in about 4 inches of water (although you do have to empty out your belly button post swim). You can usually rely on the locals, although sometimes you can’t:

Recommended in Torrin, Isle of Skye…

Recommended in Hertfordshire…


4. Is it clean?

‘No Swimming’ sign not needed


5. Pick your outfit

Its always best to pick an outfit that will enable you to “fit in” with other water creatures, your surroundings and the time of day.

When in Scotland dress like the locals (especially if you are a baldy and need something to keep your head warm)

In Bedford, t-shirt and tinsel seemed appropriate

When swimming in the dark, don’t forget your head torch


6a. Check the water is free of other users

The day of the Bedford Raft race is NOT the best time for river swimming


6b. Check the water is free of other animals

Some rivers have large animals which might look pretty but are best avoided.


7a. Ignore all those “no swimming” signs

There seems to be some kind of “oppressive anal capitalist anti Wild Swimming plot” to prevent people swimming outdoors (except at the seaside where there are lots of shops and hotels in which people can make money). It’s time to STAND UP IN THE POND for the right to swim.

Front crawl is banned (use breast stroke instead)

Front crawl banned in the Danube (Bulgaria) too – enforced by loud speakers?

You could get round this one by bathing instead

You could get round this one by swimming instead

SHAME on you Buckinghamshire County Council who closed a swimming area at Black Park Lake (nr Slough).


7b. Not quite so bad signs

No banned, not encouraged

I couldn’t decide what I thought to Olney Town Councils rather polite notice that “Swimming is not recommended” and “You do so at your own risk”. It wasn’t quite the silly outright ban that others go for, but on the other hand it is positioned next to a well known (and concrete sided) river swimming pool probably dating back decades.


7c. Now for some sensible signs

Partial hurrah

 

This sign in the Brecon Beacons warns that “Rivers can be cold, deep and fast flowing”. Quite right to warn us and quite right not to ban swimming.

Another partial hurrah

This sign in Mexico warns that “It’s dangerous not to swim “. Quite right too.

Hurrah. Its ok to swim here

Genuine hurrah

Total respect to Waverley District Council (Frensham Paradise Pond), I promise to ensure my Mums council tax is never late. BUT what is wrong with swimming in the Little Pond?


8. Ensure you have a good support team “on shore”

Yes, please keep me dry!

But the support team often gets quite wet, especially in Scotland!

Yes, please look after my flip flops, passport and all my money (honesty still lives on in The Gambia)


9. Find some friends to join you!

 



This page has (not) been sponsored by Yorkshire Water and Bucks County Council. The former have been winners of the of the most anal “No Swimming” signs award for many years (see above). However, in 2003 Bucks County Council closed the swimming area in Black Park Country Park thus ensuring that they win the “scum of the water” award until it is reopened..