2 Aug 2016

A Spontaneous Wild Swim

Last week, after a hot and decidedly uncomfortable day working in my attic studio, I decided that a river swim was most definitely in order.


I've been to Slippery Stones at the top of Howden reservoir quite a few times before, but it gets awfully busy and is quite a long drive followed by a moderate walk; not the easiest place to go when you're feeling spontaneous.  I've been desperate to find an alternative that is nearer to home, but I guess I'd been too picky when it came to how 'wild' the wild swim had to be.  I was aware that there is a stretch of the River Derwent that runs through the Chatsworth Estate which is popular with wild swimmers, yet I assumed it wouldn't be 'wild' enough for me, being near to a stately home after all.

As I was uncomfortably hot from my stuffy workspace, I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt and packed up my bikini, towel and GoPro and headed to my parents' house, which is only twenty minutes away from Chatsworth.  I persuaded my mom to come with me and so off we trundled, a little unsure of what lay ahead of us.
We parked up outside of Chatsworth House and made our way back along the length of the river, through a large field inhabited by a flock of sheep and their chubby lambs.  We were met by a couple of groups of people lazing by the water, but only a few children swimming by the river bank.

Having picked our spot to sit, I tentatively got into my swimsuit and made my way down the muddy bank to the icy water below.
I don't know why I was surprised that it was cold, it is a river after all.  The good thing about Slippery Stones is that, as it is a plunge pool, you can get the shock of the cold over with pretty quickly by biting the bullet and jumping in.  This spot didn't have such luxuries.  I slowly inched further into the biting water, wincing as I went.  After being heckled from the bank by my kind mother, I eventually sunk into the water.
The water was brown and spectacularly opaque, which made me somewhat nervous of what lay beneath the surface.  I was so very relieved to find that the river wasn't deep at all and the deepest part only came up to my neck (although I am almost six foot...).

The floor of the river was sandy with the odd bit of vegetation from the overhanging trees that lined the banks.  The current on this day wasn't particularly strong as we'd had a stretch of dry and warmer days, so it was actually really pleasant swimming against it.

As a child I would always pretend that I was an otter when I went swimming, so I was hit with a wave of nostalgia as I drifted downstream in amongst the trees, feeling very much like an otter in that instant.  My younger self would have been so proud.
As clouds started to cover the once blue and bright sky, I thought it best to probably get out.  With my teeth chattering and my lips quickly turning purple, I got dressed and we made our way back along the river once more.

The grand Chatsworth House glistened as the sun peaked through the cloudy sky, the gold panels below the windows sparkling.  I wished I hadn't ruled out this place as a spot to swim for so long, as I left feeling immensely happy and content, and rather excited to return again soon.


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16 comments

  1. Oh how gorgeous! I love the location! I couldn't go wild swimming though, I'm not a swimmer to start with but water gives me the heebie jeebies. Especially if I can't see what's in it!

    Still, what a location to enjoy some sunshine and cooling off after working all day!

    ~ K

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    1. Ahhh, I'm a bit obsessed with swimming (bit obvious no?) so I have got used to the creepy unknown of murky water. I do get freaked out still every so often.

      It is so beautiful though isn't it? Perfect for a paddle if you don't fancy swimming as well. x

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  2. Love this & as I have yet to try wild swimming, I'm super inspired too! :) x

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    1. It's the best thing! Something about it that leaves you feeling so energised afterwards. x

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  3. Looks stupidly gorgeous, like a scene from 'The Wind and the Willows'.
    I'm moving to Sheffield in less than a month and am so excited to explore - I've not ventured up north much before.
    Don't suppose you bumped into a shirt-drenched Mr.Darcy did you?! X

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    1. It really does now that you mention it! Oooh, well if you'd like some advice as to some good spots I'm more than happy to help. I WISH, just a load of sheep unfortunately :'( x

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  4. These pictures are GORGEOUS! And the place looks just amazing - some of the photos could almost be paintings. It makes me sad how much less I go swimming in lakes, the sea - you name it - as an adult because I used to love it so much as a kid. This has definitely inspired me to go somewhere before the summer is over to have a swim in the outdoors!

    Laura // Middle of Adventure

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    1. Oh thank you so much! I totally agree. As a kid I was constantly trying to get into any body of water I could, no matter the weather. I'm so pleased! x

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  5. I love these pictures, ah how i wish i had such awesome scenery landscapes and rivers where i live! <3
    Also, omg i used to pretend i was a dolphin when I went swimming with my siblings when we were little hahah! and we use to have make believe sharks in the pool lol.

    x Carina
    Blog-Running White Horses || YouTube

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    1. Thank you! Hahaha, amazing. Wish I still had such an active imagination x

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  6. Beautiful photos! I still think I prefer sea swimming, but get equally nervous of whats below the water and it's always unnerving to step on something you're not expecting! Alice xxx

    www.woodenwindowsills.co.uk

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    1. Thanks Alice. I get freaked out every so often, more so in lakes because of the reeds at the bottom! I adore swimming in the sea, just wish I lived a little closer to a beach x

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  7. Oh this looks lovely! I've never gone swimming in a river, but I used to always swim in the lake next to which I grew up and always loved it. I love the sea too, but there's something special about swimming in freshwater. xxx

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    1. Definitely one for the bucket list then! I totally agree, it always leaves me feeling so invigorated x

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  8. Im not the biggest fan of water but like you living in the countryside, I have sometimes dipped in local rivers. A local hobby is to go jump off bridges into the rivers, but I am defiantly not that brave! Wherever you went looked absolutely beautiful, a lot nicer than where I am in Devon! L x

    http://www.one-more-slice.com/

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    1. Oh I'd love to jump of a bridge into a river! Unfortunately this one is not quite deep enough. Need to find one nearby! x

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