Book Review: Waterlog by Roger Deakin

It seems fairly apt after my first open water swim of the year (read about it here) that I write a review of a book that is all about open water swimming.

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If you love swimming, especially open water and wild swimming then this book is for you. Roger goes on an odyssey around the UK looking for places to swim. He begins by looking for historical places, swimming holes and spot where people have swam for generations. He looks for lidos, unheated ones, big ones, small ones and even a triangular one, although so many lidos have been permanently shut down, which is a real shame. Last month I had the chance to swim in Hampton Pool Lido (read about it here), wich was very busy, even on a cold April morning. Back in it’s heyday, Morecambe used to have a really large lido, now sadly gone. Grange-over-Sands still has it’s lido, although closed, however there are attempts to re-open it, which would be fantastic.

Roger write about swimming across estuaries, down rivers, through lakes and lochs. He also chats to everyone about where and when they learnt to swim, finding some great new places to try out, and also finding secret swimming holes that had been forgotten about for many years.

He also swam in places that I knew quite well. He visited Oxford, where I lived for many years, and swam along the Thames, or the Isis as it is known in the city of spires. Roger also swam under Devil’s Bridge in Kirkby Lonsdale, although he declined to jump off the bridge.

There’s also an undercurrent of officialdom, for example by the Environment Agency saying the water might not be safe. As Roger pointed out to them, isn’t it their job to make sure that the water is safe. Roger also writes about perfectly good swimming spots where you’re ‘not allowed’ to swim because the water is owned privately, either by landowners for fishing, or by a school. This is nonsense of course, but Roger does suggest that the Scottish Right to Roam Act could be used in the UK for our waterways.

I took my time with this book, dipping in and out when I felt like it, and I made plenty of mental notes of places that I would love to swim.

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