“Imagine a summer spent swimming in mountain waterfalls, exploring lost ruins and caverns, and camping in ancient forests.” Wild Guide – Lake District and Yorkshire Dales: Hidden Places and Great Adventures
Inspired by the above and the heat of early summer this year I planned our family holiday around my new love, wild swimming. I found two amazing resources – the Wild Swim Map. This is a website where you can search for swim spots wherever you are heading and read other swimmers’ reviews and notes. I also bought one of the Wild Guide series for the Yorkshire Dales. This not only features swim spots but covers other ‘wild’ aspects wherever you are going – forests, ancients spots, walks etc.
None of us like a long journey without a stopover – so I used the amazing resource that is the Wild Swim map to find a swim along our route – Port Meadow on the Thames. I wanted somewhere halfway (ish) between home and final destination. We took a picnic from Brighton, drove up, parked in the car park and ate in the car because it was pouring with rain. Of course. The braver (less grumpy) 3 of us then went investigating up river, guide book in hand. Argued over whether this was ‘the spot’, looked round and felt slightly shy as dog walkers were the only others around. Our inner Seabird kicked in then and we thought ‘sod it’, whipped off our clothes and jumped in with the ducks. Weedy green water caused squeals when legs became entangled in it, ducks and swans and anglers only a little further off. We felt slightly self conscious before getting in but the minute we were in we didn’t care and felt adventurous (or a bit naughty).
It was the perfect stopover when heading North – just off the M40. Rope swing nearer the bridge that even the older two would play on – smallest one ending up soaked to the waist and doing the rest of the journey wrapped in a towel. Then onwards and Northwards….
Masons Campsite is right next to the river Wharfe in the Yorkshire Dales near the village of Appletreewick. The river is at the bottom of the small campsite and has 2 great rope swings where the kids line up and swing out over the river endlessly or spin each other into dizziness and the thrill of nearly falling in.
10 minutes down river from the campsite, after a bit of hesitation and doubt, we found the spot that matched the picture in the book. Despite the glorious sunshine nobody else was in there. Whipped off our clothes again (becoming a theme) while bemused dog walkers looked on and slid in tentatively. Much much colder than the sea in Brighton, peaty tasting brown water, soft and silky. Fantastic. Numb feet like November in Brighton in just a few minutes. Slimy, weed covered stones under foot and bum. Surrounded by stunning scenery. All to ourselves.
We spent the holiday using the Wild Guide as our bible and it kept us outside, off screens and well fed with great pub grub suggestions. Fantastic. Highly recommend. Take your haramaki with you and keep those kidneys warm. Keep tuned for the next wild swim spot recommendation coming soon…