The River in Winter

‘Go swimming’ was not in the starting line-up of things to happen on Sunday.  Top of that list was ‘repair broken furniture’ yes it was to be that sort of day, though ‘go swimming’ was, as always, on the reserve bench.  And so I muse on the unexpected turn of events as I jog along the path, dodging patches of mud, swerving around trees and glancing wistfully through the tree branches overhead at the intermittent patches of blue sky, my small rucksack bouncing between my shoulders.

‘Go swimming at Sharrah Pool’ was so far down the reserve list as to be out of sight but now I was climbing the stile, zig-zagging down the path beneath the beech tree, stepping carefully over the fallen tree trunks and there it was, the water dark orange, flecked with foam that swirls chaotically with an occasional bubble going spinning by.

That first glimpse of water between the trees never fails to be magical.  I think it is fair to say that along with the Faerie Pools on Skye, Sharrah Pool ties for the Holy Grail for outdoor swimmers, people who have never been here speak in reverent tones, and here it is 47 minutes from my front door.  I have been here more times than I care to count and still it is magical.

I let the thermometer dangle in the water as I change into my wetsuit, this time last year when I swam here it was 3.2degC, this is going to be nippy.  It can’t be, the gremlins have got at the thermometer, 9.6C, can’t be!  I dip a toe.  Well, well.

Swimming to the top of the pool against the flow is hard work even if I dodge from slack water to slack water in the eddies behind the rocks.  ‘The Elephant’ is awash and the swoosh is very ‘swooshy’, but quite doable.  The river swirls me down the pool in a blizzard of bubbles and not to much goes up my nose.  2nd go and now my ears are full of water too.  And I don’t care.



Today just upstream of the diving rock there is a patch of still water and I find I can keep station lying on my back with just the slightest fluttering of feet and hands. Sadly up above the blue sky has almost gone now.  That’s not the only thing.  I’ve been here 1/2 an hour at least and I feel like I could quite happily stay in the water indefinitely, but it is now gone 5 o’clock and it will be dark by 6 and I have to get changed and jog back down the hill yet.

Fortunately though I’m only 47 minutes from my front door.  I will be back and soon.






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