The water level in the river was perhaps a little bit up with the stony channel between the bank and the islands running with a trickle of water instead of being a dry bed. However, at the main pool on the bend of the river, the flow appeared no more than expected and the water was reasonably clear, though it has now very much taken on the summer peat stained orange hue.
Downstream of the pool the river tumbles over stones and into a tree roofed tunnel, where shafts of sunshine dab the tumbling water like a swirling mirror disco ball. I’ve done this before, so why not again? As I near the top of the rapids the water begins to drive me forward over rounded, slippery and very hard boulders. A few extra inches of water translates into a lot of extra force especially when there is nothing to get a hold of. That’s why not.
Over the lip and into the rushing water my right knee cracks very firmly into a stone and wedges me for a fraction of a second until the water spins and flips me so that I am now going backwards down the rapids. That situation reverses almost immediately as my bum (still tender from falling over at Lower Sharrah Pool on Sunday) hits a rock and I slide up into a semi-sitting position before my legs are thrust round and finally I am able to brace with my feet and take a moment. Behind me 5 or 6 of the other swimmers I am with have also been swept along with much hysterical laughter and a small amount of swearing. One of them now shoots by me.
For the next 20 yards we are the helpless participants in an exotic pinball game played using all the balls at once. Swimmers ricochet off each other and are bumped and flipped by the rocks. We could not get out even if we wanted to so it is just as well we all find this so helplessly amusing.
Deeper water and a chance to paddle in to the bank before getting thrust into the next rapids. Though I know it is an island some of the other swimmers now find themselves cut off by an unexpected stream, not deep, not wide but the only way across is to go flat on your front and pull yourself to dry land hand over hand across the pebbles. Or ….
If you walk down to the end of the chain of islands you can get into another waist deep flow, ride that to the next rapids and then make it into Lower Spitchwick Pool. Here the river swooshes wildly under one bank, corners sharply and returns you to the middle of the deep pool. A counter eddy then carries you back to the top of the swoosh and, well, swoosh!
Three times around, but then as the sun is setting it is time for getting out. Nothing actually seems to be broken though my knee is throbbing and 2 fingers on my left hand are quite numb from punching something. I do hope that something was only a rock.
It was not the swim I had anticipated for Lower Spitchwick, it was just so much better.