A bit of a mission to find a swim spot today. Usually we hunt on the map for bodies of water & can navigate our way into the deliciousness of a wild swim BUT Bristol Water PLC had other ideas.
First-off we headed over to Chew Valley Lake, which on a map looks as perfect a swim spot as you would ever wish to encounter. A large part of the lake is a nature reserve & (rightly so) fenced off for the protection of wild birds, you also have to keep dogs on leads. I wholeheartedly & respectfully agree with these boundaries as they’re essential to supporting wildlife.
However across the other side of the lake is, what looks like, a large yacht club and also plenty of places for fishermen. Great, thinks I – provisions are being made for people around this lake too. Only not for swimmers. No swimming. Unless there’s something we missed? See the signs & also a locked gate leading to the water.
When we’re in France we always swing by Lac du Saint-Pardoux. It has a similar vibe to Chew Lake except there’s also an area for swimmers, sunbathers etc… so I can’t see it being that difficult to accommodate more people, it’s probably just more of a headache & so doesn’t get sorted. They could also easily charge a small fee for campers to stay overnight to raise more funds to support the wildlife instead of closing the car parks at sunset.
It’s a real shame that a lot of these opportunities are missed, or considered too much trouble by the guardians of the land & water – which is why it’s great to see so many people reminding said guardians that their role is also to facilitate people’s engagement with these spaces, even if it is a bit more bother.
Anyways – we found another spot about 30mins away that turned out to be ‘members only’. I kinda understand the ethos of a swim club wanting to cater to locals, but the wild swimmer in me felt a bit uneasy about claiming sections of riverbank for one sole group. They guy was absolutely lovely though & let us have a swim for a £6 donation to the club as there wasn’t anybody else around.
Would love to know if people find access to outdoor swimming difficult? Especially when travelling. It’s such a tricky subject.