Swimming in Bath

So the wild came to us beside the river in Bath. Sitting on a bench, observing the quayside crammed with live-aboard houseboats, we were rudely assaulted as a tree branch crashed down upon our heads. The wind whipped a shower of grit into our eyes but it didn’t matter. We were in the gateway to the south-west, at the beginning of a new series of Ben’s Watery Travels.

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A surprising plethora of wildlife inhabits the River Avon below Pulteney Bridge in the very heart of Bath.

A swarm of tiny fish, synchronised like starlings, played in the sandy shallows; a cormorant balanced on the lip of the weir, spreading its oily wings to dry as if conducting a surrounding orchestra of seagulls.

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The Princess Cassia surfed the weir, as SLR-wielding tourists munched on ciabattas above.

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We wandered the balmy streets to the sound of twanging guitars, before heading to the Thermae Bath Spa for a twilight swim in the warmest water in Britain.

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Next morning we returned to the riverbank. Our tree branch was gone, probably pilfered by the live-aboards who collect wood to fuel their fires all winter long.

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