Swimming Wild in Wiltshire

Squeezed at the foot of a shady lane, in the heart of the Salisbury Plain, lies one of England’s finest river swimming holes, in an area scarcely changed since the days of Neolithic man.

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A flypast of two kingfishers greeted our arrival at Figheldean, while a pair of dark Apache Attack helicopters duelled menacingly above, as a single bar of sun spotlighted the pool in a green hue.

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The world was at peace as I lunched on a Wiltshire pasty, the silence broken only by the whirring choppers and the tuneful tinkle of water over a concrete slide.

Orange dragonflies danced in the trees. Was this too good to be true?

Then; spitting stones, fired staccato-like into the grass by fat rimmed tyres, heralded the inevitable chav arrival. A multi-car convoy of the dervishes swept through, surfing the insects on their shimmering wake, as I fumbled desperately through my copy of Rob Fryer’s ‘Wild Swimming Guide’; strategising our retreat to a quieter location.

Refusing to leave without a quick paddle, I waded across the ankle deep ford beneath the footbridge, through water which was toe-numbingly cold…

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After a good twenty minutes of sitting in the car on the A303, in a traffic jam caused by nothing more than motorists rubber-necking Stonehenge and its ever-present Paganist circle of tourists, we finally took a turn to the Langfords, down the pleasantly named Duck Street.

Ducks usually mean water, so we were confident that a river would appear in due course.

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Squeezing the car into some brambles, we clicked through a gate into an enchanting little meadow, complete with a barbecue-scorched wooden bench.

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The chalky green pool, crystal clear in the shallows, was bypassed by a burbling brook and overlooked by a wooden footbridge, where a path led into the pastures beyond.

A noticeboard allowed swimming at your own risk, however not in the main River Wylye or above the bridge.

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I couldn’t resist a dip in this timeless slice of Wessex, so I waded into the pool and was quickly out of my depth in the middle, swimming up towards the footbridge and back for a few lengths.

The water, though chilly, was not quite the ‘freezing’ declared by two screeching local girls who arrived, in a civilized manner, complete with wicker picnic basket and tartan rug.

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2 thoughts on “Swimming Wild in Wiltshire

  1. Oh yes. Only those pasties kneaded, stuffed and raised within the boundaries of Kernow are entitled to call themselves Cornish. All others must be re-born under a new regional identity. Another piece of legislation from our masters in Brussels, probably introduced to protect their sprouts from plagiarism!

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