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Waterlog: A Swimmer's Journey Through Britain [Paperback]

Roger Deakin , David Holmes
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
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Book Description

Roger Deakin set out in 1996 to swim through the British Isles. The result a uniquely personal view of an island race and a people with a deep affinity for water. From the sea, from rock pools, from rivers and streams, tarns, lakes, lochs, ponds, lidos, swimming pools and spas, from fens, dykes, moats, aqueducts, waterfalls, flooded quarries, even canals, Deakin gains a fascinating perspective on modern Britain. Detained by water bailiffs in Winchester, intercepted in the Fowey estuary by coastguards, mistaken for a suicude on Camber sands, confronting the Corryvreckan whirlpool in the Hebrides, he discovers just how much of an outsider the native swimmer is to his landlocked, fully-dressed fellow citizens. Encompassing cultural history, autobiography, travel writing and natural history, Waterlog is a personal journey, a bold assertion of the native swimmer's right to roam, and an unforgettable celebration of the magic of water.

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Waterlog: A Swimmer's Journey Through Britain + Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees + Notes from Walnut Tree Farm
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Product details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099282550
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099282556
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A filmmaker and writer with a particular interest in nature and the environment, Roger Deakin was the author of Wildwood and the highly acclaimed Waterlog. He lived in Suffolk, and died there in August 2006, aged 63.

Product Description

Amazon Review

The British Isles are blessed with a whole variety of waterways often encompassed within beautiful valleys, rolling hills, green fields and rugged coast lines. The presence of a flowing stream, waterfall or an idyllic pond can enhance a picturesque landscape.

While swimming in the moat located in his own back garden, inspired by thoughts of his son's current quest travelling in Australia and John Cheever's classic short story, The Swimmer, Roger Deakin decided he would undertake his own adventure and swim across Britain.

The Rambling Association's Right to Roam campaign is well publicised in the UK, so should that not include our right to swim in our lakes, dykes, and tarns? Deakin was ready to prove it did and planned a trip around Britain which would take him to numerous wild swimming venues.

Waterlog, is Deakin's account of his journey. He seeks out tarns high in the hills of north Wales, swims with salmon in Somerset and eels in the Fens. He describes the nature he sees around him from his unusual perspective inches above water level. His love of swimming away from the confines of a swimming pool comes through strongly in his writing. Wild swimming is an unusual hobby in modern society as we are constantly told how our rivers and lakes have become polluted by large industries disposing of waste via waterways and chemical fertilisers washing off farmers fields into out rivers. During his visit to a weir on the River Avon in Worcestershire, Deakin's hosts and fellow swimmers show him a letter they have received from the local environment agency outlining the dangers of swimming in the river. The letter describes how sewage can constitute up to 80 percent of the river flow and increase the risk of catching Weil's disease. Deakin takes in the scientific argument, arguing that the figures show that very few people catch Weil's Disease in the UK and of those who do, they are invariably not river swimmers.

Deakin has produced a deeply personal account of his journey. He informs us of any cultural, historical or geographic points of interest in a highly descriptive writing style which does not, however, read as an adventure story. Unfortunately, this means there is no climax to the book as a whole, but it does mean each chapter stands alone as a description of each area. Together, they make an interesting read and leave the reader with a wealth of information from an unusual perspective. --Stephen Payne --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"A delicious, cleansing, funny, wise and joyful book, so wonderfully full of energy and life. I loved it" (Jane Gardam)

"Highly entertaining...Waterlog is a book about a cold, wet subject written with a warmth and passion it surely deserves, but has rarely had before" (Guardian)

"A wonderful and romantic tale told by a true English eccentric...think Ratty, think Mole, think three men falling out of a boat...enchanting" (Michele Roberts Financial Times)

"A travel book like no other, it is rich and deep with insights on modern Britain" (The Independent)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars i have since swum naked in the river torridge 17 Jan 2008
Not everyone gets this book. I have given it to several likely suspects who were only half convinced. But for me it goes into my all-time greats. And has, and will, see me plunging into water for the sheer hell of it whenever i can. A 'wild swim' immediately turns the day into a special day. Deakin reminds us that just because no one else is, doesnt mean we cant. What a literary braindump of natural science, social history, geology, modernity, the human condition. A true eccentric, who held dear and firm his beliefs in this ever-changing world. Roger, I salute you!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect 18 Nov 2008
By Spartan
I'm only about a third of the way through this book but wanted to add to the reviews on the site. If, like me, you happen on this page by accident and think "why not?" please follow through with that first thought and buy this amazing book. It's so rare to find work that really cant be criticised and this, the eloquent reflections of what must have been a wonderful man, could well be one of those rare finds. It's exceptionally well written, filled with intimate details of what England must have been like in less commercial times and as fluid, rhythmic and enchanting as the rivers and streams the author so clearly loves. Did I mention you should buy it?
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66 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious 18 Jun 2001
By P. Dunn
A quote from the cover - 'A delicious, cleansing, funny, wise and joyful book, so wonderfully full of energy and life. I loved it'. Tis true. It's an ideal relaxation book. The author swims in rivers, lakes, lidos, the sea and other outdoor watery places around Britain and describes beautifully the experience of the inner man and the nature he feels so much a part of. He throws in interesting history and anecdote to enlighten us as to how many of the swimming holes came to be. You end up feeling like you're sharing the journey with someone who truely loves what he's doing.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book. 29 May 2008
If you're the kind of person who sees water and immediately wants to go in, this is the book for you. It's practically a bible for the wild swimmer; full of marvellous places and written with such likable enthusiasm and fascinating detail that I really wished it were longer. Such a shame that he won't be writing any more.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Such a wonderful book! Layers of reasons to love it. He captures landscape, describes the physical allure of swimming, it's funny, interesting and beautifully written. Gathers and celebrates the numerous reasons why humans are so drawn to water.
In the unlikely event of me being invited on Radio 4's "A Good Read", this is the book I'd take along. Confidently.
I can't speak highly enough of it. And I only picked it up on a whim in a bookshop.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Last Great Travel Book on Britain ? 8 July 2000
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Its difficult to believe that an original travel book can still be written about the British Isles but Roger Deakin has made it look so easy.
I hate to use the phrase "instant classic" but that is what it is. Beautifully and honestly written but also providing a last look at a countryside and way of life we regrettably left behind in the last century.
Impossible to look at a river, stream or loch in the same way again.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
As an Australian resident I found this book to be absolutely fascinating. Beautifully written, this book gives a very different view to the traveller in Britain. Makes me want to visit all those places.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a masterpiece! 22 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This is a wonderful book. It gives an entirely new vision of Britain; the "frog's eye" view, and it does so in a prose style that reminded me of Bruce Chatwin in 'The Songlines'.This is the most original and memorable travel book that I have read for years.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 28 days ago by simon
5.0 out of 5 stars good condition, thanks
Sent quickly, good condition, thanks. Great book, very inspiring.
Published 1 month ago by Jennifer Simpson
5.0 out of 5 stars Dreamy days..
Adore this book, nostalgic, well written, makes you want to jump in lakes and streams! I'm a water-babe but this is lovely, it takes you back to being a child in the sun, fields... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Waterbabe
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book
I loved it. I'm not a great fan of his other books, but this one is tremendous. So many beautiful places to explore...right on our doorstep.
Published 2 months ago by Alastair
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent and very well received -
Published 3 months ago by Trudi Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Evocative watery descriptions that take you back to your childhood and learning to swim
Published 3 months ago by Sarah Carvell
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like Wildswimming, history
If you like Wildswimming, history, geography... Then you will love this... It has a useful index at the back too if you wish to look up places near you for a secret swim.... Read more
Published 3 months ago by debbie mcnamara
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thought-Provoking Journey In and about Water
This book brings alive the beauty and vitality of waterways around the UK and the liberation of immersion within them. Read more
Published 4 months ago by MNM
5.0 out of 5 stars Waterlog - a dream in water.
A great read, full of interesting and provoking thoughts. Each "watery" adventure is described with great enthusiasm! Read more
Published 4 months ago by Thomas Richards
4.0 out of 5 stars great read for anyone interested in wild swimming
I have been really enjoying it, and have found the writing style an easier read than the other of his books that I have read.
Published 6 months ago by Avril Gibson
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