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4.7 out of 5 stars
Wild Swimming: 300 Hidden Dips in the Rivers, Lakes and Waterfalls of Britain
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67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
There are very many things that I love about this book. So far I've had it a very short time and have already had an incredibly therapeutic swim, about 10 miles from where I have lived for over 20 years, which I had no idea was there. It was the most beautiful spot and the pub recommended in the book was such a find, being friendly, serving good beer and food, having a gorgeous wildflower garden and being over a thousand years old.

Having this book means I am much more likely to get out and swim in beautiful places, and not just paddle, worried about currents, debris and pond weed. So all those good intentions are finally coming good and I can entice friends along too. It's definitely going to be the basis of many UK holidays to come.

I'm also impressed that the directions are so concise yet so clear and straightforward to follow - rare for a guide book.

I can't recommend this book enough.
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183 of 187 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2008
This is the book to make poltroons like me brace up and take the plunge. On so many occasions, hot and sweaty on a walk, I have come to a pool, a river or a waterfall and thought, 'Oh, I'd love to fall in there - but I can't.' And why can't I? Because it's too cold, because I don't dare, because I might not be allowed, because I haven't got a towel, because, because ...

Pathetic, man! Here is the wonderful antidote to all that cowardice. 150 brilliant places where it's not only OK to swim or plunge or flop out on your back - it's the nicest, most natural thing on earth, if you judge by the ecstatic expressions on the (mostly young, mostly shapely) people who cavort in or stand invitingly on the brink of the cool pools in Daniel Start's quite irresistibly seductive photos. Why aren't there any snaps of saggy greybeards like me? Because, let's face it, we don't scrub up so well. But Daniel's message is that there's room and tolerance for all of us in the clear trout-filled River Nadder at Teffont Evias in Wiltshire, under the mountain oaks of the Wolf's Leap in deepest Wales, or among the Faerie Pools in the dramatic shadow of the Cuillins on the Isle of Skye.

Great Scott! I can hardly wait. This is a wonderful, youthful, inspiring book. I've let my Health Club subscription lapse because I couldn't take the urine and chlorine and locker-room macho any more. But now I shall be a swimmer into cleanness leaping. Here I gooooooooooooo ... !
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2009
Wild (River) Swimming is a wonderful book. It's not just a map of good places to swim, picnic, defy Health and Safety with your grandchildren, it's a compendium for cool outdoor living during a hot British summer. It simply makes you lust for anticyclones and rapid changes of the climate in an upward direction! It's why we need global warming.

Seriously, many of the locations are severely chilly but as the book so rightly says, once you have immersed and removed yourself to a sunny rock or stream bank, the urge is on to get back in and swim and splash around. Apparently it's all in something called an endorphin and we can all enjoy them!

Our first forays have been to Exmoor and what delights awaited us. We thought we might have been whisked away to another time and place at Cloud Hill and the "secret" pool upstream will be remembered for years to come.

The only equipment needed for wild swimming is a pack towel and an (optional in some places) swimsuit. But water sandals are a definite luxury (Keens or Tevas are recommended) when the stream or lake bed is stony.

Bravo, Daniel, a great guide!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2011
On my map of Oxford, which dates from the year 2000 but probably hasn't been updated all that thoroughly for the 2000 printing, there are five places by the rivers marked as "bathing place," including Parson's Pleasure and Sunnymead by the river Cherwell, and three others by the river Thames (or Isis, as it is called in Oxford).

In the real world, however, if I walk down to the river Cherwell, I find big signs saying "no swimming or diving" or something to this effect, and hardly anybody dares to swim there these days. There is a simple reason for these signs cropping up just about everywhere - land owners are scared of being sued if somebody comes to harm, so they stay on the safe side and put up the signs.

Yet there are many places around Oxford and indeed around the UK where swimming in the wild is at least as safe as crossing a road, for those who can swim and are willing to behave with the necessary caution. Thus it is very welcome that Daniel Start's book lists around 150 such places around the country, complete with practical tips regarding how to get there and how to stay safe, and with as many gorgeous photos of surprisingly large numbers of people engaged in the forgotten pleasures of wild swimming.

Our local spot, Parson's Pleasure, is only mentioned in a historical anecdote in the text and not officially included in the list - presumably due to those signs that the university put up after someone drowned a few years ago. But I might one day check out the place at Stonesfield, which, as I learned from this book, is the village where the first fossil was found that came to be recognised as a dinosaur. There is, actually, although the book fails to mention this, a local bus service from Oxford to Stonesfield.

The trouble with a guidebook that covers the whole country when you only need to know about your nearest place, is that it doesn't appear to be very good value for money and you may be tempted to look up the info in the library or bookshop. I'd recommend to buy the book regardless, though, firstly to enjoy the wonderful photos, and secondly, to support the severely threatened art of wild swimming.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2008
This book has been reviewed on several outdoor forums and magazines and works well as a nice blend of clear reliable guidebook plus photo travelogue. It's aimed as much at the walker or family looking for an unusual summer outing and picnic, as it is for the 'swimmer'. For me it was a perfect timing as last year I decided to be free from all flying as the biggest and easiest way to reduce my carbon emissions.

The swim boxes are particularly useful as they contain 8 point grid references (good for walkers), postcodes (good for drivers) and very detailed walk-in directions in case you don't have a map (with timings and path difficulties). There's also water quality and whether the swim is a paddle, swim, dunk, dive and so forth, and what else to do if it's too cold, including nearest pubs and campsites.

About 250 places are grid referenced in all (150 with full box panels). There's coverage of interesting places like ancient baptism pools, river tubing canyons, clear chalk streams, places to find otters, catch crayfish, slide down rock pools or find famous locations like the Swallow and Amazons islands.

There's a enough in the adventure of finding and reading about each place to mean it doesn't matter if you don't swim.

All in all it seems very well put together.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 9 August 2010
This is a really interesting book with some great recommendations of locations to swim outdoors. If you do get this though please bear in mind that you really do need to get the OS map for the area to be able to find the locations as they can be a bit tricky to find. I've tried a couple of these so far and have enjoyed the swims.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2011
This is such a gorgeous book, just looking at it makes me want to be outdoors. I bought this quite late last year so I only managed to get out to a few swims in Derbyshire. I've already got my OL24 map at the ready with sites marked out for this years' adventures.

Swim site 72 Chatsworth Derwent was our first forray into the 'Wild Swimming World', which thinking of it now perhaps wasn't quite so 'wild', more like an entry level swim to get the feel for it. What I loved most was the beautiful colour of the water, all dark & rusty red. I've admired it from a far before but to actually submerge yourself in it is something amazing. The next place we tried wasn't far away, a little further down the river & had been recommended to us on the wild swimming website.

Normally I scuba dive which is such an amazing experience, but all the equipment & protective layers which are necessary to protect you from the cold have the disadvantage of cutting you off from really feeling the environment. Wild swimming it all about reveling in the outdoors, really feeling the enviroment & reclaiming our waterways.

A lot time, love & fun has obviously gone into the making of this book. It is stunning to look through & really well researched. Packed full of deatail. I can't get enough of it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2009
I took this book on my 4 month jaunt around the Highlands and Islands of Scotland this spring/summer and although I couldn't get to all the wild spots I would have liked I did a couple combined with some rather lovely sea swimming. (Although I wouldn't recommend staying in the water too long at Holy Isle across the shore from Arran in April, nearly gave myself hypothermia but worth it!)
Not having a car was a bit of a restriction as to where I could get to however I did manage Loch Ness, although not from the spot suggested in the book which was on the busy A80 Inverness to Fort no, I chose to take my dip from the much more secluded east shore and I have to say it was the most SPECTACULAR swim of my life thus far! I swam at the north end near Dores so had amazing views right down the stretch of the loch embanked by mountains. Glorious.
My second dip came at Randolphs Leap near Forres, a fast flowing river filled with salmon. Make sure you're a strong swimmer for this one and the climb down to the water wasn't too easy either but another excellent swim.
Shame I couldn't reach the Faerie pools of Skye without a car but a swim at the point of Sleat made up for that when I thought I was in the Maldives!

Buy the book to experience what swimming should be like.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 March 2011
I love this book, it does exactly what I expected - describe various spots around the country where you can go for a swim. Although it's meant as a means to an end, for me even just reading it is enjoyable.

It also has some handy general tips for outdoor swimmimng, things like how to prepare and some safety issues etc.

If I were forced to make a criticism, I'd say that some of the directions it gives to find the locations could be a bit more detailed, but exploring is part of the fun I guess so I'm really clutching st straws.

I'd definitely recommend this book if you're keen on outdoor swimming. Great stuff.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 September 2010
An excellent book that's really well laid out by location with beautiful images of the lakes,tarns and rivers recommended for a wild swim.
It really opens your eyes to what's available to experience in Britain in the beautiful countryside.
Some spots are not as remote as you would think with write ups on places like Hampstead Heath London for novice explorers as a taster.
The pictures are amazing ,the waterfalls are mesmerising and resemble scenes from fantasy film locations. It's motivated me to buy myself a wetsuit and try out a few of the recommendations.
Well worth the buy if you are a bit of an adventurer.
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