First Dip in Henleaze Lake

No excuse today, temperatures soaring, so I walked the dogs first thing and then dug out my swimming kit and have just come back from an hour of heaven messing about in the Lake.

Ironically I lived here for four years before I worked out that the lake I had read about in wonderful Waterlog by Roger Deakin was …..

…… less than five minutes away and just behind the woodland where the wild garlic and elder grow and the dogs play most days. A quarry originally, with steep rocky sides, a few ducks, full of pike and other fish. The anglers have half the lake, the swimmers the other half.  You wouldn’t dream you were so close to the centre of such a big city as Bristol when you float in the middle of the lake, weightless and relaxed.

We swam in the Thames when I was little, usually ballasted in elderly yellow lifejackets, clutching at boat ropes, trying not to swallow the oily diesel floating in rainbows on the surface of the water.

We swam a little in Lake Malaren when we were holidaying in Sweden,  a cold and northerly lake, and I can count on one hand the number of swims I had in Loweswater in the Lake District, as our summertime visits to my father rarely coincided with hot weather and the lakes are deep and very cold.

Zeb has a midsummer swim In Loweswater

So I don’t rate as the most intrepid wild water swimmer, but when the water temperature is around the 20 C mark, my thoughts turn to a cool airy swim outdoors.

No chlorine, no lanes;  the sound of other swimmers laughing and playing absorbed by the willow trees, a huge elemental space,  fresh water, a warm breeze on your shoulders, blue sky, swifts scissoring overhead,  shadow and sunlight, what else do you need?

Edit: I’ve edited this post to include a picture of the lake that I took in the summer!

10 thoughts on “First Dip in Henleaze Lake

  1. GillthePainter

    I’ve sent the flickr link to Tony as you were talking about it when you met.
    I just don’t think there is anything like that around here!

    It does look perfect, Joanna.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Ceila, I read somewhere it is about 6 metres deep at the south end where the boards are. It is a former quarry filled by rainwater and some small springs. Quarrying finished there in 1912. The swimming club has been going since 1919. Another quarry nearby is now a small park with a children’s play area in it, called Quarry Park.

  2. Choclette

    It’s amazing what you find out reading food blogs – I had no idea anything like that existed in Bristol (not that I am particularly acquainted with Bristol). We have a quarry up on the moors not too far away where I used to swim all the time as a teenager. I used to love outdoor swimming but haven’t done it for many years now – even though the sea is so close. Lake Geneva was the most goosebump inspiring lake I have swum in – a few of us au pairs would try and scare each other the further out we got by telling tales of how it was so deep no-one had yet discovered the bottom – it was certainly very cold.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Choclette, that’s because I am not a food blog really – that’s just my disguise to lure you into reading my posts :) I like the idea of your quarry on the moors. I wonder if it is in Waterlog, does it have a name?

  3. blue

    Oh Joanna – how wonderful to be able to swim in that lovely lake whenever you like during this hot weather! The water looks so invitingly cool and serene …… (serious envy coming on here). That’s really what I call ‘living the life’ – enjoy!

  4. Pingback: Cold Water | Zeb Bakes

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