Tag Archives: Henleaze Lake

The Lake this afternoon…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The air temperature is 24 C, the water temperature a delicious 18.5 C, you can glide, bob or splash up and down in the top warm two inches of the lake, watching the fish jump, and the odd willow leaf wander past. I can take two guests in.

Join me.

(For Jeannie)

Cold Water

I’ve just been for my first swim of the year in Henleaze Lake – a cool 16.5 º C – hardly Bondi Beach and not what I call warm. But my friend had been and I thought this was getting a bit ridiculous, what’s the point of joining a club, waiting for years to climb up the waiting list if you don’t actually go. Shopping was what was required, so I went to Beachshack and bought a shortie wetsuit today.

Arriving at the Lake, the wind blowing in the willows, the water looked decidedly chilly. Someone was sweeping up, and there were a few people around, one woman cheerfully swimming out past the sculpture towards the lily pads.

I wrestled with the long zip taggy thing in the changing room and feeling more than a bit like Captain Blimp, walked over the grass to the long steps down to the water…..

…And then I was in, the wetsuit really does work, I was most impressed, though I couldn’t swim very fast as it really was a bit cold for me. I swam down to the pontoon and then back again and got out. That’s enough for a first swim. I hope it warms up a bit more than this!

My reward?  Crispy duck with pancakes for supper. Bring it on!

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!