Taking the Plunge (Part One)

On Sunday, spending a rare weekend in a hot London, I needed to cool off and so off I went to Hampstead Heath on my bike, to try out the Kenwood Ladies’ Pond.

One of three ponds on the Heath (men’s, ladies’ and mixed bathing) these ponds are something of an institution in North London. Having been originally dug in the 17th and 18th Centuries, the ponds are known for their birdlife as well as the hardy swimmers who break the ice through the winter.

I wasn’t so hardy as the water was a balmy (and murky) twenty three degrees and lots of other fair-weather swimmers were also taking the plunge.

I’m a big fan of natural swimming having swum in rivers from California to Mexico and now France. I love crystal clear water whether it’s in a pool, river or ocean and I have to admit that Kenwood Ladies’ Pond was definitely lacking in that respect.

I couldn’t see my hands or my legs and my feet were lost in the khaki depths. There was a slightly odd smell but floating on my back with blue skies above and trees around there was a lovely sense of calm and I imagine in the winter, it must be a most magical (albeit freezing) experience.

I rinsed off the mud and spent the rest of the day feeling strangely cool.

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