Posts Tagged ‘Rutland Water’


Bank Holiday Monday proved to be an exceptional day at Rutland Water.


Despite a damp start, the sun came out to play as did hundreds of children who delighted in the seaside atmosphere. Overflow carparks strained at the seams as thousands flocked to a facility encouraged and promoted by the Outdoor Swimming Society.


They built it and they came in their thousands.


A heartening example of what can be achieved to advance the interests and quality of life for all.

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Robert Aspey Rutland Water Bathing Beach

The bathing beach is back again this year with an improved infrastructure.

Ever popular with family’s and young children the paddling area is being closely monitored by lifeguards with specialist training. Deeper water in the swimming zone near the buoy line means that their is something for everyone.

Rutland Beach 21-06-2015 (2)

This life-guarded swimming oasis boasts a sandy beach and warm clear water. It stands as a beacon of best practice, a shining example that could be replicated country wide if only local authorities and water companies could face up to and overcome their current prejudice towards outdoor swimmers. Nearby in Stamford the council swimming facilities included a river swimming area at Stamford Meadows.

Stamford Meadows Bathing Place

For those of us who have traveled in Europe and America, bathing beaches on rivers and lakes are the rule rather than the exception. This may surprise those who assume that its the American litigation culture that has seeded opposition to river and lake swimming through risk aversion. Outdoor swimmers have a much easier time in America!

If we are going to make prejudice and discrimination history, we must first understand the history of prejudice against swimmers.

Why not visit Rutland Water Bathing Beach this year?

Take a look at the swimmers list of ASA approved bathing places  from 100 years ago on the Hung Out to Dry website.

Opening hours for the beach are as follows:

Wed – Fri 11am-3pm   Sat- Sun 10am-6pm

May open 7 days a week during school holidays.

Best to phone if traveling far as can be weather dependent 01780 686800

Visit the Rutland Water Beach webpage.

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Wild swimming Abbey Park Paddling Pool Leicester

The City of Leicester was once swim city with outdoor bathing places built all along the river and canal. Abbey Park had a lido in the centre, with swimming races held above the weir and water polo matches below it in Tumbling Bay, the steps swimmers used are still there. The paddling pool was constructed in 1930.[1] Its excellent design, with a large grassed area surrounding the circular pool, made it extremely popular. In close proximity, a sand pit, swings and other play equipment meant that families with young children could enjoy a full day’s excitement. Youngsters were always reluctant to leave at teatime, having had as much fun as they would have had at the seaside. The pool used to be re-filled on a weekly basis during the summer season and fi-clor[2]was added to keep the water clean.

Wild Swimmers Abbey Park Leicester

The hot summer of 1995 saw the appearance of blue/green algae in the nearby Rutland Water reservoir. Concerns were raised when animals drinking the water suffered ill health. To prevent any such danger to Leicester’s citizens, it was decided to close all of Leicester’s paddling pools, even though contamination was most unlikely in a maintained pool. The chances of such a threat developing in a paddling pool, which is emptied and refilled each week, are in fact zero. This then raised questions over the decision to close the pools. Was it made due to a lack of understanding regarding the issues involved, or did the appearance of algae at Rutland Water prove a fortuitous turn of events for those keen to save money on children’s amenities?

Rutland Water 2014

Leicester used to have five paddling pools, all now closed with two converted into skateboarding Mecca’s because skateboarding is supposedly safer than paddling, though I’m not convinced myself.

However the Leicester Mercury has brought good news this month reporting City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby as saying: “A lot of people will have fond memories of paddling at Abbey Park and it is a shame to see how the facility there has been neglected. I think people miss it… Now we have a chance to recreate something similar to what went before but to modern standards which will be a lot of fun.”

This is certainly welcome step in the right direction. As the country’s first environment City and with increasing focus on its rich and fascinating history, especially following the discovery of King Richard III, Leicester City Council have a unique opportunity. Perhaps the rising pride in the City will help it overcome its current prejudice towards outdoor or wild swimmers.

[1] Opening two years later.

[2] A chemical agent similar to chlorine.

UPDATE: Abbey Park Paddling Pool

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the refurbishment of the paddling pool at Abbey Park.
As previously reported in the Leicester Mercury in 2014 the city council was considering the refurbishment of the old paddling pool at Abbey Park to create a designated water play area. The estimated cost of this work was £400,000.
Following further investigation into this proposal it was clear that the maintenance and running costs for this type of facility are high and at a time when the council has to make substantial savings from maintenance budgets these costs were prohibitive.
It was therefore agreed that the funding that was provisionally allocated to this project would instead be used to carry out major improvements to some of the existing children’s play areas within the city.
The following play areas have been identified as being priority sites for improvements from this funding:
Cossington Street (Belgrave)
Fosse Recreation Ground  (Fosse)
Monks Rest Gardens  (Humberstone & Hamilton)
Onslow Street  (Stoneygate)
Ryder Road  (New Parks)
Uppingham Road Gardens  (North Evington)
Victoria Park  (Castle)
Western Park  (Western)
Consultation with local residents and children is currently ongoing and these play area improvements will be completed by March 2016.
Yours Sincerely,
Peter Soulsby

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The Opening of Rutland Water Bathing Beach is a giant leap forward for any water authority. Anglican Water Services remain committed to this project which shows just how much attitudes are changing towards wild swimming here in England.

Sadly there have been problems organising enough volunteer lifeguards to man the beach and this has delayed the opening of the beach to swimmers. However plans are in place to provide lifeguard cover with both employed and voluntary lifeguards from next year.  An official opening is now planned for Easter 2014 with preparations for this to start in September.

Robert Aspey Inland Access Officer for the Outdoor Swimming Society has worked tirelessly on this project along with Anglican Water Services.

The Rutland Water Bathing Beach will be a wonderful provision and amenity for swimmers across the region and will add greatly to the experience of visiting Rutland Water.

For the latest news on Rutland Water Bathing Beach click here.

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The 2012 summer has been typically British; short blasts of hot sunshine, damp around the edges and a determination on the part of the nation’s swimmers to make the very best of it. When the sun shone, swimmers were out in force across the country, thousands of them, even if most were unaware that they were ‘wild swimming’ or even of the existence of the Outdoor Swimming Society. Ever since the lido era changed the focus of swimming from the early morning to the sunny day, it takes a spell of good weather for our numbers to be revealed. Yet when it comes to our freedom to swim and the general public’s perception of swimming in the wild, there is still a long way to go. There have been hopeful signs. Progress by swimmers at Sparth and promises of a bathing beach at Rutland Water are two good examples, but, alas, two swallows don’t make a summer, and our freedom to swim lies very much in the balance. Recognition that some may wish to plunge into the Thames sparked a ban by the Port of London Authority and a backlash from the Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

For my part I feel irresistibly drawn to water, and slighted when prevented from swimming in it. I feel a sense of belonging; of attachment to the aquatic environment; a sense of deep satisfaction and fulfillment as I sink in and swim, and of course swimming is such fun, it puts a smile on the face of the swimmers as well as the faces of those looking on. I remember watching a Michael Palin travelogue; his train broke down in the middle of nowhere and as it was going to be quite a wait for a rescue business men, mothers, bankers and children stripped down to their underpants and went swimming in a nearby lake. Of course, the British wouldn’t dream of leaving the train, but perhaps we would become a little less stuffy if we took off our ‘official hats’ from time to time and connected with people and with the fun of actually being alive.

I revisited Blenheim Palace at the beginning of August and savored a stolen moment of sheer bliss. The majestic setting steeped in history and the beauty of the scenic panorama inevitably drew me in. Like a bright lustrous wine that can be savored on the palate for but a moment, my swim in the main lake was, alas, a singular pleasure. Much as I would have loved to swim beneath Vanbrugh’s Grand Bridge and on into the Queen Pool, two ‘concerned’ members of the Blenheim staff requested that I not go back in for fear that I might encounter fishing hooks and line. Anxiety that should I be injured, they would be liable brought an end to my discreet adventure, even if it did not sit well with the Churchill spirit. With their reasoning I did not agree, but their instantaneous appearance from nowhere, along with their pleasant good manners made it hard to be confrontational. A little earlier I had enjoyed seeing an owl swoop over the heads of wide eyed children, a mock jousting tournament and sword fight ending with a pretty girl being dragged behind a horse in a sack. Swimming in the lake seemed much less dangerous, but then you can’t be too careful can you? Well perhaps you can. If we don’t encourage sport and activity how will we inspire a generation? Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee have shown us how it’s done; now it’s up to the Nation to keep the flame alive.

Across the country news reports have expressed concern about youngsters cooling off in the brief spells of sunshine. A hard hitting video produced by United Utilities has been targeting teenagers warning that it is never safe to swim in open water. In Plymouth there has been much concern about tombstoning.  Participants as young as eleven are reported to be risking their lives by plunging from great heights into the sea, yet by way of contrast, the Nation has been gripped by the display of somersaults and agility as Team GB divers competed for medals at the Olympics. Divers spun with heads just missing the diving board, entertaining a worldwide audience to standing ovation. One teenagers’ desire to compete was fuelled at a young age having joined the divers on Plymouth Hoe. Not that long ago youngsters were able to jump from the seaside diving boards with a depth gauge reminding them of sea levels and safety. The British were proud to see Tom Daley receive his well deserved medal, applauding his achievement at the Aquatics Centre. Teenagers love the thrill of jumping and diving, those of us less brave are content to stand and watch and cheer them on. Perhaps it’s not the active teenagers of Plymouth who should be condemned, but rather the authoritarians that wrecked the facilities, which for me were the highlight of Plymouth Hoe, leaving the would be ‘Tom Daley’s’ little choice, other than to jump from the cliff top.

Youngsters are our future, and this is especially true when it comes to wild swimming. The National Trust has listed wild swimming as one of fifty things children should do before they are 11 3/4. Even ROSPA now recommend wild swimming. Yet wisdom dictates that newcomers receive a little education if they are to do so safely.

A paper in the Lancet, timed to coincide with the Olympics, compares the rates of physical activity worldwide country by country. Great Britain was highlighted as one of the least active, with those 15 years and over far less lively than those in France, Australia and despite the stereotyping, even America. According to the Lancet, insufficient activity has nearly the same effect on life expectancy as smoking!  I think we should get out and grab life while we can. Let’s get active and swim our way into the future.

Perhaps the weather is to blame for our British reserve, for our stiffness and self rectitude. In hot countries the beaches, pools, and rivers fill as the mercury rises. People stop worrying and just get on with the happy business of cooling down and relaxing. Does the swimmer have the right to swim? I say we do. Let’s be inspired by the 2012 Olympics, let’s get out, get active and set an example by swimming free in 2012.

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Rutland Water Bathing Beach

Symonds Yat Bathing Beach

Wild swimmers were disappointed to hear at the weekend that after deciding to put years of prejudice towards open water swimming aside, the opening of a bathing beach at Rutland Water was to be postponed.

The two year drought and water levels as low as the summer of 1976 meant that the opening would have to be delayed until at least 2013. The Outdoor swimming Society reported: “Anglian Water Services… are still committed to opening the bathing beach, and some clearance work for the beach has already been done, but they want to wait till next year before spending any more funds on infrastructure works (signage, buoys, delivery of sand, etc) ready for an opening in 2013.”

However water levels have now risen significantly. Kevin Appleton: Visitor Operations Manager contacted me today, explaining that “the project has been delayed at the moment and a decision was taken to postpone the opening due to low water levels currently being experienced in the drought conditions. The rainfall in April has allowed us to fill the reservoir to its current levels as you have mentioned. However, this does not alleviate the drought conditions in the region and unless we continue to get consistent rainfall over the coming months and winter we will expect the reservoir levels to start to fall again. At this time we are carefully considering our options before making any decisions on opening the beach this year.”

Let us hope that we will be able to celebrate the freedom to swim in Rutland Water in this special Jubilee Olympic year.

If you are puzzled by the attitude to open water or wild swimming here in England, you may enjoy reading the history of open water swimming: Hung Out to Dry available from just £9.99 including P&P.

For the latest news on Rutland Water Bathing Beach click here.

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Rutland Water Bathing Beach could soon be as popular as Cotswold Water Park pictured here

Rutland Water Bathing Beach could soon be as popular as Cotswold Water Park pictured here

After a cold but dry winter many swimmers have been looking forward to the opening of a bathing beach at Rutland Water this summer. The fact that this is even being considered is a tectonic shift in opinion in favor of recreational open water swimming. We have Robert Aspey, of the RASLA, to thank for the progress that has been made so far, but the weather is to blame for the fact that the beach will not now open until summer 2013.

Is this a delaying tactic on behalf of Anglian Water? Not at all, water levels at the reservoir are still too low for the project to continue this year despite all the rain we have had. Having sailed on this water many times I can vouch for the fact that in dry conditions entry to the lake is very muddy indeed.

Hopefully by summer 2013 water levels will have risen and a sandy beach will be ready and waiting for summer swimmers.

For the latest news on Rutland Water Bathing Beach click here.

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How to orientate during swimming

Concerns for wildlife could scupper plans to stage open water swimming in a lake at a nature reserve, reports the Leicester Mercury.

Dishley Pool, near Loughborough, has been earmarked as a suitable location for outdoor swimming by sporting events firm Racetime Events, it is hoped that the facility would enable training for the triathlon in preparation for the Olympics later this year but this is now doubtful as Charnwood Borough Council, which owns the site off Derby Road, have recommended an application to change the use of the pool be refused by councillors.
Outdoor swimming resurfaced after centuries of neglect right here in Britain during the industrial revolution. Yet since the 1970s outdoor swimming has been rigorously opposed in England despite very different attitudes throughout the rest of Europe. It is true that wildlife has taken over at neglected swimming holes in the mean time, but outdoor swimmers are very sensitive to their environment. Unhappy with swimming in unnatural chlorinated waters when they enter open water they treat it with due respect. Simply by designating a small stretch of the bank for the use of swimmers, habitats are preserved and disturbance to wildlife is negligible.

The whole issue of the right to swim in inland open waters is a hot topic at the moment. A campaign to get British Waterways to allow swimming to continue at Sparth, Huddersfield has been met with understanding by officials. Determined to bring an end to unreasoning prejudice towards open water swimmers, NO SWIMMING signs are soon to be removed and replaced with information boards instead. This represents a turn in the tide of opposition so prevalent until now. In fact this momentous change in the swimmers fortune has attracted the attention of the BBC who intends to run a feature on the current affairs program Inside Out.
It is proposed to allow swimming at Rutland Water this year should water levels be suitable, the very idea of which would have been unthinkable two or three years ago. In view of this perhaps now is the time to reconsider the fate of swimmers today.
Read the fascinating story of open water swimming.

Read the fascinating story of open water swimming.

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