Rob Fryer's Wild Swimming Guide, 2013/14 edition
The book for traditional sites in rivers and lakes
950 sites: 652 in the UK, 193 in France + 35 in Ireland + 20 in Spain + 50 overseas + Ratings + Grid Refs + Postcodes + Maps + Disabled Access+ 16 page index used as a Wild Swimming Database by RALSA and a Wild Skating section
Inspired by Roger Deakin's Waterlog, and encouraged by him personally, Rob first published this book (as Rob’s Directory of Cool Places) privately to members of the river swimming club at Farleigh Hungerford, who, back in 2000, had demanded that Rob run off a few copies for them. Since then it has grown in size, scope and detail every year. This year the most useful improvement is the quality and number of maps (now 32), in particular the footpath maps. One such map takes you to a deserted village beside a delightful river in France. Who wouldn't want to follow such an alluring "Treasure map" to find this swim?
It now comprises 268pp double column A4, with 950 wild swimming sites spread over the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy and elsewhere. Not a coffee table book, but with over 500 black and white pix it could certainly be called comprehensive. Safety becomes fun with the with easy-to-remember colour safety signs. The huge index makes selecting swims more precise than relying on variable reports from web contributors, as Rob has visited and rated most of the sites in the UK. The two chapters on "wild skating" and its history, not to forget the little quirky anecdotes and stories thoughout round off this record of 14 years' research into an entertaining summer companion.
Call it open water, outdoor or wild swimming, this book contains more information on river and lake swimming sites than any other known publication. The chapter maps show only selected swims so that a quick overview of the best swims in a region is simple. As chair of England's only river swimming club (Farleigh), Rob has assiduously sought out recommendations from members and visitors to the Club. He believes that, like a treasured heirloom, knowing the "provenance" of a site adds to the enjoyment of swimming there. Some site histories and details of lost sites are also given (but not counted). Wherever possible the names that local swimmers use for a site have been used, and other local words mentioned. For instance: What exactly is a goyle? How do you use a skating stave? As chair of the River & Lake Swimming Association (RALSA) he has appeared frequently on TV, always campaigning for the freedom to swim.
Rob believes in campaigning, which may mean telling uncomfortable truths. Perhaps as a result some people (fishermen?) want this book banned! A bookshop has received requests not to stock it!
This revised and extended 2013/14 edition, which contains 50 more swims is now available. The 2012/13 edition is out of print. Order here online or from any bookshop (ISBN 978-0-9538465-6-6), but Amazon are not (directly) supplied, because of their terms.However discount copies are available for just £10 by arranging to collect from Warminster, Wilts. Please ring to arrange.
268pp A4 monocolour, paperback, £14.95 inc UK post.
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