Chasing Roger’s pool

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Some years ago I stumbled across a book by Roger Deakin (who was a writer, passionate enviromentalist and documentary maker) called Waterlog. It charts his travels round the British Isles seeking out and swimming in all sorts of locations and has subsequently become a revered tome in the wild swimming community. The book rekindled my love of open water swimming which had more or less lain dormant since my teenage years (apart from the odd foray into the sea whilst on holiday in Scotland etc.) and got me hooked on river and waterfall dipping in particular. I am not a long distance or speed swimmer, much preferring to “dip” for a while in an amazing location and soak up the atmosphere of the nature that I’m immersed in. However, I digress…

In the book, Deakin spends some time in and around the Dales swimming in the canal at Gargrave (no thanks) and at Ingleton outdoor pool, Beezley Falls and Kirkby Lonsdale. There is one chapter though which really sparked my interest and in it he describes a visit to a secluded and hard to reach pool in a beck near Arncliffe. His description is so beautiful that it makes you want to follow in his footsteps… so I did.

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The beck is in the vicinity of Arncliffe at the bottom of a very steep sided ravine, and the pool Deakin describes is part way down and VERY difficult to access from any direction – which all adds to it’s charm. I walked in from the top of the ghyll and followed the beck down, criss-crossing as necessary  to avoid the worst of the uneven terrain. I have been before, but it was a few years ago and I had forgotten just how gorgeous and almost mystical the area was. Approaching the spot where I remembered the pool to be, I spotted several cave mouths on the far bank and decided that on my return walk I would have a nosy in with my torch….

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In the last couple of hundred yards towards the main pool, I realised that the beck had more and more deep sections which are worth revisiting in warmer weather for a mini multi-dip adventure. Pretty soon I arrived at the deepest section, and was almost overwhelmed by it’s setting and location – the view looking on down the valley is so gorgeous!

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I took a photo on my phone looking across the main dip spot whilst the sun was out, but must have rushed it or been moving as the shutter clicked – it’s a poor photo, but I’m including it just to show this amazing place from another angle…

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Just at the left hand side of this photo, you can make out yet another cave entrance by the Ash sapling – this cave has (I am informed by a caving expert friend) the potential to be quite an extensive cave, although it hasn’t been fully “pushed” yet…  The South side of the ravine is bisected by several streams running (or more accurately falling) down the steep hillside and one arrives into the beck bottom right next to our pool. It flows down a whole series of Tufa steps and the overall effect is quite lovely.

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I didn’t measure the water temperature, but I was able to spend about 10 mins dipping and messing about and, remarkably for me, didn’t get an after-drop shiver which is my normal reaction to swimming at any time of year.. I guess it was about 6 or 7 degrees, possibly a wee bit more – but I was so in the moment I really couldn’t have cared less! After getting out and putting my drying robe on I was looking at how clear and fabulous the water looked and I was Soooo tempted to dive straight back in!

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I reluctantly got dressed and packed my rucsack, but loitered a few more more minutes with my hot coffee just taking in my surroundings and reveling in the wild nature of this hidden gem…

2 thoughts on “Chasing Roger’s pool

  1. The Deakin book is great. I’ve swum at Hackfall Wood, Redmire Falls and West Burton Falls (the latter is only a small pool, but good!) but not at the places you mention here. I feel an urge to fish out my trunks and towel coming on.

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