My 5 top swim spots in Huntingdonshire – By Sophie Etheridge
Huntingdonshire has many delightful walks and parks and unbeknown to many, some beautiful swim spots too. Having a river flowing through the town obviously provides many different places to enter and exit the water but as a disabled swimmer I can’t use all of them. However, I am luckier than some as I still have multiple spots to choose from, below is a list of my top 5 spots in Huntingdonshire:
- Godmanchester Portage point – visual.questions.tango
In Godmanchester there are 2 portage points, one either side of the lock but only one is an easy entrance for me. To get to this spot you have a reasonable walk down a footpath along the river heading towards the lock but just before you get to it there is a turn off and hidden in the trees and bushes is a flight of steps down to a portage point. Once you have gone down the steps you can slide off the pontoon and you’ll be about thigh deep in water. It’s a magical place to swim and even just dip, enclosed, surrounded by trees and wildlife and if you’re lucky you may even spot a Kingfisher or Heron.
- Huntingdon Slipway – youths.drilled.blacked
Huntingdon Riverside is a lovely place to visit, there is a playground, a large field, a rowing club, boat hire company and much more; it is also home of my next swim spot. This entry/exit point is the easiest one I have found as it is a boat slipway, which means it’s a steady ramp down straight into the river. There is a large car park right next to the entry point too so it is good for those chilly days when you don’t want to walk far to get back to your car! Despite the spot not being hidden away like some of the others, once you are in the water you wouldn’t know there is a huge car park nearby, it gives a totally unique view of the riverside. You can swim both up and downstream here, if you head upstream then you are able to swim under the Old Bridge which is a well-preserved medieval stone bridge that joins Godmanchester and Huntingdon – its great fun to shout and sing under!
- Houghton Mill – correctly.enjoy.clever
The Houghton Mill is a National Trust site of an 18th century working watermill and just round the corner can be found one of my favourite swim locations during the summer months. This is a bit of a strange spot as again it is just off a well-used tarmac footpath so don’t be surprised to see several people about when getting ready to get in. The entry point is a slope down into the river and a drop at the end. You swim upstream from this place and it’s a long stretch of beautiful river with a meadow on one-side and the back of large, expensive houses and gardens on the other. It can sometimes be busy with boats but when its not, it is incredibly peaceful, you can’t hear traffic and are totally surrounded by nature.
- Lake Ashmore – middle.excavated.dolls
Lake Ashmore is a former gravel pit that, in 1986 was emptied and clay lined to transform it into a water ski lake. Over the past couple of years, it has been turned into a hub for water sports, including open water swimming. However, this venue is normally only open from April to September and to swim here you have to be a member of NOWCA and pay their fee each time you swim. It’s a great place to swim, with the lake well maintained and safety cover at all open water swim sessions. You can swim a 500m course as many times as you like in the timeslot you book. It’s a great venue when starting out in open water where you can increase your confidence and late in the summer months you get to watch some truly stunning sunsets with the geese flying overhead too.
- Hinchingbrooke Country Park – campsites.edge.decency
Hinchingbrooke Country Park covers 150 acres of open grasslands, mature woodland and lakes. It is a great place to visit for families, nature spotters, dog walkers and those who wish to enjoy the great outdoors. On a Friday evening during the summer months if you are walking by the lake you’re likely to see some people swimming in it! Huntingdon BRJ Run and Tri club members have permission to use the lake for open water swimming on Friday evenings during the summer months, please note that this is the only time/people that are supposed to swim in the lake. This makes my top 5 list for the simple reason that its where I started out. Due to an accident and becoming disabled I had a 5 year break from open water swimming and getting back into the sport was scary but BRJ Run and Tri welcomed me with open arms at one of their Friday night sessions and the rest, as they say, is history. The club has a lovely community of regular swimmers and provide a safety kayak and spotters at the lake and I also happen to be their resident open water swimming coach too.