Sunday 23 October 2011

Swim 16 Track - Trout Inn to Danger Bridge

Swim 16 Map - Trout Inn to Danger Bridge

Swim 16: Godstow Lock to Danger Bridge

This swim marks the start of our winter swims and therefore a shortening of the distances. It also took us to Port Meadow where we claimed to have arrived at Oxford, a milestone worth celebrating. After the last swim's extended leg we started a bit later which gave anyone who wanted to catch up on the Kings Lock to the Godstow Lock section the opportunity to start earlier and then join us at Godstow Lock.

We met at The Perch at Binsey:

We walked up to Godstow Lock and jumped in downstream of the lock:

We swam down to and under Danger Bridge in Port Meadow - that's the Big Jump bridge and a wonderful place for a lazy swim of a summer's afternoon - and got out in the pool just the other side of the bridge:

We then walked back to The Perch for lunch.

This is part of swim #29 from Michael Worthington's I Love The Thames book and is around 2.5km

Saturday 22 October 2011

Swim 15 Catch-up - Cassington Cut to Trout Inn (ish)

It was with some trepidation that I approached the swim today. The main group did the swim two weeks ago and since then temperatures have plummeted and we were expecting a long cold swim. Also, being only the two of us with no support team, there was to be no coffee and cakes at the half way point - just an energy gel stuffed down the front of our wetsuits. But the weather was glorious so spirits were high as we walked to the start point. It turned out to be quite a walk, the Rubberwear Hiking Society getting a good outing. Half way there we met a couple of lads with a dog who looked at us strangely - until I pointed out that one of them had a tennis racket and that was no less weird. Cue much laughing!

When we arrived at the the start point we found a large group of ramblers there and had a long chat about what we were doing. So when we finally started it was already 3:30 - an hour later than planned - and there was some doubt in my mind as to whether we would make it to the end before dark!

Resplendent in full wetsuit, boots, gloves and neoprene hat I ventured into the water and, wow, was it fresh! The beautiful weather made it seem warmer though and the first two kilometres went fast. The sun was shining and we had the river to ourselves - we only saw two boats in total, and one of them was a cool steam powered launch. After 2k we stopped for a break and a gel and then ploughed on. Kings Lock appeared at the 3km mark by which time the sun was definitely starting to set and the cold was seeping through the wetsuits.

Determined to finish, we pushed on and as the sun started to set properly the bridge under the A34 appeared, followed shortly by the Trout Inn bridge. Only it was getting dark and it wasn't clear where we were supposed to get out. There's no obvious exit point by the bridge and the branch towards the Trout Inn was festooned with "Danger" signs. We pushed on again and before long Godstow Lock came into sight and we got out there, with some relief!

Cold now, we rushed back to the car which was in the public car park, not at the Trout, and changed as quickly as possible. As we were changing we met a guy and his kids getting into the water there without wetsuits. Turns out he was acclimatising to the cold water. They only spent a few minutes in, but we had a chat and I suggested he should join us for future swims.

Swim Distance - 4.75km
Time - 2:30
Water Temperature - Really Rather Cold.

And tomorrow it's the next, rather shorter, stage which sees us officially arrive in Oxford!

Sunday 9 October 2011

Swim 15 Track - Cassington Cut to Trout Inn

Swim 15 Map - Cassington Cut to Trout Inn

Swim 15: Cassington Cut to Godstow Lock

The original plan for this swim was to finish at Kings Lock but many people chose to continue on to Godstow Lock so the swim was extended.

We met in the car park of the Trout Inn at Godstow / Lower Wolvercote.  The car park gets busy but there is an alternate car park a short distance back towards Godstow.

From there we walked along the Oxford Greenbelt Way that conveniently cuts the corner of the meandering Thames, skirts the Wytham Great Wood and joins the Thames path at our entry point opposite the Cassington Cut.  If you are doing this as an afternoon swim, don't underestimate how long this walk takes or you may end up finishing in the dark!

We passed the joining of the Evenlode tributary (you can notice the cooling effect on the water!!) and stopped for late elevenses at a kind of beach about half way, just before an S-bend in the river.

We then carried on to the our exit point at Godstow Lock:

We then walked back along the tow path to the cars at the Trout and had a spot of lunch outside on the terrace in the glorious sunshine.

This swim corresponds to the remainder of swim 27, swim 28 and part of swim 29 in I Love The Thames and is about 4.75km.