08/06/2015 by Carl Reynolds
The wonderful thing about having relatives distributed around the country is that, on these isles, you’re never far from some water to swim in. Having played some small part in the renaissance of outdoor swimming in the UK some years ago, I have passed the phase, that many open water swimmers have, of looking at every bit of water as a possible swim spot. I no longer crane my neck when passing over bridges to see if we can get in; pour over OS maps to see if footpaths run adjacent to curves in the river…but I still carry an emergency swim kit of trunks, goggles, earplugs and sports towel, that’s the size of a thick A4 book. My enthusiasm may no longer be so ebullient, but it is still effervescent.
Cardingmill Valley Reservoir was once the main water supply for the town of Church Stretton, which embraces the A49 as it passes between the Long Mynd and Caer Caradoc. And there are various sub-pools on the way up. One of Mrs Ape’s brothers and their family lives there, and back in the days when I wanted to get into anything deep and wet, we had walked up to the disused reservoir, ignored the DO NOT SWIM signs and plunged into its dark depths. These days the National Trust has a more informed attitude to swimming and posts helpful advice to swimmers at the side of the reservoir. Once we were aberrant scamps, in 2015 we are participative users!
For readers of a non-insulated variety, be aware that this body of water is some height above sea level and is refreshing. Mid to late afternoon it is bathed in sunlight – the rest of the time, the shade you emerge back into will be chilling. Enjoy, and while you are up there, please take a spare plastic bag and pick up any detritus left by the unenlightened.
The pictures show paths and water around and about. Park in Cardingmill Valley NT car park (about £3 all day) and walk up past the shop, then the ford and hang a left at the path thereafter, over a very small wooden bridge. Continue up for a hundred metres or so until you see the bank of the reservoir. Ascend and swim.