In June 2019 I am attempting to swim the length of the River Severn from its source to its mouth, a total distance of 220miles.
The River Severn is the longest river in the UK and the source is found on Plynlimon in the Cambrian mountains of mid Wales, runs the flows through mid Wales into Shropshire, down through Worcestershire and Gloucestershire and finishes where it meets the Bristol Channel at Severn Beach.
The legend behind why the River Severn is so named is it is believed to be named after a Sabina (in Welsh Havren) the Nymph that was thrown into the river and drowned.
Also situated on the banks of the River Severn is Ironbridge famous for the birth place of the industrial revolution. During the swim I will be able to swim under the Famous Iron Bridge built in 1779 by Abraham Darby.
The hottest Easter on record.
The water in the River Severn still isn’t very warm a Chilly 11 deg Celsius. Friday and Saturday once with a friend and the other solo I did a couple of short swims. At the moment it is hard to find someone to swim any distance with due to the water temperature.
By Chance I contacted a friend whom Kayaks regular on the River and asked if he was out today and by chance himself and some friends were and I could join then for the last section.
The section of the river for today’s swim was from Llandrinio Bridge to Crew Green. It’s about 3-4miles two hours of swimming due to the meandering nature. Thankfully the sun was beating down on my back keeping me warm and the water was chilly. The swim took 2 hours and there are some very interesting sections.
At one point there was a interesting current which kept trying to grab me and needed some strong swimming to get through it. It felt like the water was whirling around underneath me. At times the river current wanted to take you under the bushes again needing a good strong stroke to keep me on track. A couple of sections were very shallow and walking or scrabbling was the only option.
Safety is important when swimming, I am glad that I have swam this section now so I know what too expect in June. I had experienced kayak support and a tow float and I know my tolerance levels to cold water. it was only because of the hot sunny day that I was able to spend this amount of time in water at that temperature and not get cold. If it was a cold wet windy day my swim would have been halved. It was a very enjoyable morning in the water with friends.
The last time I walked up Snowdon was four years ago and I travelled light and at a good strong pace. The route I took then was the Horseshoe Ridge which takes you over Crib Goch. This time it was not the chosen route for my walk. This time I took the Pyg track up and the Miners path down.
I haven’t done much hill walking over the last few years due to lots of swimming and continual knee pain but I have worked hard at getting fitter and stronger legs. This walk was a good test.
I was a nice day and windy. The walk was slow up but I wasn’t in a rush. Knee felt good. It was nice to be out in the hills. On the way up I met some lovely people to chat to as they passed me. The views were amazing.
As I approached the Col there was a slight bottle neck due to snow, making the last 10m slippery and difficult for less experienced walkers which slowed people down.
The summit was very windy and misty so sadly there wasn’t a view.
It wasn’t long after leaving the summit that the cloud lifted and the view opened up. The walk down was much quicker. I trotted down, almost running in places, and straight into the reward of a swim in an icy cold lake.
The water was green, clear and cold. A perfect reward. Staying in slightly longer than I would normally.
It was cold but hot tea and warm cloths I was soon warmed up. A lady that I met that day gave me a wonderful compliment saying that I am an inspiration women kind.
The walk down after this was uneventful. A nice meander back to the car.
I started open water swimming just over three and a half years ago and it has changed my life. My obsession with swimming came about after I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in my right knee at the age of 34. Throughout my twenties I spent most winters skiing where picked up several bad knee injuries which needed surgery. After I stopped doing ski seasons, I took up long distance walking. This added further strain to my knee. I started to struggle to walk and ended up using a walking stick and only managing to walk short distances before the pain became too much. A friend of mine suggested that I should take up swimming. I was reluctant at first having never given it any thought before, but as my mobility reduced still further, I realised that I needed some form of exercise to stay fit. So, I literally took the plunge.
I brought a wetsuit and went for a swim in Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) in North Wales. From that day I was hooked. I dragged my friends to shore watch whilst I swam not caring what the weather was like. I managed to swim for just a couple of months during that first year before the major knee surgery I needed could not be put off any longer. I had stem cell therapy on the cartilage in my right knee and a meniscus transplant. I was out of the water for three months before my surgeon said I could go back in the pool and another six before he said I could swim outdoors. Just before I had stopped swimming for the surgery, I had joined a swimming group on Facebook. This was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Swimming doesn’t end with summer in fact once summer is over then swimming becomes more sociable and extreme. myself and my friends swim 365 days of the year. in the winter we seek out the ice and snow. A recent trip to the Lake district this winter saw us plunging in lakes covered in thick ice and snow which took 20minutes to break with the ice axe so that we could wallow in the clear crisp 0 deg c water underneath.
2018 was my biggest swimming year, myself and 3 others in the team completed a 4 person English Channel Crossing in June whilst the water was still only 13 Deg C.
Llyn Tegid 2 way, Big Welsh Swim Llyn Padarn 9km (although training later in the summer I swam 12km), Dee Mile and Windermere one way in September. All swims are in Skins.
For 2019 I have decided to set a new challenge for myself. The planning and training are underway to try and become the first woman to swim the length of the River Severn and the first person ever to do it is skins. The source of the Severn is in Mid Wales high on the hill of Plynlimon above the Havren Forest. It then flows through Wales, though my home county of Shropshire before heading towards Worcester and Gloucester and finishing at the Bristol Channel. The total length of the river is 220 miles or 354Km. It is the longest river in the UK.
I will be documenting my swims and adventures leading up to, during and after this adventure.