By: Blonde Two

I recent weeks I have been lucky enough, in my capacity as a freelance writer, to have been working on an exciting project in London. I have been travelling up by train and enjoying the views along the way. One thing I have noticed has been the number of waterways I have seen. As part of my London research has involved the Thames Path, I found myself wondering whether or not it would be possible to swim from my home in Torquay to the centre of London. Here are the results of my investigation (but almost certainly not my great swimming challenge!)

  1. Swim Torquay to Exmouth then up the Exe Estuary (canal option available) to Exeter, then Tiverton 63km (total)
  2. Swim the Grand Western Canal to Holcombe Rogus 80km (total)
  3. Swim/wade the River Tone to Taunton 100km (total)
  4. Swim the Bridgewater & Taunton Canal to Bridgewater 120km (total)
  5. Swoosh the tidal River Parrett to Burnham on Sea 140km (total)
  6. Brave the tidal rushes round the coast and up the Avon to Bristol 190km (total)
  7. Continue up the River Avon to Bath 230km (total)
  8. Swim the Kennet and Avon Canal to Reading 340km (total)
  9. Jump in the Thames and swim to Westminster Bridge in London 450km (total)

This amazing route (thanks to the OS Maps app) wouldn’t be without its hazards. Amongst other obstacles, I would need to swoosh the UK’s largest tidal range at Avonmouth, negotiate either low or ridiculously high waters across Somerset, cross the Dundas Aqueduct and climb the 29 locks at Caen Hill. I am not going to of course, at the moment, the most I am swimming at any one time is 1km. This bit of map fun has been an example of indulgent route planning and vicarious route swimming. I have learned two useful mapping things in the process:

  1. It is possible to swim uphill (this route has an impressive height gain of 1920m)
  2. There is an OS map symbol for canal lock (I will leave it up to you to go for a walk or swim and discover what it is)