By: Blonde Two

It would appear that Gullet Quarry near Malvern is on most of the wild swimming or outdoor swimming maps. It deserves to be because who wouldn’t want to swim in a pool set in a fold in the Malvern Hills with azure-blue waters (even in December), vertiginous rock faces and mesmerising reflections?

Except that the wild swimming maps are wrong; you can’t swim in Gullet Quarry because it is forbidden. (We’re talking barbed wire and a million signs forbidden here!) There is something, of course, about the word ‘forbidden’ that makes the adventurer in a girl want to do something even more. Forbidden, taboo, banned, closed, refused… they all make me a bit foot-stampingly determined.

At least they do until the grown-up Blonde Two takes over and my ‘risk’ voice kicks in. Rules, you see, are usually there for a good reason. 30 mph, always take your compass, don’t drink and drive, SLOW! They are all there to keep us and the people around us safe.

And the same is regretfully true for the Gullet Quarry ‘forbidden’. People have died swimming here, not just because they were drunk or very silly, but because the water is very cold and most of the sides are very steep. This beauty spot is no longer beautiful because it is surrounded by an ugly wooden fence topped with nasty barbed-wire. One could blame the authorities for this (the Malvern Hills Conservators have always been quite strict) or it might perhaps be more fair to blame those who didn’t heed previous warnings.

Who I am to say? I confess to disappointment when I visited Gullet Quarry (despite knowing all of the history) but sometimes things do happen for good reason and sometimes sensible decisions have to be made. If I swam every day for the rest of my life I wouldn’t have time to swim in all the aqua-beauty spots that Devon has to offer. So I will be grateful for that and leave Gullet Quarry to its deep and ponderous brooding. Hopefully, given time, the fence will blend more happily into its surroundings.