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River Nene

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Get to Know Us. Length: pages. Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled. Bryn, like an aquatic pied piper, led me carefully past a pair of swans.

We waved them off and for a moment, it felt a bit Mike Leigh. Our second swim was replete with geographical exactitude. They say nothing matches the zeal of a convert and Bryn is also an enthusiast, an encourager, an enabler — and a breaststroker, at that.

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Where the river makes a small swoop, the council have added wide steps for an easy entry point, contradicting the nearby sign that says Swimming Not Recommended. Bryn explained how that sign read No Swimming for a while, but local people complained, as swimming here has tradition. As if to prove the point, as we got out, a gang of teenage boys launched themselves in with the abandonment of young people who have just finished an exam. Someone sat smoking on the steps as we got in.

A dog being walked along the bank caught sight of us and stood, staring, bemused.

No swans, no boats, just an abundant edging of wild flowers, our two heads on the look out for kingfisher and voles, and warm water doing a slow dance. We swam up to where a cable crossed above us, about 1km there and back.

A river-swimmer’s paradise in the heart of England | Travel | The Guardian

He explained it was a parasite from snails that gets under your skin. The Nene now meanders through this wide, flat valley with flood plains, lakes, pools and mature flooded gravel pits on either bank, a by-product of the large glacial deposits in the valley. At Denford the river divides into two channels, one of which is used for navigation. The channels approach the town of Thrapston and village of Islip, passing under two adjacent viaducts.

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One carries the busy A14 trunk road; the other carries the disused railway track bed. Between the town of Thrapston and the village of Islip, the Nene is spanned by a low nine-arched bridge.