[OSS Oxon] "Throw down" swim - Shifford Lock to Newbridge

Sharon Curtis sacurtis2 at gmail.com
Mon Aug 22 10:53:41 BST 2011

I've got a trip report too. It was feeling way too long since the
lovely OSS swims from Radcot Lock to Shifford Lock, and I can't make
next weekend's swims, and it was a glorious day yesterday so in
desperate need of some Thames swimming, I decided on the spur of the
moment to swim the next section, from Shifford Lock to Newbridge. You
can't "catch up" in advance so this must be a "throw down" swim. Look
what you've done, OSS, you have me hooked now!!!

3 kingfisher sightings, 1 grey heron, 3 swans,
3 boats, 1 powered punt, 1 poled punt, 1 canopied rowing boat, 1 canoe,
1 magnificent sunset, 1 ford. 1 swimmer, 1 walker (the wonderful Charles).

We approached Shifford Lock via Duxford ford. The water was about 8
inches deep across the ford, with a slippery concrete surface.

The most original question of the day was from the canoeists, who
unlike all the other boat occupants, did not shout "Isn't it cold?"
but instead asked, "How far to the nearest pub?".

The third swan encountered (0.5 mile downstream of Shifford Lock) was
most unusual. Firstly, it was not mute but did seagull impressions.
Rather good seagull impressions, just not as loud. I kid you not.
Secondly, rather than the usual swan behaviour of keeping to one side
of the river as I kept to the other side to pass it, it seemed to
think it a personal duty to keep fifty yards ahead of me and shepherd
me all the way to Newbridge. Once we were within sight of the bridge,
it turned round, started an immense flapping and ran on the water to
take off, and made it, this immense bird airborne, flying back in the
direction of Shifford.

Two of the kingfisher sightings consisted of a bright turquoise flash
in the distance as a bird shot out of the reeds area and headed for
cover.  The other sighting was as I swam breaststroke gently just past
a big clump of reeds, only to find a bird with a bright orange breast
sitting on a branch extending out over the water, just a few yards
away. I sculled quietly in position for a while, trying not to let the
current take me further along. The kingfisher looked at me for a
while, and looked around, showing me its characteristic long sharp
beak, and then after a short while, flew off.

I had started at 4.30pm for an early evening swim, and the sun made
the whole thing glorious, going from bright sunny sunshine to
fantastic dappled effects and long shadows as it got lower in the sky.
 There was a magnificent sunset going on after I got to Newbridge and
the Rose Revived.

By the way, for future reference, there are a couple of getting out
points at the Rose Revived. One is a small steeply-angled concrete
ramp just below the grassy area with all the pub tables, which looks
feasible if you turn round and sit on the ramp with feet towards the
water, then reverse up the bank. However, I didn't fancy providing
entertainment for the pub-goers, so I used an exit point further along
the bank, just past the punts/rowing boats hire place. There's a sort
of low concrete raft attached to the bank, which you can either haul
yourself up over, if you're feeling strong, or get someone to help
you, or at the upstream side of the raft, it is thigh-deep (but muddy)
there and easy to get out without assistance. An added plus is that
the concrete raft is much less overlooked by people so makes a good
place to change.

There are also lots of points along the route where there are shallow
entry/exit points so if you are getting fed cookies from walkers this
is easy to manage.

The river temperature felt slightly higher than in previous swims, and
I made it to the endpoint half an hour earlier than expected, compared
to previous swims. I don't think I have improved my speed that much,
so I think the current must have been a bit faster in this stretch of
the river - possibly due to the rain a few days ago?


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