Swimmer defends Waterswallows wild bathers amid Buxton's ‘Blue Lagoon’ chaos

A wild swimmer has told how he collected 13 bin bags full of rubbish at Waterswallows Quarry after young people descended on the quiet lake to ‘party’ during hot weather.

Friday, 5th June 2020, 1:17 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th June 2020, 12:52 pm

Tom Martin, 37, spent three hours collecting beer bottles and cans, disposable barbecues and laughing gas canisters at the quarry on Wednesday.

He told how the hot weather had brought a swaithe of young people to the lake - many of them unacclimatised to the cold water and taking dangerous jumps from high cliffs at its sides.

Teacher Tom has swum at Waterswallows along with other wild swimmers for the last four years.

Waterswallows Quarry after Tom Martin's clean-up job
Waterswallows Quarry after Tom Martin's clean-up job

He said the quarry’s owners tolerated the small community of High Peak swimmers entering the water as they respected the environment and had a mantra to ‘leave it cleaner than we found it’.

However the swimmer fears recent events not just at Waterswallows but also at a disused quarry in Harpur Hill’s known to some as the ‘Blue Lagoon’ may put an end to a pastime enjoyed by people of ‘all ages and all walks of life’.

Tom told how Waterswallows with its basalt rock had a harmless PH level of 7.5 - unlike the ‘Blue Lagoon’ which is known to be similar to bleach.

He described how the cold water provided people with an opportunity to forget their troubles and swim quietly while boosting their health - with benefits including better circulation and immune system.

Tom Martin has been wild swimming at Waterswallows for four years

Tom, a member of the Outdoor Swimming Society, told how following the chaotic scenes in Harpur Hill he and other swimmers had been criticised for their unusual hobby.

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However he added: “There’s a big difference between people who swim responsibly, who keep the place tidy and respect the environment and these young people who come up in the summer to jump off cliffs.

“We follow advice about how long it’s safe to spend in the water and spend time acclimatising to it.

Tom Martin, with a mountain of rubbish in the background at Waterswallows Quarry

“And it shows how much respect people have for this place that they come from places like Glossop or Sheffield and take rubbish away with them that they didn’t create.”

Tom said throughout the year people visited the quarry individually or as groups to have a sensible swim.

He added: “The quarry is private property and I guess you could call what we do a kind of civil trespass.

“But the owners turn a blind eye to individual swimmers who respect the place and are responsible for their own safety.

Tom Martin spent three hours collecting rubbish at Waterswallows Quarry

“People have had a go at us over social distancing but during lockdown we’ve come in very small groups of two or three and we’ve kept our distance from each other.

“The visitors we’re getting at the moment are leaving a lot of mess - I found items of clothing and even a tent blowing around.”

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