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Dedham river Stour 

Flatford Mill CO7 6UL

14th August 2022
2.2km (or 1.2km) Social River Swim and Picnic
Entry £18.50 (under 16s £13.50)
The picnic's FREE (bring your own picnic), bring cake to share!
aboutThe Dedham Mill 2 Mill Swim and Picnic isn't a race. It's a social swim and a picnic in the heart of idyllic Constable Country from Dedham Mill to Flatford Mill. The Mill 2 Mill is part of the Slow Swimming campaign, aimed at encouraging swimmers to take their time and enjoy the opportunity to be out fully immersed in nature. There are no timing chips or results sheets. Everyone who takes part is a winner equally.
We are very keen to get children used to, and enjoying, swimming outdoors. This will improve their safety in and around water and should encourage them to be lifelong outdoor swimmers. There isn't an age restriction as such, but obviously we would be depending on your adequate supervision of anyone under 16. I would very much recommend that they wear a wettie, as children lose heat quicker than adults when in water, and unless they are very good swimmers a form of buoyancy aid.
To give everyone an enjoyable swim the event is split into waves. Each wave will go off at  intervals from 10:30am.
Wave 1: Seriously Need More Cake (Known as Serious), start at 10.15am, 2.2km swim. Choose this wave if you would like to actually race.
Wave 2: Relaxed 'cause we know where the cake is hidden (Known as Relaxed), 2.2km swim. Steady pace - no rush.
Wave 3
: Enjoying the Journey (Known as Enjoying it), 2.2km swim. Sculling along, maybe with a bit of paddling, smiling and chatting.
Wave 4
: Pooh Sticks. Half the distance, 1.2km swim. But still finishing at the picnic field.
Wave 5: Pooh Sticks. 1.2km. Basically it's for people who want to really enjoy the scenery and float along using floaty things (nothing bigger than a lilo please) and stick out the occasional hand or foot to paddle. It could be as little as arm bands or a rubber ring.
Rather than specific start times for each wave, as a way of spacing swimmers out, we will be having wave intervals where you are encouraged to start within a time span. This will provide a safe and comfortable experience.
The original gang
2013The Mill 2 Mill Swim started in 2013 with a bunch of friends getting together and just deciding to do it. So out came the wetties (it was September) and sandwiches were made, bottles of ginger beer were packed and it happened. The official 'start list' only had six starters and luckily an equal number of finishers.
2014We opened up participation in 2014 to friends of friends, and to friends of friends of friends, and before we knew it 50 people had entered. Even through Britain was hit by the tail of hurricane Bertha that weekend, most turned up and had a fab time. After all how much wetter could you get?
There was a spectacular display of lightening and massive showers most of the swim, but the afternoon brightened up as the last swimmers were coming in and the NT tea shop by the finishing bridge at Flatford Mill did a roaring trade in tea and cake.
2015Word of the picnic at the end of Dedham Vale had started to spread, with mentions in outdoor magazines websites, so when the entry opened in November with 150 places, it fully booked in 4 weeks.
With greater numbers and lots of spectators we started from the mill pond at Dedham, rather than the car park and finished in the picnic field rather than swimming under the bridge.
The weather was great, starting off very sunny and ending with fluffy clouds. Very much a John Constable painting.
 2016Loads of interest right from the moment the entry opened. In the end we had 220 swimmers sign in.
The weather was ideal, just as we had ordered, with white fluffy clouds and sunshine. The river was a bit chilly and a little lower than we are used, but a large number of the swimmers braved the temperature and swam in cossies, while otheres enjoyed the luxery of wetties.
2017Another classic British summer's day. Sunny with whispy clouds. The river level had dropped a bit in recent weeks, but for two days in the week before the swim it rained solidly and not only brought the level up to a perfect height it also washed a lot of the weed through, so on the day the water was very clear.
The numbers were up again, this time 290 swimmers, so we moved the registration to the picnic field at Flatford Mill and split the swimmers into two waves: Seriously Need More Cake (known as Serious) and Relaxed 'cause We Know Where The Cake is Hidden (known as Relaxed).
2018With coverage in The Guardian newspaper at Christmas and 'word of mouth' continuing there were 540 swimmers in 2018. It was such an increase that entry was closed three months before the event.
2019The weather did it's best for us. After a day of high winds and weather warnings, the day of the Swim dawned calm and sunny and stayed pretty good throughout the morning. I guess the weather gods were on our side. Our busiest year yet. There were 6 waves spread out through the morning.
Dedham Mill Pond 
whereThe swim is along the idyllic Dedham Vale in the very heart of Constable Country, with a picnic by the river at Flatford Mill.
The traditional route has an interuption this year at Fenn Bridge. The halfway point. The bridge is getting old and in danger of collapse so we will need to briefly leave the river and go around the bridge for a distance of around a hundred metres. There will be lifeguards to give any assistance required.

To Enter The Swim
Click on the blue button and go through to Entry Central. Don't forget to order your event T Shirt at the same time!
If you need to hire a wetsuit click through to www.trinswimwell.co.uk who will have it ready for you to collect at registration.
Buy the T ShirtOrder your Dedham Swim T Shirt now and have it ready for you at the picnic after the swim. All T Shirts ordered before the 17th July will have the full list of swimmers names who have pre-paid for their t shirts before that date, on the back. A unique souvenir and profits go towards our good causes. Cost £15.00.
2021 T Shirt  Small to fit 34" to 36" chest  
Medium to fit 38" to 40" chest 
Large to fit 42" to 44" chest 
XLarge to fit 46" to 48" chest 
XXLarge to fit 50" to 52" chest 
XXXLarge to fit 54" to 56" chest 
XXXXLarge to fit 58" to 60" chest 
Wetsuit Hire.
You can contact www.trinswimwell.co.uk 07919 205498 and for £25 hire a wetsuit for the event. They will have it ready for your collection at registration.
Fact Sheet

Although we try to make this event as professional as possible it is run by swimmers for swimmers. Apart from a few experts (lifeguards, first aid etc) everyone is volunteering their time to help out. If you can spare half an hour before the swim to help set up the equipment please just turn up from 8.15am and ask Cathie for a job.


 If you are planning on camping over the weekend and using the trip to explore other attractions in Constable Country here are some suggestions of where to stay:

Rushbanks Farm https://www.rushbanksfarm.co.uk/

Bloomfields Farm, Ardleigh https://www.ukcampsite.co.uk/sites/details.asp?revid=17740


For more immediate information and the chance to talk to other swimmers to arrange lifts, car sharing etc. join the Mill2Mill Facebook group here:




Please try to car share to the registration point. If you want to arrange to car share click through to the event Facebook page here https://www.facebook.com/groups/326802410994418/


Travelling from London by train.
Flatford Mill is a bit rural to get to on a Sunday, but it is possible. The most logical way would be to catch a train from Liverpool Street to Manningtree. The 8:27 will get you there at 9:40


Then there is a walk of just over 2 miles along the river (taxis might be a bit sparse at that time) which should get you to the registration at about 10:10am


Manningtree Station is taking part in the Bike and Go initiative. You can hire a bike from the station for the day for a reasonable charge. Click on this link to register first and find out availability.



Once parked carry your picnic stuff and after-swim changing stuff down to the hill and you will see the small white registration marquee in the field at the bottom of the hill.


Registration starts at 9.00am on tables relating to your surname. Please make sure you register at this point. Do not go straight to the start as we will not know you are in the river (Health and Safety).



Once you have registered you will be given a coloured wrist band to wear during the event. Please put this on and have it on during the swim.


Leave your picnic supplies and the majority of your kit in your car or here in the corral by the registration gazebo. Just take with you what you will need to walk to the start.


Walking to the start

The event is a one way swim, so you drop off most of your kit at the picnic area, then only take the absolute minimum with you to walk 2.3km to the start at Dedham. I would suggest this would be a pair of trainers and a T Shirt in a small shoe bag or small carrier bag. This will take you between 30 and 45 minutes. Don't forget to factor this in to your arrival plans.



There will be a short reminder briefing immediately before each wave and then you are free to warm up in the water before you start. The access to the river is gently sloping and very easy at this point is between waist and shoulder deep.


Wave 1: Seriously Need More Cake (Known as Serious) (2.2km swim), start at 10.15am.

Wave 2: Relaxed 'cause we know where the cake is hidden (Known as Relaxed) (2.2km swim).
Wave 3: Enjoying the Journey (Known as Enjoying it) (2.2km swim).

Wave 4: Pooh Sticks. Swim half the distance (1.2km), but still finishing at the picnic field

Wave 5: Pooh Sticks. Float and paddle half the full swim distance (1.2km) with floaty things; lilos, unicorns and swans are popular.


If you are late for your wave Ė donít panic, join in the next one.


The swim has a public footpath and easy exit points.



If you do get out, please make your way by the footpath to the finish and check out or weíll keep looking for where you have washed up to.



Whilst swimming keep an eye on your fellow swimmers, this is a casual, social event Ė not a race. If anyone looks in trouble, please be the first person to offer help. Better to offer where itís not required than leave someone in trouble.


Please donít forget at this point to go back to the registration marquee in the picnic field and sign out of the river. There will be hand washing facilities at the picnic field, but no showers.



In all the excitement of the swim donít forget to bring your picnic. Donít take it with you along the walk to the start, but leave it in or car or the corral by the registration desk at the picnic field, along with your change of clothing and towels, Dry-Robes etc.



Cake sharing table

The Mill 2 Mill Swim and Picnic is a very social affair and the swopping and sharing of cake and goodies is very much encouraged. As the event has got larger each year we have decided to help this along by providing a cake (and goodies) sharing table.

If you would like to bake a bit extra and share it around, or sample the expertise of your fellow swimmers and picnickers please make use of the sharing table at the small marquee.

Cathie and I will get it started with some off the shelf cake but feel free to be enthusiastic with your donations and donít be shy in digging in to the goodies there. If you are bringing cake to share please cut it into portion sizes.


Remember that the event is to promote the conservation of the river and the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so if possible bring your picnic in re-usable containers and re-usable drinks bottles. But if you do have any rubbish, please take it home with you for recycling, or put it in the bins provided.

If you see that someone else has left rubbish please clear that as well. We have promised the landowner, that we will leave no sign of the picnic and if possible leave the area cleaner than we found it.


Some FAQs:

One of the many attractions of swimming outdoors is that you are totally immersed in nature, but as the Slow Swims are often the first opportunity that many people have had to give it a try you might be surprised by a few things.


There are weeds in the river, you wonít get tangled in them and they wonít Ďdrag you downí whatever your non-swimming friends say. If the idea of something touching you whilst you swim is too freaky then try a wettie or most commonly leggings and a t-shirt or surfers rashie.


The river bottom can be stony, muddy, have twigs or sharp flints. A few people will swim with bare feet, and if you do then be careful as cuts can become infected in river water, but most people will use swim socks, wetsuit boots or more commonly new thin swimming shoes like these https://www.amazon.co.uk/IceUnicorn-Drainage-Walking-Driving-Boating/dp/B071YNF8VJ/

Great for walking to and from the swim as well (we have no connection to any swim shoe company)


Donít drink the water. Although the River Stour, on a bacteriological basis, is in most cases cleaner than a swimming pool, itís not wise to drink any more of the water than is necessary. There are particulates from mud and plant-life that can sometimes upset your stomach for a day or two; most people are fine but no point taking unnecessary risks. Needless to say Ė wash your hands and face before picnicking.

What to wear

No you don't have to wear a wettie. We will publish the water temperature 24 hours before the swim on the swim Facebook page and you can make your own choice:




Tow floats are allowed but arenít compulsory. They are great to use when you are outdoor swimming in small groups as they allow other river users to see you and can be great in an emergency for you or other swimmers.


Under 16s are welcome but must be accompanied by a responsible adult. It is your responsibility to ensure their safety and their ability to complete the event.

Spectators are very welcome, they can walk along the river on public footpaths all the way from Dedham Mill to Flatford, with two styles and two footbridges to cross over.


Weilís disease

Although Weilís disease is very rare in the UK, with only one or cases per year itís worth being aware. Cover any open wound with a waterproof plaster. Wash your hands and face after swimming and before eating. If you get flu or jaundice-like symptoms three to fourteen days after swimming, ask your doctor for a Leptospirosis test. It is simply treated with antibiotics.


After Drop

Outdoor river and lake temperatures tend to be lower than swimming pools, which for many is an attraction, but Slow Swimmers generate less heat than others so be wary of getting cold whilst swimming or whatís called Ďafter-dropí. As you get out and stop creating heat you can cool down very quickly and start shaking. This isnít serious but can worry the uninitiated. Itís not hypothermia and is best helped by layers of clothing, hot drinks and repairing to a warm environment. If you feel this coming on speak to one of the Lifeguards or any of the Land Crew and weíll sort you out.


For more information about other Slow Swimming events join the Slow Swimming Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/SlowSwimming/ or the Slow Swimming website www.SlowSwimming.org