What better way to bring yourself back down to reality than by taking a plunge into ice cold water… in your private lake on your own estate.
A brave selection of celebrities including the Beckhams, Prue Leith and Ed Sheeran have been doing just that after taking up wild swimming, in their own gardens.
The craze has caused landscape gardeners to see a rise of around 150 per cent in the wealthy building ‘status lakes’ – a property feature that was popularly adopted by wealthy aristocrats in the Georgian era as a status symbol.
David and Victoria Beckham started digging a 3,000 square metre (0.7 acre) lake at their £6 million Cotswolds home in September after winning a planning war with their neighbours.
David and Victoria Beckham started digging a 3,000 square metre (0.7 acre) lake at their £6 million Cotswolds home in September (mock up planning document)
Despite protests from residents, West Oxfordshire district council gave the couple permission to create a kidney-shaped water feature on their home in August.
While Ed Sheeran’s installation of a ‘nature pond’ at his £3.7 million estate in Framlingham, Suffolk, was met with resistance from locals after aerial pictures revealed the pond seemed to be intended for swimming – with a jetty to dive off and a wooden Romany-style caravan, which could be used as a changing room.
The original 2016 planning application described how the pond would ‘support nature conservation… providing a natural habitat for breeding and wetland invertebrates such as dragonflies and water beetles, as well as providing a source of drinking water to birds and mammals’.
David and Victoria Beckham have started digging a lake at their £6 million Cotswolds home
Ed Sheeran’s installation of a ‘nature pond’ at his £3.7 million estate in Framlingham, Suffolk, was met with resistance from locals
Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith is thought to have installed a pond within her Oxfordshire estate when her children learnt to swim.
Ed Sheeran, who is the richest young British star, with wealth of £210 million
Director of The Swimming Pond Company Paul Mercer, who had just taken a refreshing Sunday morning dip himself, told MailOnline: ‘It seems like the world had discovered swimming ponds this year and we have never been so busy and have almost a full order book for next year.
‘During the Spring lockdown, the phone didn’t stop ringing as people discovered how important their homes were, especially during wonderful weather. Plans were being made to improve our homes on a big scale and we have certainly benefitted. Even now, well into November we are still receiving lots of enquiries for swimming ponds.
‘So, why is this? It’s a combination of elements, which include the recognition of just how fragile our planet is at this time in terms of biodiversity and the desire to just do something about it on an individual basis.
‘It is the need to reconnect with the natural world, interact with nature and to educate the next generation about the joys of swimming and taking care of our environment.’
Prue Leith’s cotswold manor house, where her children grew up swimming in the lake
Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith is thought to have installed a pond within her Oxfordshire estate when her children learnt to swim
Garden designer Xa Tollemache, who herself has a moat at home in Helmingham Hall in Suffolk, told The Telegraph: ‘The trend of wild swimming has encouraged people to use water for their exercise. It makes you feel better and now has even been proved to be beneficial to dementia. The late Lady Salisbury, a famous gardener, told me she has a cold bath every morning and I saw how sparklingly radiant she was.
Prue Leith at home in the Cotswolds
‘If you can afford it, then making a pool or lake that can be seen from your window is always interesting, from the movement of it or the wildlife that it attracts.’
But they don’t come cheap with a small pond for swimming averaging £35K, whilst a larger pond of around two acres could cost £250k to £400K, reports the publication.
Mr Mercer added: ‘Swimming ponds look great all year round and typically are designed to sit within the wider landscape.
‘Most customers live in beautiful historic buildings where a pool would simply look out of place and devalue the property.
‘Let’s face it a swimming pond is much more in keeping with our normally grey skies.’
And having a lovely view isn’t the only benefit as two weeks ago researchers at Cambridge University discovered a potential link with wild swimming (or cold water immersion) and a slowing down of the onset of dementia.
Their research centred on swimmers lido in Parliament Hill, North London, where they found that the hardy regulars, who safely take their body temperatures to hypothermic levels, had a ‘cold shock’ protein in their blood that has been shown to repair some of the damage caused by dementia in mice.
The Who’s Roger Daltrey dug has also been building lakes at his 400-acre estate, Holmshurst Manor, in East Sussex, where he opened four lakes as Lakedown Trout Fishery
Professor Giovanna Mallucci, who runs the UK Dementia Research Institute’s Centre at Cambridge, said the discovery could lead to new drug treatments which may help hold dementia at bay. The research is at an early stage, but it centres on the hibernation ability that all mammals retain, which is prompted by exposure to cold.
A separate study on swimmers in Devon found it significantly decreased symptoms in those suffering from anxiety and alleviated the mental and physical indicators of the perimenopause and menopause.
Other notable wild swimmers include David Cameron, Susannah Constantine, Ferne Cotton and Helena Christense.
So how does it work? The theory is that the shock of cold, particularly on the face, prompts a fight or flight response in the body. The more bodies learn to cope with this the less inflammation there is. Decreased bodily inflammation protects and strengthens the immune system.
The evidence points to consistent repetition of cold water immersion giving the best health benefits. There is also much science around nature being a mood booster and the connection with meeting people (as most people swim in wild public spaces).
The Who’s Roger Daltrey dug has also been building lakes at his 400-acre estate, Holmshurst Manor, in East Sussex, where he opened four lakes as Lakedown Trout Fishery, despite residents ‘concerns’ that the designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty near Heathfield would see a loss of privacy.