Norfolk Slow Swim and Picnic

Dilham Hall Canoe Hire, Tonnage Bridge
Norfolk. NR28 9PW

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Saturday 27th July 2024
1.3km Social River Swim and Picnic (Wave 4 0.5km)
Entry £20.00 (under 16 £15.00)
The picnic’s FREE (bring your own picnic), bring cake to share!.

Click here to enter

The Norfolk Slow Swim Picnic isn’t a race. It’s a social swim and a picnic at the historic Dilham Canal in Norfolk. We get to swim in the private waterway running through the estate and picnic right by the water.
The Norfolk Slow Swim and Picnic 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.

We campaign for clean rivers and lakes. Petitioning to have popular local areas designated as bathing quality. In the meantime, we test the water purity ourselves to ensure the safety of our events.

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 one: Seriously Need More Cake (Known as Serious), start at 10.30am. Choose this wave if you would like to actually race, but be prepared for a bit of a scrum in the narrow sections.
Wave two: Relaxed ’cause we know where the cake is hidden (Known as Relaxed). Steady pace – no rush.
Wave three
: Enjoying the Journey (Known as Enjoying it). Sculling along, maybe with a bit of paddling, smiling and chatting.
Wave four: Pooh Sticks. 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.
BUT – please make sure it’s both safe (won’t go down and drown you) and won’t damage the river or river banks. We are here to help look after the river!
Start times subject to change nearer the day.

Dilham Hall Canoe Hire is situated in the northern part of the Norfolk Broads. 95 acres of the farm is a Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Five different native British deer species make their home in and around the reserve, as well as otters, kingfishers and swans. There was even a recent visit from a seal that had got slightly lost. Link to story

  1. Click the ‘Sign Up button’ to go through to Entry Central
  2. Fill in the details of each member of your group. Entry costs £20.00, (£15.00 under 16s), and which wave they would like to be in.
  3. Decide whether you would like an event patch for your towel or robe. Cost £6
    You can pay by any type of payment card using the checkout.

Click here to enter

Norfolk Slow Swim and Picnic briefing notes:

Getting there

By Rail

You can travel to either Norwich or North Walsham Railway Stations on Greater Anglia. Taxis or buses are then available to finish the journey to Dilham Hall.

By Bus

Buses are available stopping at the village of Dilham. The venue at Dilham Hall Canoe Hire is around 1.5 miles from the village centre.


We will be supplying bike racks for your bike at the venue. Bring a lock.


If you need to drive think about linking up with other swimmers through the swim Facebook group to share your journey.


The owners of Dilham Hall will be providing parking at the venue for £5 for the day. The drive in to the venue from the village is along a single track, one way, lane. So don’t rush. Take the time to enjoy the scenery.


Registration will be open from 9:30am and will be open all through to 11:30am. The list of entries will be laid out in alphabetical order. Find your name and check yourself in to the swim. Make sure you collect your wristband at this point.

Don’t rush there’s plenty of time. Aim to register no later than 10 minutes before your wave opens. Swimmers in each wave don’t have to start all at once. Waves start over a period of time.


Wave one, Serious. Start between 10:30am and 10:45am

Wave two, Relaxed. Start between 10:45am and 11:15am

Wave three, Enjoying it. Start between 11:15am and 11:30am

Wave four, Pooh Sticks. Start between 11:30am and 12noon.

The Swim

The swim route is from the picnic area 650m upstream, to a turnaround point and then back downstream to the start.

The Pooh Sticks participants with inflatables will start from the picnic field and paddle up to the bridge and then back down to the picnic field.

There will be lifeguards at regular intervals along the bank, who can assist you if you need help. Don’t be afraid to check in on your fellow swimmers if you feel they might need help or just to have a social chat.

There is a footpath that is accessible all along the route if you would like friends and family to walk along with you.

After you leave the river please remember to go back to the registration and sign out, so we know not to start looking for you afterwards.

No new swimmers can be entered on the day. You must have entered online beforehand. It’s still not too late though for your extra friends to join you in the Swim. Point them at this link 

The picnic is open to everyone to come along and support you.

Towel/Robe patches 

If you have pre-ordered a robe patch, they will be available to collect from the gazebo next to the registration gazebo in the picnic field.

If you forget to collect it on the day let us know and I’ll arrange to send it on to you, if you are able to cover the postage (it shouldn’t be much.)

Cake Sharing Table

The Norwich Slow Swim and Picnic is a very social affair and the swopping and sharing of cake and goodies is very much encouraged.

As the events have got larger each year, we have decided to help this along by providing cake (and goodies) sharing tables.

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 cake sharing gazebo.

Please cut it up into portion sizes to facilitate social distancing and we encourage you to add a note with your name if you are happy to share recipes via this page afterwards.

Cathie and I will get it started with some off-the-shelf cake but feel free to be enthusiastic with your donations and don’t be shy in digging into the goodies there.

Now eat cake, drink pop and bask in the glory of your achievement.

Contact: Stuart Hamilton: 07957844512,  or via the Facebook group