Wild swimming with a backpack? Welcome to cross country swimming

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With the help of some innovative kit, these adventurers have easily negotiate both land and waterways

The public footpath lay barely 20 metres from where I stood, promising a stroll along the river, passing fields and through woodland, well away from any road. Yet there was something in my way blocking access to it. The very river it meanders alongside – the Thames – flowed between me and this legally designated right of way.

I checked my Ordnance Survey map of this part of Berkshire to see how to reach the path, but there was no other footpath that would legally lead me to the island on which it sat (a bridge I spotted was not a right of way, with a closed gate). This was a permitted pathway that no one could actually access, unless they had a boat.

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