OVER the last 40 years I have enjoyed swimming in most of South Cerney’s Lakes (gravel pits). 

Now it has become more difficult, not because of my 91 years of age, but because most have been fenced off. 

Steel fences, barbed wire and security locks abound. One half expects to see a ‘H.M.Prison’ notice on the fence.

We used to be able to walk around, and swim in all the pits. Summer days saw many family picnic parties on the banks.

The enclosure of the lakes is anti-social. The villagers, surrounded by over a hundred lakes, have access to hardly any lakeside walks. I believe the enclosures have a dangerous edge. 

Our young people are seeking out distant, obscure and somewhat dangerous pits. Better to swim in our relatively safe local lake in sight of others. 

True there have been tragedies, some in allegedly supervised sites. I am unaware of any village swimmers coming to grief in our lakes. 

Now, water, as well as being a pleasure, can be dangerous. Sooner or later, one way or another, children will finish up in the lakes. 

I urge all parents to ensure their children can swim before they start primary school, and be at home in the water, before starting secondary school. The Cotswold Leisure Centre has excellent classes to do just this.

South Cerney