Original article from Kent Live
At long last summer has finally arrived.
After a glorious Bank Holiday weekend, the much-anticipated heatwave has simmered along with temperatures up past 25C.
Yesterday (June 2), we were even treated to the hottest day of the year.
But with this hot weather came the need to cool off and what better place to visit than the glistening blue Leybourne Lakes.
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The country park is a gorgeous 230-acre spot near Snodland that welcomes an influx of visitors from far and wide.
Bursting with wildlife, the peaceful setting attracts water sports enthusiasts, dog walkers and bird watchers alike, and is known for its wild swimming.
So, with much to look forward to, I took a trip to Leybourne Lakes to see first-hand what it was really like.
Driving into Leybourne Lakes, my first sight was of the huge and convenient car park that allowed visitors to park up for only £1.40 for the whole day – what a bargain.
Shielding my eyes from the harsh sun, I walked in 25C heat down the lane that pointed to the lakes.
It seemed like I wasn't the only one hoping to see the lake in all its glory, as multiple cars were also parking up with big families and friends alike, who made their way down the same path.
As I walked further along, I came to a big clearing where wooden tables and parasols lined along the edge of the lake, and just opposite a delicious-looking cafe.
I mean, it really was the perfect spot to pull up a chair, sip on a fruit-flavored slushy and take in the magnificent surroundings.
Especially, those beautiful blue houses that were dotted across the other end of the lake – what a dream.
After spending a few minutes admiring the view, I wanted to look for the Water Sports Centre to speak to someone about going in for a dip.
At this point, the glorious weather, in all its majesty, was just a little too hot.
Like all Brits, despite us begging for warmer weather for months on end, we still complain about the heat in the most British manner.
So, off I journeyed down a wide path around the stunning lakes.
Instantly, I wondered how I had I never been here before.
The rolling mounds of bright green grass and pretty white daisies, made for a picture-perfect sight.
Its Disney-like setting seemed almost too good to be true, with everything around me glowing.
Laying in the fresh grass, many groups of young teens picked a brilliant spot to bathe in the sun and have a laugh with one another.
But I wasn't laughing when I came across several gates at the edge of the lake, that closed off the entrance for swimmers.
My hunt to dip my toes in the blue Leybourne Lake
All along the lake were little docks and banks that were closed off to visitors, with signs reading "no unapproved swimming".
Well, how on earth could I take a cooling dip in the water without being barred?
I faced the same signs when I came across a darling little pond, on the left-hand side of the main lake, with the title "Dipping Pond".
So, I thought this must be the place where I need to be, with a title like the "Dipping Pond".
But it seemed that I was not the only one looking for a quick dip to cool off, as a group of teenagers made the rounds to try and get past the gated off areas to the lake.
To the dismay of the country park marshals, the group of young teens were trying their best to sneak into the water without being caught.
Unlucky for them, the two marshals kept a close eye on them and even said that they needed to leave for trying to break the rules.
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Alas, it appears this park is a no go zone for swimmers, so I thought to flag down an expert to enquire about my disappointment.
Looking around for help, I waved down a park ranger who was rescuing the biggest and fluffiest dog I've ever seen, whose owner had lost him.
Walking alongside her, I enquired about the gates and how I could dip my toes in the glimmering lakes.
Sadly, however, I learned swimming will only be permitted once you have completed an induction with the Water Sports Centre at the entrance of the park.
Despite my disappointment, it seemed fair enough and a great way to keep swimmers safe in this sort of environment.
Oh, also something to note- to my surprise- according to a kind gentleman at the Water Sports Centre, whom I visited shortly after my talk with the Ranger, the Dipping Pond isn't actually for dipping.
The Dipping Pond isn't for dipping, after all.
It'll cost you £30 for the induction lesson, where the people of the sports centre will swim with you into the lake, to make sure you can keep yourself safe.
It will then cost you just £6 to swim in the lake and I believe that is for all year round.
Leaving the Leybourne Lakes, sweating from the sun and a little downhearted, I must say that despite not being able to cool off in the lakes, it was a wonderful trip and a incredible display of mother nature.