The beauty of England’s unique water sources and how you can experience one yourself, with us next year

Chalk streams are a unique and rare type of river, and one that we’re lucky to have an abundance of in the UK. There are only around 200 chalk streams in the world, and a whopping 85 per cent of those are located in the South and East of England. But why are chalk streams so clean?

The venue for our upcoming retreat, West Lexham, is home to one of these unique and vital chalk streams. And it’s apparently so clean you can drink straight from it. So we thought we’d explore exactly what they are, and why they’re such an important part of our national landscape.

What makes chalk streams different? 

First and foremost, chalk streams are natural sources of clean water. Impressively, they can remain at a fairly constant temperature all year round, attributed to their unique supply system. 

The water supply of chalk streams comes from underground chalk aquifers and springs. The chalk absorbs rainfall through cracks; as it builds, this water seeps out and feeds the local river systems with clear, drinkable water. 

The beauty of the water filtering through chalk is that it has been fortified with dissolved minerals and nutrients. These water sources are used by plenty of wild animals, and are home to a unique collection of fauna, due to the calcium rich water. 

Chalk streams have been a vital source of water for towns, cities, and farming through British history, and continue to do so. The worry is that as pressure on our water sources builds, these streams will run dry and may not recover.

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Protecting the chalk streams

Sadly, many of our rivers in the UK are in poor condition. Overdrawing water in the summer leaves these rivers dry until winter sets in, and sections can regularly stop flowing during the hotter periods. Serving as a direct source of drinking water in many regions of the south, these dry periods impact local communities and the wildlife that relies on them.

Thankfully, the government’s recent amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill has included chalk streams into environmental protection and natural environment. This inclusion requires chalk streams to be considered in setting the outcomes of future environmental frameworks, so we, and nature, can continue to enjoy their natural benefits. 

Lake with people swimming in it. Chalk streams clean enough to drink from at West Lexham join us next year

Go wild swimming in chalk stream fed lake next year at West Lexham (Image: West Lexham)

Experience a chalk stream for yourself

You can join us on our Summer Solstice retreat in 2024, and have the chance to experience a chalk stream-fed lake. 

Our retreat location for the Midsummer Solstice break is at West Lexham, a stunning rural venue driven by sustainability. Their chalk stream-fed water sources are a key player in supporting their sustainable paradise. Water across the site is sourced directly from the stream, and if you take the plunge and go wild swimming (highly recommended) in their lake, you’ll be immersed in water from the chalk aquifer. You can even drink directly from the lake itself! 

Experience the chalk stream lake, and book your place on the Midsummer Night’s Dream Solstice Retreat. 19th – 21st June 2024