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Cambridge students protest as meadow closed to stop dangerous behaviour

cambridge university skinny dipping

King’s College has closed Grantchester Meadows after an increase in anti-social behaviour (Picture: Bav Media/Getty Images)

Skinny-dipping Cambridge students are protesting after a spot where they have punted, partied and frolicked naked for decades was closed.

Grantchester Meadows — including Byron’s Pool, named after the 19th century poet who swam there — was where poet Rupert Brooke and writer Virginia Woolf bathed nude in the early 1900s.

Owner King’s College has now introduced a ban to prevent dangerous and anti-social behaviour at the spot on the River Cam.

It comes after nearby roads and drives have been blocked and residents abused.

A statement explained the reasoning behind the move, reading: ‘Grantchester Meadows has become a frequent site for large gatherings of individuals entering the River Cam under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, and subsequently requiring emergency medical assistance.’

Within 24 hours of a notice going up, 8,000 had signed a protest petition.

Organiser Camila Isley called the meadows ‘an asset of community value for over 500 years’.

She added: ‘This will prevent people swimming or pulling up to the meadows in a canoe, punt or similar vessel. Closing this stretch will shut down traditions dear to the people of Cambridge.’

People swimming in the River Cam by Grantchester Meadows in Cambridgeshire (Picture: Bav Media)

Writer and Emmanuel College fellow Robert Macfarlane — a patron of the Outdoor Swimming Society — tweeted: ‘Terrible decision.

‘The river here has been used by the community for centuries. There has to be a better solution.’

Dr Veronika Dobler added: ‘Beautiful, famous Grantchester Meadows has been an important free recreational resource… especially in the pandemic.’

Student Hannah Huang said: ‘I wonder if they could bring it back with limitations on swimming/barbecue hours.’

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