For my new series, I invite you to try…I want to highlight some activities which are great for your mind and body and good for your overall wellbeing. Why not give them a go. My first post in the series is about Wild Swimming.
You will have likely heard that during lockdown, wild swimming or open water swimming gained in popularity. If you can swim comfortably and are happy to go out into the sea, lakes or lochs then why not give it a try. If you haven’t done it before and are unsure about going it alone, then take a look in your local area as there are many established groups, who are happy to have you join them.
What are the benefits of wild swimming? Well it makes you feel good as it uplifts your mood. The cold water helps to release the happy hormones serotonin and dopamine giving you a natural high. This can help to reduced feelings of stress and anxiety.
It keeps you in the moment. You will be unlikely to think of anything else whilst swimming as you will be focusing on breathing, where you are going and the conditions.
It connects us with nature, we are submerged in it and surrounded by it. It’s great for you to be in the fresh air and cool waters. What can you feel, hear or see whilst in the water?
If you happen to live in Scotland or are coming here for your holidays and feel like braving the cold Scottish waters, I have highlighted seven places for you to get your swimsuit or wetsuit on and give it a go. Some places are quiet and off the beaten track, others are easy to access but likely to be busy.
Located at the North East shore of Loch Ness this beautiful small bay is easy to find and accessible from the car park. The water is cold, so you may wish to wear a wetsuit. Keep an eye out for Nessie. Locals swim here most Saturday mornings so feel free to join in. Once you have enjoyed your chilly dip, get dressed and head into the Dores Inn for a warming cuppa! Why not head up there for New Year and join the locals for the Dores Dook, if you’re brave enough.
Aberdour, Silver Sands Beach, Fife
Located in the East of Fife, Aberdour is a small village with a big beach! Easy accessible by car or train. It is a very popular beach when the weather is warm so aim for early or late in the day during peak season. It is a blue flag beach and lifeguards are on hand. The water will be cool – it is the Firth of the Forth – where several estuaries meet the North Sea. Be sure to check the tides. During the summer there may be jellyfish in the water so be aware.
Loch Muick, Aberdeenshire
A fresh water loch within the Balmoral Estate, at the foot of Lochnagar. It is 8 miles from Ballater. Car parking is available and it is a wee walk to the loch. The scenery is spectacular and it is a place to go to get away from it all. Whilst out swimming in the loch, you may spot some red deer on the hills. Kayakers and paddle boarders also frequent the water so you won’t be alone.
It may be a surprise that a city in Scotland can offer a lovely place to swim. Just a couple of miles from the city centre you will find this suburb. The beach is approximately two miles in length, it can be busy with locals and tourists, particularly during the summer months. The water is cool and is usually less than 10 degrees so it will take some time to get used to. This is a great place to start if you are new to wild swimming. There is a local group who meet regularly so get in touch if you are interested wildswimscotland.co.uk
Seacliffe Beach, by Tantallon, East Lothian
Near North Berwick is Seacliffe Beach. This beach is relatively quiet, attracting the likes of canoers, paddle boarders and wild swimmers. Although the water will be cool, you’ll soon forget about it as you take a look over at Bass Rock. You can’t miss it! It is a volcanic rock which stands over 100m above sea level and is home to a large population of Gannets.
Fairy Pools, Skye
This has to be seen to be believed. Located in Carbost, Glenbrittle on the Isle of Skye, water flows from the Cuillin mountains creating crystal clear icy water pools. These pools are fed by beautiful waterfalls. The waters are chilly so you might want to wear a wetsuit but on a hot day, you’ll happily reward yourself with a bracing dip! Suitable for all levels and a place you will never forget.
The Witches Cauldron Clunes
North of Fort William, you will find The Witches Cauldron or Eas Chia-aig as it’s known to the locals. Easily accessible from the main road, it is best to drive to this location. You can see the first waterfall from the roadside. There are three falls in total all with interesting rock formations. When you arrive you can hop out your car and take the stone steps down to the water and jump right in.
I would always recommend going with someone if you haven’t swam outdoors before, mainly for safety reasons but it also gives you someone to share the experience with. Always put your safety first please only swim in places where you feel confident to do so. Even the most experiences swimmer can get into danger so be careful.
Check tidal information if swimming in the sea and ask around for places to go and areas to avoid. As I said above have a look online for local wild swimming groups in your area. There are many groups on Facebook. You can meet like minded people with experience who love to swim outdoors.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week. Take care and look after you.