“Look, look, those people are swimming!”
Do you like swimming? I’m fairly indifferent about indoor swimming, the pool is usually too hot or too cold, other people who can’t follow lane etiquette annoy me and I find that I get bored fairly quickly.
However I have recently discovered another way – swimming outdoors. I’m not talking wetsuits, Vaseline and those pesky triathlons I’m talking wild swimming, that is to say swimming in something that isn’t specifically made for swimming.
I’d been meaning to give it a go for a while and then lo and behold, like buses, two opportunities came along in quick succession.
Things you can swim in…
Just out of Bristol handily placed on the Bristol-Bath cycle path are a few lovely meandering sections of the river Avon which are perfectly suited to a swim. A Sunday bike ride with the aim of a little river swim was an ideal introduction. Just past Warmley but just before the Bird in the Hand pub (GR: 682688) there is a little turn off just before a railway bridge which leads down to a picnic area next to the river. There is easy entry from a jetty where some unsuspecting narrow boats were moored, exit is muddy but easy just downstream and around the corner from the entry.
The river was at an expected river temperature but after a little bit of upstream swimming became refreshing and enjoyable. The shouts of people up on the bridge were a joy to hear; their calls made us feel like adventure pioneers and I loved that from just switching our mindset slightly we were having an experience that the onlookers would never have associated with that stretch of river.
After my first successful foray into wild swimming I couldn’t wait to go again. After attending a wedding In Dorset it seemed rude not to nip to the seaside for a quick dip before driving home. Lulworth Cove provided the perfect setting; a lovely pebbled cove which looked almost Caribbean at times on a sunny Sunday. Taking a tiny detour and spending 20 minutes floating around in the cove was one of many highlights of the weekend. Dorset was a delight, it’s an area that I really haven’t spent any time in but after my first visit this weekend I can’t wait to go back.
Top tips for wild swimming
- Check out wildswimming.co.uk – a good resource for safety tips and location suggestions
- Plan a swim into your day – look for opportunities whenever you’re out and about
- Put your swimwear on before you leave for your day out – minimised faff opportunities means you are much more likely to go through with it!
- Yes it will be cold but who cares… Rash vests can work wonders
- Have a plan on hand to warm up afterwards – towels, jumpers and a little flask of something
- Don’t forget some dry underwear!