THEY have been casting off their inhibitions, dodging midges and defying Scotland’s capricious climate for half a century.
Now the country’s largest naturist organisation is to celebrate its 50th birthday by launching a naked cruise down the Forth.
Around 80 hardy nudists will sail under the Forth Rail Bridge next month as part of a maritime celebration of the clothes-free lifestyle.
The three-hour boat journey, which will feature bunting, a barbecue and live music, is the most northerly of a series of UK-wide events being organised by British Naturism, which was founded in 1964.
The body’s Scottish spokeswoman Juliette Tavendale hopes the cruise, which will take place on Saturday, 5 July, will attract new faces and help bring nudism into the mainstream.
She said: “We are keeping our fingers crossed for blue skies and warm weather, but the main thing is to have fun and celebrate 50 years of naturism in Scotland. We want to show that it is alive and well and does happen here.
“We will be naked after we leave Hawes Pier in South Queensferry, and the boat will have plenty of room, both indoors and out.”
“The cruise is open to all, and people who haven’t tried naturism before will be made very welcome.”
Tavendale is particularly keen to welcome more female recruits and feels saturation coverage of ultra-toned celebrities such as Rihanna and Scarlett Johansson has left many women feeling too worried to disrobe around others.
She said: “Young women, in particular, feel they have to look that way too. They are ending up feeling insecure and self-conscious about their bodies and their appearance.
“Because of body image problems, women are now less keen to join or attend naturist events. It’s a real shame because going naked feels very liberating.”
The resident of the Argyll resort of Dunoon, which recently hosted Scotland’s second annual clothes-free weekend, added: “The great thing about naturism is that people are not put under any pressure to look or behave in a certain way.
“We would love to attract more women and our message is: ‘It doesn’t matter what you look like. You are beautiful just as you are.’”
Sightseeing vessel the Forth Belle has been used for jazz, salsa dancing and disco-themed trips, but this is the first time it has been used to host a naked cruise.
A spokeswoman for Forth Boat Tours, which owns the boat, said it was a private booking and declined to comment further.
It is not an offence to be naked in public in Scotland, but those going without clothes can find themselves charged, if a police officer believes that a member of the public has been put in a state of fear or alarm, with breach of the peace.
That is the fate which befell Stephen Gough, better known as the Naked Rambler, who has been repeatedly arrested in Scotland.
Andrew Welch, British Naturism’s commercial manager, claimed attitudes towards nakedness were less permissive north of the Border.
He said: “Things have moved on a great deal in the past 50 years, but we still find ourselves facing an uphill struggle in Scotland, sadly.”