If you do one thing this week
GO WILD SWIMMING
SO, YOU know the remit: I recommend something that you should do this week. You dutifully do it – or more likely roll your eyes and think: “What kind of fool does she take me for?”
If the latter response is most familiar to you, then today’s offering is going to take the proverbial biscuit: I’m going to encourage you to try wild swimming.
Bear with me. Yes, when I say wild swimming I mean throwing yourself into the nearest (safe) body of water in the great outdoors, not the heated swimming pool at your health club. But trust me, this outdoor pursuit has a long and illustrious history. And it’s fun. The Romans did it near Hadrian’s Wall; Wordsworth and Coleridge larked in the mountain pools of the Lake District while cogitating on the prettiness of daffodils.
The father of modern-day wild swimming, though, is the late writer and environmentalist Roger Deakin, who died in 2006. Author of Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey Through Britain, Deakin swam the length and breadth of the land through rivers, under waterfalls and even in castle moats. His journey echoes that of the 1968 film The Swimmer, starring Burt Lancaster, which charts the progress of Neddy Merrill as he front-crawls his way through his neighbours’ swimming pools in an attempt to swim homewards across the California valley where he lives.
If you’re wondering why I urge you to take up such a chilly pursuit so early in the year, it’s because next week sees the publication of a new guide to wild swimming. Daniel Start’s book Wild Swimming shows you exactly where to sample the UK’s natural watery delights.
There are plenty of choices throughout Scotland. Try Sheriffmuir Paradise Pools near Dunblane, where you’ll find one of the biggest plunge pools in the UK – there’s a rock slide that you can hurtle down, thus eliminating the excruciating inch-by-inch entry into the chilly water.
Or, if you fancy something more rural, how about the Faerie Pools of Glen Brittle on Skye? Here you’ll find deep pools and falls with water that’s clean and “tinged with pink and blue hues”. I suspect my legs might be the same colour, but there is the promise of an underwater arch to swim through.
According to Start, the trick to coping with the chill is to arrive at your chosen pool hot and sweaty, so that you just can’t resist stripping off and diving in. He adds that it will take “a few minutes before the cold feeling goes away” so the trick is to persevere.
And if that doesn’t convince you, he also offers tips on how to build a sauna so you really can warm up.
• Wild Swimming: 150 Hidden Dips in the Rivers, Lakes and Waterfalls of Britain by Daniel Start is published on Monday by Punk Publishing, 14.95. Log on to www.wildswimming.co.uk for more information.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
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