Why go for a swim in a pool full of chemicals when you could go for a dip amongst some of the most beautiful and secluded parts of the UK? Wild swimming has seen a huge increase in popularity in recent years, with a number of specialist guide books sharing the secrets of the best spots to visit. Here’s a tips on how to start switching your leisure centres for lakes and enjoying a swim in the beautiful outdoors.
Is it safe?
Wild swimming can be very safe as long as you remain aware of the conditions of the water and your surroundings. Quarries and rivers can be home to hidden dangers, so obey any signs that may be placed by the water’s edge, and don’t take unnecessary risks, such as diving into questionably shallow water. The solitary nature of wild swimming can be one of its biggest appeals, but if you’re planning on going for a dip alone, make sure somebody knows where you are. Many wild swimming spots are calm and tranquil, making them ideal swimming spots, but remember that nature can be unpredictable, so it always pays to be aware.
What should I bring?
You might stumble upon a great wild swimming spot whilst out on a walk, or your whole day may be planned around hunting down a new swimming location, but whether spontaneous or planned, it can help to have a few basic pieces of kit with you:
Swimming trunks/bathing suit (optional if you’re secluded enough!)
Sandals, flip flops or footwear suitable for water use, very useful for protecting against sharp rocks
A towel for drying off, or for lying on afterwards
Insect repellant- water sources can attract millions of midges, especially on hot summer evenings
Plastic bags- for carrying any wet kit home with you
Will it be cold?
The cold can be one of the main factors which puts people off wild swimming, but a lake or river is often far warmer than a dip in the sea in the UK. Throughout the year, temperatures of outdoor waters often lie between 12C-17C, although a shallow lake in direct sunlight can warm up to beyond 20C. Regardless of water temperature, your body temperature is mostly effected by activity. A long hike during the height of summer will raise your heartbeat and temperature, making it much easier to throw yourself into a cold lake at the end of it all. If you’re not feeling as sweaty, however, try doing something else to raise your heartbeat. The more you swim and move around in the water, the easier it will be to cope with the cooler temperature and the sooner you’ll be too busy enjoying yourself to notice it at all.
Finding swimming spots
Many guide books to wild swimming are now available, showing you how to access some of the best wild swimming spots available. Try the official wild swimming guide book to help you find your nearest venue for a swim, it might be closer than you think.
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