For this blog I have been asked to write about my favourite wild swimming spots in Scotland. I know ‘wild swimming’ has had a lot of press recently with a list of positive health aspects and how there are now lots of ‘wild swimming’ groups to join which is all wonderful.
So here are my top five spots in Scotland;
1 Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye
This pool is especially magical and filled with legends but you will have to go very early in the morning or in the middle of the night as it is a well beaten track for people to walk. It is at the foot of the Black Cuillins, near Glenbrittle – crystal clear waters with glinting stones at the bottom – it is such fun to swim under the arch – take goggles for this pool as it is as magical under the water as it is above.
2 Linn of Tummel, Perthshire
I love this spot.
Travelling on the A9, there is a small turn off, the B846 which continues along the wild shores of Tummel and Rannoch lochs. There is the possibility for a longer swim here – I have always trained a Labrador for wild swimming – I am onto the third in line that accompanies me for longer swims (I don’t take him into the waterfalls as it can be too dangerous for dogs), they all swim next to me and should I ever get cramp, I can hold onto their backs and they have enough power to pull me along – luckily enough I have never had to resort to this but important if one day I do. The training process is painful, as their claws have a habit of hitting my back until they get the hang of where to swim which is next to me and not on me!!! )
3 Allt Coire Roill – Loch Torridon
This waterfall is not for the faint hearted, it is a very steep climb down with a huge torrent/volume that comes down from a narrow flute, so the power is intense and to get behind the fall you have to allow the water to fall on top of you, forcing you under to re-emerge behind the sheet. It is a spectacular spot and truly awe inspiring if not a little nerve racking - only for the more experienced.
4 Stichill Linnn Near Kelso
A beautiful hidden little gem, you will hear it before you see it - tucked away out of sight, unheralded, unsignposted, its astonishing beauty unsung.
5 Glen Etive Pools, Right Angle Falls, Glencoe
If you take the beautiful A82 road north there is a small single track road that follows the River Etive – there are literally hundreds of places to stop and swim here, or go wild camping (out of season is best as it can get busy in the summer, my favourite time is early May or late September) - there is a lovely waterfall here called Right Angle but really, stop anywhere here - you will not be disappointed.
I have been ‘wild swimming’ for as long as I can remember, swimming with my late father who would blackmail me to follow him into the cold waters for a reward of sweets afterwards – always worked, but actually I loved the experience and the fact I got a reward of some penny chews was a bonus!
For me ‘wild swimming’ is a lot more than just feeling the cold waters and the benefits this gives – it is all about communing with nature, a true bond that enlivens the spirit, feeds the soul and allows one to perceive the magic of the universe. Going in solitude is best for that connection and especially when there is no wet suit, swimming trunks or any clothing – these objects only get in the way, act as blockers – this is about entering the sacred waters and being in tune with all of your surroundings.
I especially love entering waterfalls, there is an energy and power that is deeply moving, where you have to have an absolute respect. I have travelled the whole of the UK searching for wild swimming holes, waterfalls, rivers, coastal caves and hope to spend the rest of my life always looking. You just need to ask any of my children how obsessed I am – I have even taken the oldest three for a ‘wild swimming’ weeks holiday in Scotland from Lewis, Skye to wherever we could find the best swims – averaging 2 to 3 swims a day! My youngest son and I started a book on wild swimming waterfalls and rated them by; human access, dog access, water sheet (that is how good/possible is it to get behind the waterfall to look through the downpour), height of falls, pool depth, wilderness, changing facilities and most predominant herb (there is always one plant at any waterfall that catches my eye – in fact I would love to write a book about the waterfalls and then write about the plant that sings to me most by the fall).
Note: Wild swimming is a joy and if, like me, you decide to go on your own please take care – always be aware of your environment, limitations and capabilities.