Down To The River - Wales Part II + Wild Swimming Tips
Currently sitting in a lovely cafe in South-East London listening to "Down To The River To Pray" by Alison Krauss, because inspiration doesn't always come easy, so Alison's giving me a hand!
Let's go back to a couple of months ago, shall we? I know this probably should have been blogged about donkey's years ago when the weather was not glacial and was actually appropriate for wild swimming... but let me tell you one thing - wild swimming never stops... I know people who go swimming every single morning at Hampstead Ponds, rain or shine, ice in the water or not, they go every morning without a fail.
I am not a fanatic like they are, but I admire the will-power and sheer determination that it takes to break the ice and get into freezing cold water (wetsuit on of course). So this blog post could potentially still be seasonal...?
Let's dive in! (OH YEAH)
You probably recall this post and this one too, all about our wonderful Wales trip? Well, this is actually day two, just after we left the beautiful slate cabin, we packed our bags and jumped into the car driving towards the Snowdon peaks.
Right at the bottom of the trail called 'Watkin Path' - we parked our car, stuffed our backpacks with fresh water, snacks, our swimsuits and a towel. We were determined to go swimming!
After about a half hour walk up the hill, through the forest, over little bridges, we arrived at this wonderful place. The original swimming spot is much further up, but we could see a lot of people up there (it was a hot day over a weekend!) so we decided to get off the trail and down to the river to find our own little spot, and we did! Right under a tree, we found a dip deep enough for us to submerge ourselves.
For the die-hard wild swimmers out there, yes this might not be considered 'swimming' but in my eyes, if you get yourself fully submerged, in the water, out in the wild.. then it should be called wild swimming!
There are many river spots and I think lakes (?) up the path which would be amazing to swim in, and I am looking forward to coming back next summer and maybe camp somewhere or perhaps rent a tiny little cabin again!
The water was definitely below 15 degrees Celsius, coming down from that mountain, it was so cold it hurt your ankles when you first got in, but after a few minutes of acclimatizing we were able to go all in...
Not without making all sorts of faces, and screaming "AHHH IT'S COLD" to the top of my lungs!!
The water is so beautifully clear and blue, just that alone makes me want to jump in! I am a Pisces, so any body of water just makes me want to get in..! After laughing getting in and out, taking photos and videos (I am putting together a little vlog from our time there, I took so many clips that I think it would be a shame if I didn't do anything with it! but it might take me months to do.. haha so hang in there!) we finally got out when our lips were turning blue and we were shivering.
We warmed up in the sun, hid under our towels to get our cold swimsuits off (there were occasional passers-by on the top of the hill..!) by that point the snacks had disappeared, the water was getting sparse so we decided to walk back down the hill.
That feeling after a cold swim of wrapping yourself up in a chunky knit, and cozying back into the warm car to drive to the nearest cup of tea. There aren't many feelings like this one.
The experience in itself, that rush of adrenaline, being surrounded by nature, not much beats it, but that feeling afterward is almost as good!
Now I cannot wait for next summer again - because if you hadn't guessed already, I love wild swimming.. but I don't love getting in my swimsuit in glacial temperates, so I am taking a break until everything warms up again!
My Wild Swimming Tips
- Never swim alone (especially if you don't know the area) always go as a group, safety first!
- Even in the summer, most wild swimming spots, especially in the mountain areas will have cold water. Acclimatize yourself slowly.
- If you're in a lake or large body of water, don't go too far from the bank.
- Never swim in urban rivers or canals (these will most likely always be highly polluted) don't swim in stagnant water either, fresh clean and clear water always.
- Never jump into the water without having checked the depth/safety beforehand
- Make sure you know how to get out, before going in (obvious, but worth stating!)
- Wear waterproof shoes or sandals if possible.
- Don't get too cold, if your lips are turning blue, and you're shivering. Get out and warm up!
- Always bring fresh water and snacks! Ideally a thermos with hot tea too, and something warm to wrap up in after your swim.
- HAVE FUN!!