If there’s one thing that’s getting us through these cold winter months, it’s the prospect of getting back into the sea… or even better, getting back into the sea to swim with our boys.
In the warmer months we often go for a swim either down in the bay at the bottom of the garden or we take a walk (in our wetsuits!) over to one of the peninsulas across from the house and swim off the rocks there.
Before we came to live in Dumfries and Galloway we used to go twice weekly to swim in Box End Park. This involved an early morning, ten mile trip to the wake boarding lake in Bedford. Open water swimming was a big part of our lives so, as you can imagine, having the sea at the bottom of the garden felt like the answer to all our prayers.
But, ironically, due to the massively busy life we found ourselves leading –running our holiday let business – and looking after two large dogs, the renovations, the garden and a full time job, we found we weren’t swimming as much as we had when there was a twenty mile round trip involved!
Over the last couple of years we’ve started to rectify that and this year, a few of my girlfriends in the area have shown interest in a ladies ‘weekly dip’ down in the bay! There’s now lots of data out there to show that open water swimming (or even just getting in for a dip!) when approached safely and steadily, offers many physical and psychological benefits and might even ward off dementia. Add this to the amazing scenery and the camaraderie on offer and hopefully these ladies will be addicted enough to keep going right through the winter (well except the months where the sea freezes as it did this January!!)
We swim with our dogs from time to time (I should say ‘dog’ – singular – we have the only Labrador who doesn’t like the water to get above his tummy!!!) and it’s a joy like no other to pootle along in the shallows next to your pooch. Our boy tries to keep up with us, so we got him a buoyancy jacket in the end to make sure he doesn’t get over tired.
So, if you’re taking a trip to this area, don’t forget your wet-suit or, if you’re feeling really brave, your swim-suit. There’s lots of places to take a dip along this stretch of the ‘Scottish Riviera’, but always check the tide-times and look up the safest ways to approach this sport if you haven’t done it before or need a reminder. (Click on the embedded links for advice, the Outdoor Swimmer website has a good guide to how your body will react in certain temperatures too).
For most of the year I use my Orca 3.8 wetsuit which I have had for over seven years. I find it great for buoyancy (I can lay on top of the water and float around looking at the sky when I fancy a rest!) and it’s really warm. I’ve included a link to the upgraded model which I’ll have to dig deep for once my old one finally gives up the ghost.
The best part of the whole, open water swimming experience, is the coffee on the beach afterwards. Sitting, wrapped in a towel or even better, a dryrobe (if you haven’t got one of these and you’re into water sports, I highly recommend splashing out on one!) with the endorphin high of the cold water still rushing around your body, it is the best feeling ever!
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