Whilst wild swimming has seen a huge increase in popularity in recent years, we favour the more gentle side of things and spend most of our time wild dipping instead. Or as we like to call it “Wildish swimming”.
Unlike wild swimming, you don't need to be an experienced swimmer to enjoy the tranquillity of the small tucked-away pools that we spend our time exploring.
Wildish swimming typically involves a beautiful walk-in with friends, followed by a quick dip in a stunning pool and finishes with a coffee on the river bank.
In this blog, we are going to share our tips and tricks for wildish swimming.
The benefits of being in cold water
For us, wildish swimming feels a bit like hitting the refresh button. It washes our worries away and leaves us feeling both relaxed and full of energy. We often go for a dip at the start of the day, and every day we do it, we feel much better than when we don’t.
Physical Rejuvenation: Dipping into cold water stimulates the release of endorphins and adrenaline, improving blood circulation, boosting the immune system, and enhancing metabolic rate. Regular cold water dips can also contribute to weight loss and muscle toning.
Mental Well-being: The shock of cold water acts as a natural stress reliever, clearing the mind and improving overall mood. Cold water dipping has been associated with reduced anxiety and depression, offering a sense of calm and contentment. It's an opportunity to escape the demands of daily life and reconnect with your inner self.
What we take wildish swimming:
- Towel or poncho: A quick-drying towel/poncho is essential for keeping dry and comfortable during your wild dipping adventures.
- Puffer change robe: Essential in winter and very desirable in summer, it makes the experience a lot more enjoyable. We use one from Vivida.
- Bag: You need something to carry your kit and keep your clothes clean and dry whilst you’re in the water. On shorter walks in we use our Pateley Tote but if there is going to be a bit more of a walk to get to the spot, we will take a Gouthwaite 18-23L.
Neoprene booties: These make a huge difference to comfort levels when wild dipping. Nell’s feet get particularly cold and these have made all the difference! These ones from Patagonia are great.
How to find wildish swimming spots
Unlike places for wild swimming, spots for wild dipping are in abundance. After all, you don’t need very much space to dip in a pool.
More often than not, if you are planning a walk and there is a small stream or river somewhere along it, then there will likely be a spot for a dip. Be sensible with it, don’t cross private land to access anything, we typically find spots that run alongside a footpath.
Take it slow
When we first started wild dipping we would only go in for a few seconds. We started doing it consistently for the first time in January so both the water and the air were freezing, so just getting out of the house and into the river was an achievement. The more we did it, the longer we could comfortably stay in the water. Now we often stay in the water for 3-5 minutes, but there is no way we could have done that at the start.
We’d recommend starting at 10 seconds and adding an extra 10 seconds each day. You will be surprised how quickly you get used to it.
Get warm fast
When you get out of the water it’s important that you warm up as quickly as possible. In the summer this is a little easier, but in the colder months, we would never be without our vivida puffer change robes and a cup of coffee.
Stay safe and leave no trace
Cold water can be dangerous and should always be respected. Here are some essential guidelines to keep in mind when wild dipping.
- Assess the Conditions: Before taking the plunge, assess the water and weather conditions. Look out for strong currents, underwater hazards, sudden weather changes that could pose a risk, and keep an eye out for pollution and blue-green algae. Avoid swimming alone, especially in remote locations, and inform someone about your plans and expected return time.
- Know Your Limits: Be honest about your swimming abilities and never venture into waters that exceed your skill level. Cold water can affect your strength and endurance, so ensure you are confident in your abilities to navigate and stay afloat in challenging conditions.
- Dress Appropriately: Dress for the conditions by wearing suitable swimwear or a wetsuit to protect against cold water. Additionally, consider wearing appropriate footwear to protect your feet from sharp rocks or other underwater hazards.
- Enter the Water Gradually: Allow your body to acclimate to the temperature by entering the water gradually. Avoid diving or jumping in from heights unless you are certain of the depth and absence of obstacles beneath the surface.
- Be Aware of Hypothermia: Cold water can quickly lead to hypothermia, even in warmer months. Keep an eye out for signs of shivering, numbness, or difficulty staying afloat. If you or anyone in your group experiences these symptoms, exit the water immediately and seek warmth.
- Respect Nature and Wildlife: Wild dipping often takes us into the natural habitats of wildlife. Observe from a distance and avoid disturbing or approaching animals. Remember, we are guests in their environment.
- Leave No Trace: Preserve the beauty of these pristine locations by practising "Leave No Trace" principles. Carry out any litter or waste, and avoid introducing chemicals or pollutants into the water.
You can learn more about staying safe whilst wild dipping here.
Wildish swimming allows you to experience the serenity and therapeutic benefits of cold water in an accessible manner, regardless of your swimming skills. It helps you uncover hidden gems in remote locations and allows you to experience those places in a way many others don’t.
Sometimes the most incredible adventures can be found in the simplest moments and the smallest pools.
Oz and Nell