A Swim in the Sea

27 July 2017

wild swimming

Photo Credit: Calum Maclean

There has been a resurgence of interest in wild swimming of late. It’s easy to see why Scotland has become such a prime destination for this trend as it is naturally blessed with a scenic shoreline and an abundance of lochs, rivers and pools. You never have to travel too far to find a quiet spot for a quick dip and with the right preparation and equipment you can enjoy a swim at any time of year. Here are a few of our favourite spots for sea swimming (look out for another blog later in the year for our top lochs). There is something special about swimming in the sea, feeling the surf gently break over you as you stare out over the horizon. Its mentally refreshing as well as a physical workout.

Calum Maclean has, single handed, done more to promote wild swimming in Scotland than anyone. Starting off with uploading videos to YouTube, this native Gaelic speaker from Skye has become an unlikely cult hero, with his own series on BBC Alba extolling the virtues of exploring the natural environment through swimming. One of his top spots are the Slate Islands This former mining area has a rugged coastline where a number of slate quarries have filled with seawater making for a unique swimming experience. If you are brave enough, there are a number of spots where the water is deep and you can dive in safely then swim around the coast and take in this poignant reminder of the industrial heritage of this once bustling region. Ardlarach Lodge looks down to the sound of Luing and is a luxury retreat but still easily accessible. (Calum swam to the island, we would recommend taking the ferry)

The beaches of the north east coast are often overlooked in favour of their counterparts on the west and that is a shame as they have a lot to offer. Quiet, peaceful and perfect for long walks, the coastline up here also offers another unique swimming opportunity. It is home to one of the last official nudist beaches in the country. Once common the practice has all but died out in Scotland but, due to the enthusiasm of the owners of the caravan park in Brora, the tradition lives on.  The beach here is secluded and well signposted so you can indulge without worrying about offending passers-by. Farthingworth is a refurbished traditional croft house just south of here which has amazing panoramic views across loch fleet and which is also close by to the golden sands of Dornoch beach, a more traditional spot for a dip.

White sands and sheltered seas make Achmelvich one of the best beach swimming areas in the country. It’s also featured on the Scottish snorkel trail which means it has a wide variety of things to spot just under the surface of the water so remember to bring your goggles. The further out you swim the better the views are as you look back to shore, in particular the majestic profile of Suilven towering over everything else on the horizon. Culkein Lodge sits on the edge of the sea in a quiet, rocky bay just further up the coast. It’s perfectly located for a quick splash and dash before breakfast, where even in less than ideal conditions you can exit the water and be in a warm shower within a matter of seconds.

The beach at St Andrews achieved worldwide fame when it featured in the Oscar winning film Chariots of Fire. The iconic scene of the main character running across the beach in slow motion is fun to recreate but it would be a shame not to sample the delights of the water when you are here.  Lifeguards patrol the beach during the peak season, making it a safe family spot perfect for introducing the little ones to the delights of the water. Balfour House is walking distance away, in fact all the delights of St Andrews are accessible on foot making it a fantastic place for a relaxing car free holiday. The Fife Coastal path goes right through the town, follow it along the coast if you want to find loads more secluded inlets, coves and pools where you can take the plunge.