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The Fairy Pools and the Cuillin Ridge

What is your favourite place for a wild swim?

The LHH Guide to Wild Swimming

In that softly remembered pre Covid era, that now seems like a lifetime away, wild swimming was already enjoying a resurgence of popularity. When lockdown meant the imposition of travel restrictions and the closure of most indoor pools more and more people took to swimming in the great outdoors and have not looked back. So where would you choose to go and why? Here are a few of our favourite out of the way locations to experience the joys of a wild swim and a spectacular alternative for those who would just rather kick back on holiday.

Swimming in Scottish Lochs

If you were a keen swimmer and would normally go to the pool to swim laps then a loch is definitely the best place to head. Somewhere calm without waves or currents is best to practice your stroke or just let loose and swim for a decent distance. Free yourself from the worry of banging into anyone else or having to turn round every few minutes. Loch Rannoch is expansive and you could easily have miles of it to yourself.

It’s just a short walk from Comraich House to the waters edge where you can plunge into the gloriously fresh and calm waters. It’s unpolluted, clean and refreshing and makes for an intense start to any day. There are loads of watersports opportunities here and there is even a sandy beach, if you cycle to the north shore of the loch, but swimming without a wetsuit, where you can feel the tingle of the freshwater on your skin, is still the premier attraction of the area. The house is a luxurious and modern place to relax in after any activity. The surrounding area is an outdoor heaven and two dogs are welcome.

Sea Swimming in Scotland

For many, the sound of the sea is the biggest temptation. Waves gently lapping on a sandy shore are like invitations to strip off and run in. For atmosphere and sheer sensory pleasure, can anything in the natural world compare to wading in and feeling a wave crash over you? Blue skies, azure waters and deserted golden sands complete the picture postcard fantasy. For those holidaying in the Hebrides the fantasy is very much real.

South Uist has acres of beaches and miles of sheltered coastline and for those who want to truly immerse themselves in the islands then this is where to head and Beach View Cottage is just the place to stay. There are few locations with as much comfort and luxury, while still being an easy walk to the waters edge. The beaches here are brilliant for walking but even better for swimming, being shallow and without huge breakers. There are however a number of surf spots on the island for those who are seeking a bit more swell.

River and Stream Swimming in Scotland

Lochs and beaches are not the only places to wild swim in Scotland, some might argue that jumping in a river or stream offers the best experience. For me this is like a quick hit, there is nothing like the intense pleasure of launching yourself into the water to cool down on a hot day. It’s not so much about swimming but more about a reward after a long day out. A personal favourite is the Fairy Pools on Skye. Although many take the short walk from the road just to take a photo of these uniquely sculpted pools the river that they are a part of makes for an invigorating pick me up after you have been out in the hills. The waters flow from the top of the Cuillin Ridge and can have a bit of a nippy edge but it never feels overwhelming and this is more a venue for a splash and dash than an epic swim.

Saltwinds is a short drive from the carpark here and has a drying room (very useful if you decide to jump in with all your clothes on). It sleeps 8 and is a brilliant base for hillwalkers and those wanting to explore the island.

Swimming Not Your Thing?

It’s fair to say that despite its current in vogue status, wild swimming is not for everyone. It can be daunting at first for those not of a sporty disposition, alternatively those that lead busy lives sometimes want to kick back and relax on holiday instead of pushing themselves. What better way to do that than with a hot tub, possibly the exact opposite of a refreshing dip.

Ardchyle House near Killin has one in the garden with great views of the surrounding hills. It’s brilliant to wallow in with a drink regardless of what the weather is doing and particularly atmospheric on a winters evening as you catch the snow capped Perthshire peaks and if you are lucky the Northern Lights.