Swim Safari Holidays
As credits crunch, belts tighten, environmental and health concerns grow, there are few better ways to escape the costly headaches of the modern world than a holiday swimming and soaking in the crystal waters of Albion.
Relaxation through ActivityTo relieve the stresses and headaches of modern life and revive an ailing motor, many British holidaymakers like nothing better than relaxation through activity. For a bracing blast of exercise, adventure and country air, a weekend of biking, hiking, kayaking or climbing can work wonders. How about a weekend centred on that most ancient of relaxing activities – swimming?
Such a suggestion might be met with laughter or open-mouthed horror - a holiday spent swimming in the freezing cold waters of the British Isles, you must be mad?! But it’s a natural reaction of many who have grown up in a culture that regards swimming in rivers and lakes as dangerous, dirty or - considering we have perfectly functional indoor swimming pools – just plain unnecessary.
The Re-emergence of Wild SwimmingHowever, thanks to a widespread clean-up dating back to the 1970s and tough industrial legislation, our rich and picturesque tapestry of rivers, fords, lakes, tarns weirs and ponds are cleaner than ever, and are attracting more and more people to the commune with nature that is wild swimming.
Whether it’s relaxing in a tranquil swimming hole, showering under the crystal waters of a hidden waterfall, negotiating river rapids or just simply exploring the natural world from the water, swimming has a great deal to offer the holidaymaker seeking activity, adventure and relaxation.
Concerns over Cold and DangersConcerns about the cold should be swiftly reconsidered – think bracing and reviving rather than freezing and numbing. As anxiety increases about our nation’s increasingly inactive and unhealthy populace, swimming in cold water offers respite in having numerous health benefits. Regular cold water swimming can lead to lower blood pressure and cholesterol and what’s more an increase in fertility and libido. So you won’t be short of things to do once the day’s activities are over!
The dangers of wild swimming are also much trumpeted. A Google search on the subject will conjure up all manner of terrors, such as strong currents, hidden depths, diseases, speeding sport boats. But they are over-egged and can largely be avoided by exercising a degree of caution and common sense, and also by swimming in recognised spots.
Recognised Swimming UK SpotsThe increasing popularity has gone some way to improving knowledge of not only the best but also the safest swimming spots in the UK. With the aid of the Outdoor Swimming Society and wildswimming.co.uk websites and recent books like Daniel Start’s ‘Wild Swimming’ and Kate Rew’s ‘Wild Swim: River, Lake, Lido and Sea’ is now easy to plan a swim safari in any part of Britain that you want to submerge yourself in.
Travellers to Cumbria, for example, are spoilt by the region’s jewelled array of swim-friendly lakes and rivers that can be combined effortlessly into a safari holiday. Black Moss Pott, near Stonethwaite, is a river pool that offers a waterfall, jumps and even a natural Jacuzzi. The vast lakes of Buttermere and Crummock Water are ideal for swimming and bathing because their relative shallowness means they’re warmer than the surrounding lakes. The latter also offer shower facilities in the form of the Scale Force, the highest waterfall in the Lake District. For the more adventurous sport swimmer the crystal clear pools of Galleny Force offer superb opportunities for mountain pool snorkelling.
North Wales offers the safari swimmer spectacular sea caves – such as those at Aberdaron Bay on the Llyn Peninsula - that are ripe for exploration as well as mountain swimming, as Snowdon features a range of beautiful blue-green lakes at ever-increasing altitudes.