Posted by: wildswimmers | June 21, 2017

Magical Midsummer Night Walk

Last night I did a magical midsummer nightwalk in the lush temperate rainforest here in Argyll.  It’s something I’ve dreamed of doing since reading “Nightwalk” by Chris Yates while waiting for the Colonsay ferry some years ago.  I didn’t really expect anything specially exciting to happen.  But it did.  The evening was warm and very calm.  Windless.  Perfect for this type of expedition.

I took nothing with me, wishing to walk simply and unencumbered by rucksacks, torches, flasks and the like.  Just myself, walking in the dark.  I left the house about midnight and made my way quietly through the village and soon experienced my first mysterious noise from nature – high up in the majestic trees by the village hall – a strange creaking bird call, like a rusty door hinge, repeated many times by at least two birds.  I stood very still, puzzling as to what type of bird would make this call, which I had never heard before.  I’ve since been told it would be a tawny owl and its mate, calling to each other.

Leaving the road I plunged into the darkness of the woods, following the path which gleamed dimly white, often nearly overbalancing as I tried to get used to not utilising sight to assist with balance.  (Next day every muscle in my legs ached, from suddenly being pressed into service).  Dim shapes moved – deer?  Rustlings from the thick bracken made me start.  But I saw nothing.  Until I broke through the tree cover high up on the ridge and looked north.

I was stunned by the breathtaking beauty of the dark islands, the brightly shimmering Sound of Jura and the dark stain of pink to the far north, where the sun was lying low beyond the horizon.  Even amidst this wilderness there were signs of civilisation, regular and comforting blinks of light from the lighthouses at Skervuile and Rudha Sgeir, tiny but vital.  I sat awhile in the stillness.  A strange whispering of the trees precluded an isolated, fresh and powerful gust of wind.  Then, again, stillness.  Moving onto the very top of the hill, I walked further to a viewpoint.  Southwards the visibility was poor and I was about to turn back when a ghostly white apparition soared past!  A barn owl.  Utterly silent, it moved through the dark air, disappearing into the trees.  Spellbound I waited.  It returned suddenly out of nowhere and came unexpectedly and rather alarmingly close, circling several times about six feet above my head.  I’ve heard about owls gouging out people’s eyes and raised my hands to protect my face, just in case.  Having inspected me carefully, the owl faded away into the night.  It was an unsettling but rather wonderful encounter.   I turned for home.

 

On passing the village hall the tawny owls were still in full voice.  I stopped to drink sweet fresh water from the village well and stepped into the unwelcome glare of the street lights.  The spell was broken.

Posted by: wildswimmers | May 23, 2017

Magical misty swim


Tonight was a very misty, drizzly, midge infested evening but I had promised to attend the weekly swim, so cycled miserably down to the village hall, secretly hoping no-one else would turn up.  We’d planned to swim in a sheltered sea loch accessed over a boggy field.  As more and more keen swimmers appeared my heart sank and I resigned myself to a cold, nasty swim.  But…. it turned out to be magically warm as we swam out, caressed by soft fronds of seaweed and bathed in gentle waves, with oyster shells and brittle stars decorating the sea bed.  Everyone felt re-energised and joyful afterwards and this goes to show that no matter how reluctant one feels and how unpromising a swim may appear to be, it is always wonderful!!

Posted by: wildswimmers | April 28, 2017

Awesome otter encounter

Early this morning I waded in at low tide, for my usual morning swim, dreading the moment of immersion as usual.  Suddenly, 3 feet away, something burst out of the shallows and flipped back in, my eye only catching the slippery wee tail as it re-entered the water, and the dark shape swimming swiftly away.  I jumped and squealed with fright, thinking in a split second of ferocious conger eels or crazed dogfish bent on attack!

Little otter (pic by Lottie Goodlet)

Then instantly I realised it was a little otter and quickly ducked down into the water and tried to be very quiet, though my heart was pounding and adrenalin was rushing through me.  It kept on swimming, with a fish grasped in its sharp little teeth, towards the shore, seemingly unaware it was being followed.  And as quickly as it had appeared, it disappeared.  Although I swam around for about 20 minutes I didn’t see it again.  But what a thrill!  And what a wonderful way to start the day.  It’s so good to know these little creatures are all around us, although we see them rarely.

Posted by: wildswimmers | March 24, 2017

Equinox Challenge

I’ve been very cowardly and lazy this winter and haven’t swum nearly as often as I should have.  In order to spur me on Lottie has set us both a challenge – to swim every day between the vernal equinox and midsummer’s day.  Memories of last year’s wonderful swims, and the prospect of another summer of delicious watery adventures should provide the inspiration I need.  Thanks Lottie!

Posted by: wildswimmers | March 20, 2017

Swimdogs

Some jolly pics of our lovely doggies who often join us for our swims.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: wildswimmers | February 22, 2017

Swimmers -v- Salmon Farm

Help!!! – one of our most beautiful and tranquil bays is threatened by a fish farm application!  A large group of swimmers took to the waves to show their opposition and this gained coverage in newspapers locally and nationally.

All together now - Pic by Mark Smith

All together now – Pic by Mark Smith

Joining forces - Pic by Mark Smith

Joining forces – Pic by Mark Smith

Swimmers heading out - pic by Philip Price

Swimmers heading out – pic by Philip Price

Dounie Bay is a sandy sheltered bay, one of the few safe nooks in the dangerous Sound of Jura and a favourite swimming spot, picnic place, yacht anchorage, kayaking stop-off and is on a route for salmon returning to breed in the nearby River Add.

Importantly, the deep sea trench nearby is a haven for the endangered “Common” skate.

Dounie Bay, Sound of Jura

Dounie Bay, Sound of Jura – pic by Lottie Goodlet

This being the first fish farm application in a Marine Protected Area, it’s terribly important that we oppose it with all our might.  This blog is to raise awareness and hopefully gain support for our efforts.  Thanks to anyone who signs our online petition or writes to protest.  See links and more info below.

Sign the petition at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/no-to-fish-farm-in-the-sound-of-jura 

Our next event is for a mass kayaking photoshoot : Meet at Carsaig, Tayvallich on Sat 11 March ready to set off by 11am. The beautiful two mile paddle north to Dounie Bay has fantastic views across to Jura and the Gulf of Corryvreckan. Conditions permitting we hope to be photographed by a drone as well as from the shore. It’s a great place to picnic so bring your lunch. This paddle is best suited to competent kayakers with their own gear. (If the weather is not suitable then we’ll hope to do it over the weekend of 25th/26th March.)

Fish Farm Poster

Website: https://douniebay.wordpress.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/friendsofthesoundofjura/

Twitter: @TheSoundOfJura

“The Friends of the Sound of Jura seek to protect the Sound, the River Add and their local users from threats to the area’s wildlife and local economy”

 

Posted by: wildswimmers | November 27, 2016

Nutty swimmers – fun in 2016

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Underwater hooper

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Spaceman swimmer

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Seaweed as clothing

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The gentleman swimmer

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Cooling off midsummer

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Sporting the latest fashions

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Wrapped up

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Two ladies

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The biker swimmer

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Underwater antics

Posted by: wildswimmers | November 19, 2016

Between two worlds: 2016

Memories of our swimming in 2016 – sunny days!

Posted by: wildswimmers | September 29, 2016

Swimming into Autumn by guest blogger Martin

Lovely story of an autumn swim by The Danna Dooker….

There’s a strong sense of changing seasons now that we’re on the autumn side of the equinox. I had a mini-storm swim this morning amongst sunshine and squalls. Got down to the rocks and there was a tiny otter bobbing around fishing just a few metres away. I brought Dannach in very close to me, and turned her away from it so that she wouldn’t get the scent. The otter worked its way along through the turbulent water, diving and then munching on a small fish before diving for another as it progressed parallel to the shore. It was squeaking when its head was above the water as though calling for its mother. I think it got our scent briefly because it stopped and looked for a few seconds, and then continued with the fishing. Once it had gone, I got ready to go in and then saw an ominous band of grey from the south west… I quickly covered my clothes with my dryrobe and weighted everything down with the wellies on top.

As I entered the water the squall hit, so I was pleased to be in sea and away from the wet rain! I had to swim away from the wind to start with because the rain was so heavy, but once your head is down it’s another world of turquoises and greens of the moving water, with intermittent breaths of air and a glimpse of the shoreline. And then, once the rain had eased off, back again towards the waves and rolling water. Came out after the squall and managed to get changed in the dry before the next one rolled in. The dryrobe is doing well at the moment keeping my clothes dry on the shore, and it was great to be bundled up in it as I walked back to the house.

Posted by: wildswimmers | July 18, 2016

Dreaming of being a sea gypsy

Bored with being stuck indoors interminably (not uncommon during a Scottish “summer”) we sat moaning and looking out of the window.  Eventually we became dimly aware that it might clear up and sure enough – it did!!!! We rushed to pack an attenuated picnic and bundled the two dogs and the Swift Swimmer into our little Drascombe Dabber “Olivia”, along with spare petrol, a mobile phone plus extra battery pack and our rarely used lifejackets (these last items being deemed rather important after our most recent, and nearly disastrous, outing).  Brigadier Sootbag followed in his new sit-on kayak.  This was a surprising, yet welcome, addition to our party, since he rarely graces us with his presence.  In perfect calm weather we chuntered down to our favourite beach and set ourselves up for the afternoon.  Little Teddy, our new pup, seemed quite at home on board, this being his first outing at sea.  I had a wonderful long swim during which I made friends with several interested seals.  Ailsa practised her hooping (something rarely seen on the beaches of Argyll) and then she swam and so did little Teddy.  We made our bonfire and this necessitated various trips by kayak and on foot to collect driftwood.  The menu consisted of veg sausages with baked beans stuffed into rolls, washed down with ginger beer and cider, followed by Kelly Kettle tea and Kit-Kats.  We were in seventh heaven just being out of doors and we all stated that it was our life’s ambition to spend every day like this, being sea gypsies, reeking of woodsmoke, hair stiff with salt, faces weatherbeaten and streaked with ash, wading about in the seaweed, eating beans out of a tin with a razorshell.  What could be more perfect?

 

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