January has been good for wild swimming so far, enhanced yesterday by a swim at Carsaig Bay.
While it might be a few months yet until the water temperature starts to rise – and there will undoubtedly be a cold spell before then to cool it off some more – the light has certainly started to return. And so have the wild swimmers, with three group swims this year (and numerous others in between by Lottie and Iona).
We started off the New Year at Scotnish picnic tables and an exhilarating dash across Caol Scotnish, round the point and along to Starfish Bay.
Next up was an icy swim at Dun Mhuirich. Linne Mhuirich is a favourite summer and autumn swim spot because it’s always slightly warmer, being more brackish than the sea; but this rule is naturally reversed in the winter. Plus it was raining. Raining hard. One of those times when you get wetter out of the water than in it (particularly if you left your towel out on the grass while swimming!). Icy was the word on everyone’s numb lips that day, but we soon warmed up with soup and cake in Tayvallich Coffee Shop (while Duggie warmed up with a bracing be-wetsuited cycle back along the road).
Then, this weekend, back to the old favourite of Carsaig Bay, with a particularly low tide. And, as with all the swims this year, another turnout of more than half a dozen. As we immersed ourselves and moved out and round Hans’s fishing boat and the first reef, there was a gentle but significant swell moving across the bay. Lottie called for a swim out to a usually deeply submerged reef that’s just in from Frothy Rock. The swell over the top of it was a bit sharper as we approached, but it took a little time to find the rock to stand on. In the meantime Melanie shrieked with concern as a selkie tried to take her to the underworld. I think we each in turn shrieked or screamed as the thick leather-like seaweed caught our ankles. But eventually we found the weed-free bit of the reef and tried to balance knee deep in water.
So, with the days starting to get noticeably longer, there are many sunny swims to look forward to … and we know how much winter sunshine can lift the spirits both in the water and while getting changed. Plus, of course, now is also one of the best seasons to be in the sea: there will be no jellyfish for a long time yet!
(Pics by Captain Duggie and Iona)