You might think it’s a bit chilly in the UK to go swimming outdoors, especially in the ‘wild’, but as the introduction to Wild Swimming by Daniel Start says, it’s actually good for you. Swimming in cold water leads to ‘cold adaptation’, which: “brings down blood pressure and cholesterol, reduces fat disposition” and has a lot of other benefits.
So now you know it’s good for you then this book aims to help you find the best places in the UK to go for an outdoors swim. Sent to me by Natural Collection, its subtitle is “150 hidden dips in the rivers, lakes and waterfalls of Britain” and that’s exactly what the book does. Split up into sections of the UK, the author describes a personal trip to many of the places in a particular area and then picks out a few more swims nearby. If there’s one criticism it’s that some of the areas are quite large, central and east covers everywhere from Suffolk to Yorkshire and Merseyside. But that’s really because some places are better than others and have more hidden gems so the author can’t really be blamed for that.
The descriptions of each place benefit greatly from the author’s personal experience of visiting them, including a bit of history about the area and hints and tips about where exactly to go or park and who to speak to around the area.
What’s also impressive is the number of beautiful photographs. Some of the pictures are truly stunning and others are enhanced by having people enjoying the lakes or rivers, giving you a real sense of what to expect.
It’s essentially a reference book but done in a way suitable for the coffee table. You could easily spend an hour just casually flicking through it. Using it as intended to find a place to swim is also easy. Ordnance Survey references of two letters and six numbers are given for each location and also a postcode. Both can be used online to plan your trip and with the postcode the book also gives extra detail, like 400m north of the postcode, to help you get the right place.
I was pleasantly surprised reading this book as it wasn’t really a subject that interested me but it is now and I want to get out there and explore. The author’s done his job well.
Wild Swimming is available from Natural Collection for £13.95.