I LOVE water. I can honestly think of nothing better than being outdoors, fully immersed in water. A lot of the time I love it too much to even swim, and prefer to just gently bob up and down basking head to toe in the perfection of it. I like to take my time, allowing the motion of the waves or current to wash over me and bring me back to the present moment in the most easeful way possible.
I’ve been lured in by icy cold rivers, lakes and oceans (OK maybe not icy, but definitely chilly) on more than one occasion. I’ve always felt refreshed and enlivened afterwards, but have very very rarely enjoyed the actual time in the water. Colder temperatures just don’t really suit my preferred style of bathing! However, there was one exception.
One summer’s day a group of friends and I took a trip to the forest in south Wales to visit some beautiful waterfalls. We walked up the steep path alongside the river which winds and cascades down between the trees.
The area is actually known as ‘Waterfall Country’ due to their abundance here. From the high impressive curtains of water that you can walk behind, to the smaller but equally magical falls that tumble into crystal clear pools throughout the rocky gorge, there was no shortage of inspiration for every water lover!
I knew the water would be cold. It had been a glorious summer and I’d been fortunate enough to swim in some beautiful outdoor spots in the UK a few times already that year. On the hottest day, in much slower moving water on lower ground, I had found it pleasantly cool.
I thought back to my first outdoor swim of the year. It was a blazing hot day, and we’d gone to a popular swimming spot at Claverton, near bath. It was during the week and most people were in work, so we were delighted to find that we practically had it to ourselves!
The water was deep, dark and murky, but the lush green plants that surrounded us provided a strange sort of comfort. It was impossible to feel in any way uneasy about what lurked in the muddy depths of the river whilst we were in the loving embrace of the verdant life that flourished there.
Birds sang, insects hummed, and the river washed over us. It was an alien situation, and yet it felt so familiar. The aliveness of the habitat I found myself in resonated deeply within my body, waking up a part of me that slept during the time I spent in the clean modern artificial world.
The water at this idyllic spot in Claverton wasn’t warm, but it was in a completely different league to the piercing cold of the Welsh waterfalls.
I was excited to plunge into the deep pool that had been carved out by the gushing torrent of white water, but I was expecting it to be fairly unpleasant! I hurriedly tip-toed across the mossy rock – I was partly anticipating the exhilarating thrill, and partly eager for it to be over!
The waterfall was a modest size, but its power was undeniable. As I got closer excitement took over. It must have been the way the water hurled itself over the edge of the rock without hesitation that encouraged my unusually wholehearted approach to the experience.
I launched myself in without a second thought. I was vaguely aware of a slightly painful tingling sensation in my skin, but the sheer joy of being engulfed in this bubbling cauldron far outweighed any discomfort I felt. It was like being in a huge, natural, extremely vigorous jacuzzi!My friend went and stood directly under the roaring torrent of water. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to withstand that kind of force, but he seemed fine so I joined him! It was a crazy kind of power shower that left me gasping for breath and laughing hysterically.
A very quick dip is all I usually manage in colder water, but this lively waterfall pool lured me back in for more. I happily soaked up its invigorating energy, my senses fully absorbed and my whole body buzzing.
I realised that I was ENJOYING myself, and the novelty of this fact made me even happier. It was a bizarre experience for me to be in freezing cold water and ecstatically happy at the same time. Eventually I did have to drag myself out of there before I lost all feeling in my limbs. I felt amazing, fully charged by the waterfall’s power, if a little battered about! That was one swim I wouldn’t be forgetting in a hurry!
After such an intense start, I floated through the rest of the day in the Welsh woodlands with a warm inner glow, matching the outer warmth of the golden sunlight that filtered down through the trees. We lay on the grass, did handstands against tree trunks, laughed, chatted, strolled and ate. It was marvellous.
Are you a mermaid/merman too? Have you had any unusual outdoor swimming experiences? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear your stories!
I go along with all what you say, and the experiences of wild swimming. You describe it very well – you really HAVE to do it to know it!! Have wild swum over the years in the River Chew, on the Brecon Beacons, at Broome in NW Australia where it was 31 deg,, in two more ‘wild’ spots in Oz, (one allegedly with crocs in it), in Derbyshire, off a couple of the Inner Hebridean islands in May, and some of these without a costume …….now THAT’S an experience!
Wow sounds so amazing! I hope we get some good weather this summer for swimming because I am a complete wimp with the cold!