A Guide To Wild Swimming In The Outer Hebrides

‘Wild swimming’ is taking a dip in any natural body of water such as the ocean, a lake, river or waterfall, and for the most part, usually the water is quite cold. These are the places our almost all people went swimming before pools came along and in current times it’s a great way to connect with nature. Whether you are all or nothing and dive straight in or more of a tip-toe kind of person, wild swimming is for everyone and will make you feel wonderful.

There are so many benefits to cold water therapy, from boosting your immune system to flooding your body with feel good endorphins, you should definitely be adding a dip in the ocean to your adventure.

Time Of Year / Water Temperature

I’m not going to pretend that the sea here is anything but freezing. For the majority of the year, it’s really really cold. But if you are a seasoned sea swimmer, it’s nothing you can’t handle. I’ve been swimming throughout the year, and the warmest months are August, September and October – still cold, but slightly warmer than winter. If you haven’t done any sea swimming or cold water therapy before, take it slowly. The cold water can be very overwhelming and it takes about 5-10 minutes of being in the water before it becomes bearable.

My favourite spot, Bosta Beach

Safety

Always always go with someone. Either a fellow swimmer who is going to join you in the water or as a watcher from the shore, this is the best way to keep safe. If you are travelling solo, look for the Hebridean sea swimming club and join one of their sessions for a safe experience.

Some of the beaches of the Hebrides have strong currents and although may look inviting, you should not swim at. Dail Mor and Dail Beag has some pretty strong undercurrents and would not be a good choice to swim. My rule of thumb would be if it’s popular surf spot, then it isn’t suitable for sea swimmers.

The water is going to be very cold, so wear a wetsuit, boots and a hat to keep your body temperature up. If you aren’t wearing a wetsuit, keep your ocean dip to 15 minutes so you don’t loose too much heat. Have a dry towel and warm clothes to bundle up in afterwards, and if it’s a little exposed on the beach, get back to your vehicle and warm up.

Locations

Shawbost Beach

A popular spot with the locals, this little beach is a great spot for an ocean dip. There is parking at either end of the beach and you can stay overnight here as well. Check the weather conditions for this beach as it can sometime be a little choppy on a windy day from the Atlantic Ocean, remember to always have a swimming buddy!

The Braigh, Point

This is one of the sea swimming clubs favourite spots for swimming and for good reason. The shallow sandy bottom makes it a super easy and safe place to swim and and there is almost always someone walking along this beach so great for a first time swimmer.

Bosta Beach

My favourite spot for wild swimming is Bosta beach. This sheltered cove is the perfect place with white sand and (usually) calm waters. Be sure to swim out to the tide and time bell and give it a ring if you can! This is also a great place to watch the sunset from, so climb up one of the small hills to the right of the beach and relax while watching the sunset.

Let me know some of your favourite spots for wild swimming!

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