NukuNuku on tour – or how to plan your holidays around swim spots

“Imagine a summer spent swimming in mountain waterfalls, exploring lost ruins and caverns, and camping in ancient forests.” Wild Guide – Lake District and Yorkshire Dales: Hidden Places and Great Adventures

Inspired by the above and the heat of early summer this year I planned our family holiday around my new love, wild swimming. I found two amazing resources – the Wild Swim Map.  This is a website where you can search for swim spots wherever you are heading and read other swimmers’ reviews and notes. I also bought one of the  Wild Guide series for the Yorkshire Dales. This not only features swim spots but covers other ‘wild’ aspects wherever you are going – forests, ancients spots, walks etc.

None of us like a long journey without a stopover – so I used the amazing resource that is the Wild Swim map to find a swim along our route – Port Meadow on the Thames. I wanted somewhere halfway (ish) between home and final destination. We took a picnic from Brighton, drove up, parked in the car park and ate in the car because it was pouring with rain. Of course. The braver (less grumpy) 3 of us then went investigating up river, guide book in hand. Argued over whether this was ‘the spot’,  looked round and felt slightly shy as  dog walkers were the only others around. Our inner Seabird kicked in then and we thought ‘sod it’, whipped off our clothes and jumped in with the ducks. Weedy green water caused squeals when legs became entangled in it, ducks and swans and anglers only a little further off. We felt slightly self conscious before getting in but the minute we were in we didn’t care and felt adventurous (or a bit naughty).

It was the perfect stopover when heading North – just off the M40. Rope swing nearer the bridge that even the older two would play on – smallest one ending up soaked to the waist and doing the rest of the journey wrapped in a towel. Then onwards and Northwards….

Masons Campsite is right next to the river Wharfe in the Yorkshire Dales near the village of Appletreewick. The river is at the bottom of the small campsite and has 2 great rope swings where the kids line up and swing out over the river endlessly or spin each other into dizziness and the thrill of nearly falling in.

10 minutes down river from the campsite, after a bit of hesitation and doubt, we found the spot that matched the picture in the book. Despite the glorious sunshine nobody else was in there. Whipped off our clothes again (becoming a theme) while bemused dog walkers looked on and slid in tentatively. Much much colder than the sea in Brighton, peaty tasting brown water, soft and silky. Fantastic. Numb feet like November in Brighton in just a few minutes. Slimy, weed covered stones under foot and bum. Surrounded by stunning scenery. All to ourselves.

We spent the holiday using the Wild Guide as our bible and it kept us outside, off screens and well fed with great pub grub suggestions. Fantastic. Highly recommend. Take your haramaki with you and keep those kidneys warm. Keep tuned for the next wild swim spot recommendation coming soon…

Tips for warming up after sea swimming

“After drop” is common after swimming in cold water; you get out and feel fine, and then you start to get colder, sometimes growing faint, shivering violently and feeling unwell.” (Outdoor Swimming Society) 

Learning to head off the after drop is a key part of continuing to swim in cold water all year round. While in the cold water you can be lured into a false sense of security (numbness!) and stay in what turns out to be too long. With practice you learn your limitations (trial and error!)  just how cold you are going to be about 10 minutes after getting out. You then learn to moderate your swim times and get out before you feel you have to. Then the key is warming up – slowly. If you have a hot shower for example the blood can run from your core (where it is working hard to maintain your core temperature and keep you alive!) to your skin and actually make your temperature drop along with your blood pressure – potentially making you feel faint and ‘stinging’ your skin.

As you start to warm up blood starts to recirculate in your extremities and peripheral blood vessels, cooling as it travels. You can lose up to 4.5°C from your core temperature. This is where you haramaki corewarmer comes in really really handy.

swimmers in haramaki

Tips to warm up after you get out of cold water: 

  • Get dressed as soon as you can. Preferably starting with the top half of your body.  Use a haramaki. Use a robe to get dressed quicker and keep out of the wind.
  • Put on a hat and gloves and have some tea from a flask you brought with you!
  • Put on lots of layers. Haramaki, gloves, hat, thermals.
  • Sip a warm drink: this helps warm the body gently from the inside.
  • Eat something: sugar will help raise body temperature so have some cake!
  • Sit in a warm environment: chance for more tea and more cake with your fellow swimmers….
  • Walk around to generate body heat. It can take some time to warm properly. Running up and down the beach while waiting for your friends-who-faff can help.

For more information about acclimatising to cold water, the benefits and the risks go to the Outdoor Swimming Society 

If you have any good tips please add in the comments 🙂

Autumn is here – wrap your core

The temperature has dropped. You still want to get outside in the sunshine and enjoy being outside. Or you are reluctant to put on the heating and are getting cold sitting at your desk. Put on a haramaki – stretchy cotton ‘belly-wrap’ and keep yourself warm from your core to your extremities. The extra layer round your middle will help keep your whole body warmer. It keeps you snug and warm where you need it most. Like a scarf for your middle….

haramaki joy jump
Keeping Beach Bums Warm