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United Kingdom waters

Posted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 12:22 am
by lakediver
I'm currently reading Swimming With Seals by Victoria Whitworth where she frequently swims in the cold waters of the Orkney islands. Looking around Instagram and FB I've seen images of others who swim regularly in the lakes and seas of the UK and some of the images seem quite intriguing. I'm just curious about our moderator's experiences snorkeling in his vintage dry suit in his home waters. What are they like? Rocky or sandy? Marine life and aquatic flora? Are these people nuts for swimming regularly in very cold waters sans thermal protection?

Re: United Kingdom waters

Posted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 10:59 am
by Britmarine
There has been growing interest in recent years here in the UK in what has come to be called "wildswimming", i.e. swimming outdoors in streams, rivers, lakes and seas. The majority of people who engage in wildswimming don close-fitting free-diving-style wetsuits to keep warm in these cold waters and eschew additional gear such as masks, fins and snorkels. A diehard minority practise assiduously to coldproof their bodies to do their wildswimming suitless.

I prefer to follow in the wake of Geoffrey Fraser Dutton, whose "Swimming Free: On and Below the Surface of Lake, River and Sea" stands proudly on my bookshelf:
He wore a suit, mask, fins and snorkel when he ventured into the water while touring the UK. As for the UK as a snorkelling destination, I'd say that thermal protection of some kind is de rigueur here because open waters are generally cold all the year round. As for sealife, the Farne Islands near where I live are famous for their seal population and do attract their fair share of divers and snorkellers. I have to say that what can be seen from and above the waves will be more interesting than what is visible in the depths. Where I have snorkelled, the sight of the rising sun and the sandy beach is more pleasurable than what goes on underwater: few fish, the odd crustacean and clumps of seaweed. Just being in the water is therapeutic. Which reminds me that I've done plenty of diving into snorkelling history this year but precious little into the North sea with my vintage drysuit and basic gear.

I'm unfamiliar with Victoria Whitworth and her book "Swimming with Seals". Can you tell us a little more about her and her oeuvre?

Re: United Kingdom waters

Posted: Tue Oct 29, 2019 11:34 am
by lakediver
Shortlisted for the PEN Ackerley Prize 2018.

This is a memoir of intense physical and personal experience, exploring how swimming with seals, gulls and orcas in the cold waters off Orkney provided Victoria Whitworth with an escape from a series of life crises and helped her to deal with intolerable loss.

It is also a treasure chest of history and myth, local folklore and archaeological clues, giving us tantalising glimpses of Pictish and Viking men and women, those people lost to history, whose long-hidden secrets are sometimes yielded up by the land and sea.

"Attentive, astute and beautiful. I adored and shared the joys of swimming in the sea and of self knowledge, and I also learned much from this book. It expanded my mind and heart." —Amy Liptrot, author, The Outrun
About the Author
Victoria Whitworth is a historian and the author of Daughter of the Wolf.

Re: United Kingdom waters

Posted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:41 pm
by Bryan
My Mom got me that book at a 5 and 10 in the early 70s. I read it over and over and over because at the time I only had freshwater lakes and streams to snorkel in.

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