Wardie Bay is beside Granton Harbour on the north of Edinburgh facing the Kingdom of Fife. A bijou beach on the Firth of Forth, it is my favourite spot for wild swimming in the city. At almost any time of the year, I join bathers in bikinis, bobble hats and wetsuits jogging up and down the strand to warm up, dipping and screaming, before struggling into oversized dry-robes and sipping hot chocolate from flasks.
This is the community of Wardie Bay Wild Ones, a friendly and welcoming lot (see Facebook). They advise on safety and are always ready with notifications of any local issues. There is now a hard-won Clean Water certificate so you may plunge daily with confidence.
And Edinburgh Christmas Day at 1-degree air temp with my daughters was a really memorable occasion, and then there is the annual Loony Dook (traditionally from South Queensferry 8 miles further west) which draws a crowd on 1 January. There are swimming lessons, and even monthly cake sales.
I have floated under cool blue skies, watched the underbellies of Guillemots and cavorted through lively waves, but if I’m not in a Wardie Bay sea-mood, I sit around a campfire, go rock-pooling, or do tai chi at the edge where you can find starfish. The benefits of cold-water swimming on mental health are clear, but don’t stay in too long if you aren’t used to it – you’ll still get a rush of adrenalin and special wild-swimming high.