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 no Clean Water certificate yet, despite real determination, but many of us plunge daily and no-one has died yet!
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.