By: Blonde Two
Between Christmas and New Year Mr B2 and I escaped in our newly converted camper van (jolly good work Mr B2) to Snowdonia where we enjoyed some wild nights (outdoor style), a few walks and some beautiful clear water. In truth it was only I who indulged in outdoor swimming (okay dipping), and consequently only I who shivered at night. Snowdonia as it turns out is a fabulous location for those who want to swim outdoors. With lakes (or llyns) around every corner and waterfalls meeting the roads at regular intervals, I was spoilt for choice but in the end went for two that both included a bit of walking (mainly for post-swim warmth).
When you don’t know an area well, it can be tricky to predict where all the other visitors will be. Most of them seemed to be visiting Llyn Idwal when we did but it was great to see so many people enjoying themselves outdoors. True to Welsh mountain weather, the walk up to the cwm was a windy one with gusts that were nearly knocking us sideways and, as we approached the lake, I was beginning to doubt my determination levels. There were waves on the lake and it was clearly too windy to risk a lengthy swim in unknown waters so I opted to paddle off a section of beach where any strong gusts would blow me onshore. This turned out to be a source of great personal amusement as all my attempts to leave the beach into deeper waters were thwarted by the wind. If I had wanted to swim into the middle of the lake I wouldn’t have been able to. I wasn’t in long enough to allow for an accurate temperature reading but there was snow on the ridge and shivers as I changed. The picture below looks as though I was swimming in proper water, in actual fact it was only up to my knees when I stood up.
Watkin Path Waterfalls
Over ten years ago, my first and so far only ascent of Snowdon took me past these waterfalls and even then (long before my outdoor swimming days) I felt a longing to dip in their pools. Move on a few years and they have become a popular summertime spot despite the climb up to them. The lowest stretches of the Watkin Path offer a great walk with plenty of map interest and history to explore. We were there far too late in the day to consider the summit but managed to fit in a little explore (we will be returning for more) and a waterfall dip. I was joined in my peaceful contemplation by some daring but friendly lads who cheerfully informed me, after their first plunge from height, that they ‘do this all the time’. Despite my doubts over the safety of such activity. It was good to see them out enjoying the outdoors and I did at least earn a compliment from their respective adults on the braveries of skin swimming (that’s with a swimsuit not without) in Welsh waters.
Wild swimming in Wales
Although I appear to have picked two of Wales’ most busy of waterways in which to winter swim, I was not disappointed with either experience. The water in Snowdonia is amongst the clearest I have ever swum in and in amazing locations. I am off to Wales again this weekend. Not as far north this time but to the Cambrian Mountains where, amongst the reservoirs and hills, if you look at your map closely enough, you can find some very tempting lakes. Just one more reason to keep those navigation skills honed!