Day 50/366: what makes me feel amazing, happy and excited?



This month’s Plus 40 Fabulous theme is what really makes us excited, happy and feel amazing. For me, there is one thing that makes me feel this way more than anything which is wild swimming.  For me, this means swimming outdoors in a completely informal setting with no lifeguards and if possible no crowds of people.

I have always been a complete water baby, I can’t remember not being able to swim and I have never felt uncomfortable in the water.  As a child, family holidays generally involved staying with my grandparents who lived near the Kent coast where we would go for proper windbreak-sandcastle-icecream-picnic lunch-shrimping days out at Sandwich Bay or Dymchurch or Westgate.  As a teen we moved to my grandparents’ village and we sometimes used to swim after school or at weekends at Deal or Walmer.


I would also take every opportunity I could to swim in rivers, swimming pools and the sea.  Wherever we went I would want to find somewhere to swim and often goaded friends into swimming in possibly slightly unsuitable places. I swam through Durdle Door on the Dorset coast aged 14 a truly amazing experience.

Swimming in Coniston with Marley and Bella

I was lucky enough to go to a school that had an outdoor 25m pool, and this would open in the summer term. One summer term I had a timetable on a Wednesday where I would swim during PE in the morning, swim at lunchtime, swim in Wednesday afternoon games lesson and then after school.  I was obviously slightly obsessed, but I felt that the pool was the only place that I could feel comfortable in my body.  Bizarrely considering how much body shame I lived with as a teenager I never felt ashamed of my body in a swimming costume, probably because swimming was the one exercise I did well and I felt totally at home in the water.

I wore a bikini and no-one died


One of my most amazing swimming memories as a teen is a holiday to the Greek island of Paxos.  The family hired a small boat and we went over to a tiny island to the south called Anti Paxos.  Here we found the most beautiful cove of tiny white pebbles and water so clear that you could hardly see it.  There were fish to look at, and caves to explore.  I wanted to stay there forever and I cried when I left.  I have never been back, but it’s still stuck in my memory thirty years later.

As a student at Lancaster, I was able to visit the Lake District and I was lucky enough to have some amazing swims here in the early 90s.  In 1995 I moved to the central Lakes.  1995 was possibly the best summer since 1976.  From May until September it was hot and sunny, and I was living right on the shores of Windermere.  Sometimes I swam two or three times a day and me and a group of friends explored the gills, tarns and lakes  finding some amazing places.  One weekend we camped in Langstrath and walked and swam up the river all the way to Angle Tarn which we then swam across.  It was incredible.  I also have some wonderful memories of skinny dipping with friends after a couple of beers on a moonlit night in August (warning, this is not sensible!!).

Swimming in Wastwater, England’s deepest lake

I was lucky that Dave is also a keen swimmer. We have had so many swimming adventures in our 19 years together, and the past few years we have spent holidays exploring the amazing rivers, lakes and coasts of France and Spain as well as impromptu after work swims in our favourite local lakes, Rydal and Coniston.

The advent of waterproof cameras has meant that we have been able to document our swimming adventures, and the publication of three books; Wild Swim, Wild Swim Coast and Wild Swim France has fed our desire to discover amazing new swimming holes.  What was most gratifying is that we had already swum in many of the places  in the books.

We are also lucky enough to have a camper van and this has given us the freedom to tour around the UK and France finding amazing places to stop and swim.  In France, campervans are allowed to park up overnight, and this has meant that we’ve just turned up at places and had the most fantastic swims in the middle of nowhere at sunset or have got up for a sunrise swim.

When I am swimming outdoors in a beautiful lake or river, with eagles or red kites or alpine swifts flying overhead (yes, this has happened on a number of occasions in France) I forget about myself as someone that doesn’t quite fit in, I forget about physical discomfort of medical conditions or the mental pain of depression and anxiety and I actually feel like I belong in the world.  Sometimes it’s almost a meditation or possibly it’s sort of unmindful, without effort mindfulness.  I am allowing myself to just be, to savour the sensations of water and air and sunshine.  The silence of a lake or the rushing water of a river.  There is just something about being in or near water which makes me whole, it reincorporates me and I feel wonderful.


Other times, it’s like the most fun thing in the whole world.  Dave and I find rocks to jump and dive from, we wear goggles so we can look at the fish, we dive down, do handstands, chase each other or find a rapid and ride it down the river time after time.  It just makes me feel so HAPPY, a childlike uncomplicated delight in just physically being in the water.  Yes we act like children, and no we don’t care.  This is why there are so many photos of me in rivers and lakes grinning from ear to ear like some sort of lunatic.  It’s because  I’m besotted by the water.



Swimming in the sea in Britanny
Les Cascades de Sautadet
Swimming under Pont d’Arc on the Ardeche
Waterfall swimming in the Lake District
Gorge d’Herault
Sillyness in the Chassezac


Don’t forget to check out the other fabulous ladies also taking part

Nikki :


13 thoughts on “Day 50/366: what makes me feel amazing, happy and excited?

  1. I love this post, your photos are beautiful! And I have to admit it makes me sad to admit that I can’t swim 😦 I do love a good splash around in shallower water on the beach though xx


    1. Thankyou Cathy, you’re really kind! Swimming isn’t for everyone, and even getting into shallow water and splashing around is an amazing feeling as you’re getting all the good negative ions from the fresh or salt water!!


  2. Fantastic post! I love to swim, when I was younger most weekends I would be at our local swimming pool and on holiday in the sea! Sadly I don’t do it as much now I think years of feeling uncomfortable in my body left me with a fear of donning swimwear (I am much more comfortable now). and I have gotten out of the habit. Seeing this has made me realise how much I miss being in the water! x


    1. Thanks so much Nikki. I suppose I was so lucky that despite my body shame, because I loved swimming so much I would not let it stop me from doing it.

      I would so recommend getting out there are being in the water as it’s a wonderful and fun experience. If you and the family ever decide to come up to the Lakes, let me know and I can take you to one of my favourite swims 😀


  3. Lovely post and can so relate. I was always called the water baby as a child as always swam as we spent nearly each day of holidays at Joss bay having the sort of beach days you describe. Loved it. Sad as have stopped swimming now mainly due to body shame. Feel sad that although took my children to pools I rarely took them to the beach as I wouldn’t undress or get in sea with them. (Except lots of paddling quite deep which i loved). Remember feeling that urge to swim especially when they were older and went out with their dad, but i wouldnt let myself get into a costume. I did it once or twice which was amazing but I mainly avoided it just because of how I felt about me. Feels so sad but also makes me feel guilty! Your blogs, in particular this one, are so happy to read. Love the pics and the way you have incorporated swimming into your life so much. Very jealous of your holidays! I have seen some of those pics before and read your holiday posts and thought then how great to spend a holiday finding these unique places to swim. Well done on putting your thoughts down again and so so lovely to see you so happy x


    1. Oh Erica, that’s so sad that you felt like you couldn’t swim because of body shame 😦 It’s awful how much we deny ourselves because we are waiting until we are “more acceptable” to do it. I would urge you to say “fuck it” and go swimming this year if the weather is nice. There are so many lovely places to swim on the Kent coast and if you and your OH went in the evenings, there wouldn’t be loads of people around. Maybe you could use it as a body confidence building exercise?

      Huge hugs xxxx


  4. Wow what a great post! I didn’t know that wild swimming was even a thing until now. The pictures are amazing!!!…. PS: belated condolences about your beautiful dog’s recent passing.


    1. Hi Christy, thanks so much for your words about Bella, it’s been such a hard couple of weeks, I miss her so much. But at least we had wonderful adventures with her to remember her by.

      I would so recommend swimming outdoors, it’s such an amazing experience. Really hope that you try it one day 😀


  5. Awww Kate!!! I absolutely LOVED reading this post. It made me smile and filled me with some of the same feelings as you described. Maybe cause I recognise myself so much in this. I am also completely addicted to water and swimming. But to be totally honest, I have only known how to swim the last 5-6 years! Cause growing up in North of Norway and being allergic to chlorine made it difficult for me to learn it. Having a dad that was quite scared of water and a bit overprotective didn’t help either when it was nice weather as I was always told not to go in the water with my entire body. I loved paddling and sitting in the water. When I was in my early 30s I started learning to swim a little bit, by myself, and when I met Mike he took time to learn me how to swim. He is a very good swimmer so since I met him I have swam a lot. I swim in pools, lakes, the ocean and like you everywhere I can find to do it. Mike just call me his beautiful mermaid 😀 It looks so idyllic to swim in the Lake District and when I get up there at one point we should go swimming together!! And it was nice to see the lovely photos of Bella ❤


    1. Awww, thankyou so much lovely especially your comments about Bella. She and Marley had such a lot of adventures. It’s fab to hear your swimming story, and I’m so pleased for you that you learnt to swim as an adult your Mike sounds like just the best partner, what a lovely thing to do for you. My mother in law can’t swim and I’m always sad for her that she’s never experienced the wonder of swimming in the sea or a lovely lake or river.

      Yes, if you come up here in the summer we can go to one of my favourite swimming spots if the weather is nice – would be lovely to swim with you 🙂


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