Diary of a wandering swimmer - A dip in the middle

Dip In The Middle 1

The Swim

Was this a dip or a swim? I submerged my whole body and moved my arms and legs, but only propelled myself forwards for a very short distance. I have learned over the last few years that it really doesn’t matter if you call it dipping or swimming. As anyone who immerses themselves in natural waters knows, when I got out I felt that feeling so it’s all good.

And this dipping or swimming spot also has some interesting history and geography.

Close to where I had my dip and near to the campsite where we parked Clova, my swimming support vehicle, there is a ‘track’ that was constructed in 1719 as part of General Wade’s network of military roads. Wade’s tracks were laid after 1715 to move troops around the country more easily in case another Jacobite rebellion broke out. Also not far from where I swam (or dipped) sits a stone with a plaque proudly marking the centre of Scotland. Of course, there is a debate about exactly where the centre is. It depends on how you measure it and I was amazed to discover how scientific it sounded when I read about the different methods.

Regardless of whether or not this place is the true centre of Scotland, it has stunning views of a long wide glen. Here there are deer, hares that turn white in the winter, and pine trees adorned with decorations of lichen. The ground underneath is covered in pine needles and soft mosses. One river bends back and forth along the bottom of the glen while another playfully bounces down the opposite side; they join a little further down the glen. The air smells fresh, and the water is fresher. I was, however, pleased that the temperature felt manageable even though there must be snowmelt entering the flow somewhere nearby at this time of year. In some places this river is fast-moving, tumbling over rocks, but I found a deep pool that was perfect. I could see the snowy tops of the mountains close by and was lucky (or maybe unlucky) that a snowfall was not blowing through at the time. Instead, the occasional cloud puffed by in the light breeze and the sun was warm.

The spot I found was not far along a track from the road. It was strewn with stones that had an incredible pattern across their surfaces. I have never seen anything like it. Sandy coloured with a pattern I can only say resembles paisley although squarer and without the tail. The pattern was a grey bluish colour. I am no geologist but plan to see if I can find out what may have created those shapes lacing the surface. It was one of those moments that shows just where we get our design ideas from.

I’m glad to say I was accompanied by my No.1 fan and our dog Rudi for support and encouragement. He wants to get in - I just know he does - but as yet it’s a work in progress.

This peaceful and quiet spring swim in the middle, or should I say centre, of the country was perfect. My only worry was that the stones at the bottom were a bit slippery so I had to take care, mainly so I didn’t look stupid falling over and sharing loud expletives at the all too sudden entry.

Dip In The Middle 2

Top image: facing north

This image: I'm in!


The Location

I was in the River Truim, which is a tributary of the River Spey. It lies on the western edge of the Cairngorms and flows from Loch Ericht through Dalwhinnie. It is flanked by the A9 which although a busy artery in this part of Scotland was not visible nor audible from the water or the track. As well as the A9, it is also close to the A86, both joined by the ‘centre of Scotland stone’ road which joins the A889. My specific location was across that road from the Invernahavon Caravan Park. If you want and electric hook up, a chalet or tent pitches I recommend this campsite. I have not visited in high season but it was lovely, quiet and very well kept. It lies south of Aviemore about half an hour's drive north of Dalwhinne. It is close to many other lovely swim spots like Lochs Insh and Morlich, the River Spey and many others I have not yet tried. It is therefore a great area to visit on the way up to Inverness or Loch Ness or of course further north.

Dip In The Middle 4

Facing south.


Contact me

If you have any suggestions of places I could swim email me on k.gillwood4@gmail.com or find me on Instagram @swimfreedomscotland

Please also take a look at my website: www.swimfreedom.co.uk


Read more about my swims

01 Cover May22 Low Res

Issue 61 May 2022

  • New faces in open water swimming
  • Swimming for Ukraine
  • Explore: London, Copenhagen and Bristol & Bath
  • Yoga for swimmers
  • Understanding the pool clock
  • On Test: Entry-level wetsuits

Swim Wild and Free

Sign up to our newsletter and receive a free five-part series on the fundamentals of freestyle by Olympic silver medallist Keri-anne Payne.