June 2024 ‘Swim hiking’

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When I was a kid, I hated going for a walk. I would grumble, shuffling along under duress and probably making the whole experience unbearable for everyone else. When I was about 11, I went on a school trip to North Wales and was introduced to walking boots, Thermos flasks and the process of planning, preparing and going for a big walk. The walking boots were on loan from the hostel and were stiff leather with red laces. I remember after breakfast we all had to all sit with a big pot of dubbin and manky cloths to waterproof our boots. I can distinctly remember the smell, waxy texture and thinking, is this really necessary?

It wasn’t until my early 20s that I could appreciate a walk as an adventure. When I was at university a group of us walked up Snowdon and I began to understand why a hike could be enjoyable, but apart from reaching a peak or perhaps a pub I still found myself wondering about the point of it all. Perhaps it was because I never felt completely comfortable. Walking up a hill left me sweaty and breathless, walking down one I felt clumsy, cumbersome and would often stumble. But then, I spent a weekend in the Lake District with SwimTrek.

Suddenly, a walk had a purpose. Walking towards a swimming spot had me captivated and engaged unlike anything else. Walking to a mountain lake or tarn was exciting. Sweat, discomfort and aching limbs would all be washed away with a cool dip at the top. It would rejuvenate me and energise me enough to make my way home or onto another swim spot. I found myself excited to plot new routes, pouring over Ordnance Survey maps, fingers tracing blue wiggly lines or seeking blue blobs. Today, I love to walk. I love it even more if I am walking to a swimming destination, but I appreciate the outdoors in a way that a swim isn’t always necessary. Outdoor swimming unlocked this simple leisure pursuit that is so bloody good for us.

Walking and outdoor swimming go hand in- hand, the best swim spots are always at the end of a bit of effort. In this month’s issue we celebrate that and look to those who have made swim-walking a business, a hobby and a joy. Step this way…

Ella Foote, Editor

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  • Walk more to swim faster
    Simon Griffiths shares how walking can benefit your swimming, and lead you to more interesting swimming locations.
  • How to train for the swims on SwimRun
    Swimming in swimruns is different. Simon Griffiths looks at how to prepare for it.
  • Land and water
    Rowan Clarke laces up her walking boots, packs a swimsuit and discovers the simple beauty of swim-walking.
  • Race day tactics for open water swimming
    Positioning, drafting and the final sprint: Open water coach and Founder of Swim Smooth, Paul Newsome, shares his race day tactics for open water swimming
  • This booty was made for walking
    Ella Foote heads to the hills with Every Body Outdoors and realises how having the right kit can completely change your enjoyment in the great outdoors
  • What to pack for swim hiking
    The best outdoor gear for adventurous swim hikes is versatile, weatherproof and easy to pack and carry. Think lightweight hiking shoes, quick drying trousers that easily fit into a tow float, and flasks filled with a hearty lunch.
  • Outdoor swimming kit we love this spring
    Size-inclusive hiking and swimwear, protein-boosted breakfast cereal and a change robe designed with wheelchair users in mind: a round up of the ten best pieces of outdoor swimming kit we’ve tried, tested, and loved this spring.
  • Water, whisky, coffee – a cold water weekend at Glen Dye
    Otherwise known as the Nordic Cycle, contrast bathing is a regime where you move between the heat of a sauna to cold water immersion, ending on a cold dunk. Try is at Glen Dye’s new Discovery and Adventure Centre in glorious Aberdeenshire
  • Best adventure bags for outdoor swimmers
    Durable, weatherproof and ready for anything: whatever you’re looking for in a new adventure bag, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our expert guide to wet and dry bags
  • How to nail nutrition for swimmers by marathon swimmer Sarah Thomas
    When you’re taking on a long swim that requires feeds, dialling in your nutrition is paramount to success. You can fake it for shorter swims, but once you start getting into 12-hour+ swims, there is less room for error.
  • June in the swim community
    NOWCA releases their new wild swimming app and Mental Health Swims is on the lookout for new partners.
  • Radical rest: revolutionary woman
    Ella Foote meets Evie Muir – activist, author and founder of Peaks of Colour, a nature-for-healing community group
  • Why I swim: Libby Page
    Author Libby Page’s new book, The Lifeline, is inspired by the water and her love of swimming. She tells us more.
  • Space to pause and reflect
    Swimming and walking in nature can both be transformative experiences, helping us to pause and reflect on parts of our lives that are overwhelming or limiting – the ideal opportunity, then, for a life coaching session. Jo Tinsley meets life coach and wild swim coach Tara Kelsall for a chat and a dip
  • Move of the month: side lying clam
    This exercise strengthens and activates the hip abductors, which we use in both swimming (particularly breaststroke) and walking.
  • How to give yourself a relaxing foot massage
    Give your hard-working feet some TLC with a relaxing and invigorating massage that can help improve circulation and reduce tension.
  • How to make a sauna whisk
    Boost circulation in your skin and send sweet fragrance into the air with a sauna whisk, which you can make with birch or willow twigs this time of year
  • How I train: Monika Mittaz
    This summer Monika Mittaz will attempt to swim the 38km-length of Lake Neuchâtel in Switzerland. We spoke with Monika in the lead up to her challenge.
  • Best changing mats and sitting mats for swimmers
    Designed to give you a clean, dry surface to stand on whilst getting changed, changing mats – and their larger sibling, the sit mat – are a treat for your feet.

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