Creativity & wild swim retreat in the Highlands

My pilot creativity & wild swim retreat in the Highlands ran in August this year. I thought I would stop and take a moment to celebrate what a truly magical experience it was to spend a week swimming with some like-minded people in my local lochs and glens here in the Highlands of Scotland.  

We were blessed with some amazingly warm weather in August, which meant that the planned bracing early-morning dip turned into a leisurely sojourn on the first day in the neighbouring Glen Affric, stretching out afterwards to sunbathe amongst the heather with a juice to refresh us and some oils for energy and uplift shared by one of our swimmers.  Soon we were hungry and broke out the tea, coffee and cake, home-baked by another of our group, and we chatted quietly well into the afternoon.  One of our group, so lulled by the waters of the loch and the soothing space promptly curled up and fell asleep, such is the effect of giving yourself the gift of time unbound by demands to perform for others.  Indeed we all felt incredibly grateful to not have to be anywhere, nowhere to go and nothing to do.  

Creativity & Wild Swim Retreat in the Highlands

Creativity & Wild Swim Retreat in the Highlands

We slowly packed up and ambled back for a refresh at our various B&Bs before heading down to Loch Ness for an early evening swim. The heat of the day had warmed the waters and I could take my time showing some of the group how I take some of my underwater images.  It was a pleasure to walk people through how I use my GoPro and the Axisgo Housing I use for my underwater photography and we chatted and laughed in the fading light as we tried a few shots together.  Some had used this equipment before, many hadn’t but had wanted to try it. Others had no idea where to start so it was a real sharing of expertise all round that felt a lovely, fun community of just playing with the equipment.

Once the sunset had all but faded the day away, we reluctantly climbed out to dry and dress and sneaked a little ‘Stags Breath’ with a hot chocolate as if we were all old schoolfriends, not a group of souls who’d only just gathered the evening before in my house for a welcome meet and greet.  Dinner, a glass of wine and opening introductions all seemed a long time ago after such a full day.  Setting the scene for the weekend had been something I was really keen to do; I chose some extracts to set the tone of the importance of time to be creative as a fundamental element of our wellness. Twenty-four hours later, it was clear that this mood had taken root amongst us all…

Back to Drumnadrochit after our first full day with just enough time to grab fish and chips and a beer sat outside Fiddlers, the local village restaurant and we chatted through our amazing day before heading home.

Wild swimming in loch ness

Plodda Falls

The next morning of our creativity & wild swim retreat in the Highlands it was up and out early, back to Glen Affric. But this time to Plodda Falls which I’ve seen many times before but still captivates me. 

We took our time making our way down, snaking through the pathway in the forest, some more sure-footed than others so helping hands assisted all round.  I offered a few pointers about iphone photography and we all enjoyed capturing the power of the water and details from the forest floor, chief among which were the toadstools that fascinated everyone judging by the whatsapp group photo-sharing, afterwards!   

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Once down to the waters’ edge we were stripped off and feeling our way across the rocks to a plunge pool of foamy, deep, cold water beneath 150 ft of a falling cascade.  It feels impossible to relate the magnitude of it, but we did catch a range of images of us all beaming and happy in the water, proud and content.  It was a real achievement for some of our group, new to wild swimming, to manage the challenge of this, but what an achievement was felt by everyone as we dressed and headed back up to the picnic area for simple sandwiches and tea, taking our time again to just relax and be.

It was agreed all round that we absolutely needed to return to our first swim location for a final dip at Loch Beinn a Mheadhoin (pronounced ben a vey an)  as a relaxing end to our swim break and so we spent our last afternoon as we had begun, only the morning of the day before, really? 



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This really had been a very precious two days, and so we finished off with a celebratory meal back again at Fiddlers, although this time we treated ourselves to the restaurant menu and a glass or two of wine to round off our trip which had seemed like much, much more than only 3 nights.  Still warm in the evening air, we were able to sit outside and appreciate our time as a group.  Full and sleepy, people headed off, sharing goodbyes and fond wishes for a safe return home the next day.

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I’ll definitely run another creativity & wild swim retreat in the Highlands. I’m lucky; I have all this on my doorstep. I have a great desire to share not only the beautiful area with others but also the concepts of taking time out for yourself – to be in nature and to be creative. Until the next time, take care and enjoy your outdoors.

Margaret : )