The Wild Swimming Brothers - Jack, Calum and Robbie - are from the outback of northern England. They promote wild swimming, conservation and the link between creativity and the outdoors through writing, creating artwork, hosting and participating in sports events, film festivals, invitational swims, motivational talks and exhibitions and, most importantly, through swimming.
They have undertaken unique endurance swims around the world, including crossings of the world’s three most powerful maelstroms (Corryvreckan, Saltstraumen and Moskstraumen), a 9-day/90-mile River Eden swim from source to sea, a 5-hour/13 degrees celsius swim the length of Loch Broom and a crossing of the Turkish Hellespont, from Europe to Asia.
In this piece, middle brother Calum tells us about three of his favourite UK wild swims as places to add to our UK, Adventure Uncovered Map.
Loch Broom, Scotland
Our 12.8km swim down the length of Loch Broom, in the Highlands of Scotland, was memorable for many reasons.
There is a house on the steep shores of the loch called Lexie's House that is very special to us. As children my brothers and I would spend our summers visiting our Grandma Wild, racing around her coppice and hiding in the bracken.
Over the years we slowly rebuilt the ruined house on the hillside, carrying all the roof timbers, lugging the bricks and carving the steps into the hillside. We transformed the ruin into a beautiful bothy replete with compost loo, hammocks and two wood-burning fires. Some of my most treasured memories are from that house, being huddled around the kettle on the stove with my brothers or watching the clouds pass over the steep mountains from the windows.
Our Grandma Wild is no longer with us, but carved into the main timber beam are the words “Rest and Be Thankful”. Every time I go back there I pull up a seat, look out the window over the hills and think of my gran.
In 2017 we returned to Lexie's and spent over five hours crawling through the chilly loch. There were countless splayed red jellyfish, a few shy seals and stretches of some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen. Then it all ended with us at Clachan Church, where our Grandma Wild is buried, laying a wreath on her grave. There is no other swim in the world that means so much to us.
'There were countless splayed red jellyfish, a few shy seals and stretches of some of the clearest water I’ve ever seen. Then it all ended with us at Clachan Church, where our Grandma Wild is buried, laying a wreath on her grave. There is no other swim in the world that means so much to us.'
River Eden, Cumbria, England
The Eden flows slowly across the patchwork farmland of the Eden Valley. It meanders through the Vale of Eden for about 90 miles, passes the Lake District fells, winds on to Carlisle and finally pours out with the River Esk into the Solway Firth. In 2014 we sold our family home and swam the full distance, source to sea, for our Swim the Eden expedition as a way to reconnect with this area, which we grew up in.
There is a lazy stretch between the villages of Langwathby and Armathwaite that offers plenty of perfect spots for swimmers. The most popular is at Lacy’s Caves, where the sloped shelving offers entry points alongside a series of waterfalls. The caves themselves offer several unlit rooms to explore and there is even a rock stack to leap from, like a flailing Tarzan emerging from the trees, into the river.
Closer to Armathwaite the Eden widens. A shaded beach and camping area sits under Armathwaite cliff and leads down into a patch of deep water. This 18km section is a very challenging swim, and comes with a large set of rapids at Lacy's Caves, another two sets of long, crashing rapids at Armathwaite and Nunnery and a weir thrown in as well. Swimming down the rapids there is as exhilarating as it gets. It definitely requires some bravery as well as technical ability, but persevere and you'll be rewarded with one of the most incredible river swims in the UK.
'Swimming down the rapids there is as exhilarating as it gets. It definitely requires some bravery as well as technical ability, but persevere and you'll be rewarded with one of the most incredible river swims in the UK.'