The Hurly Burly

Saturday 29th September, 2018

Vivienne Rickman Poole
Enter The Hurly Burly

Bwrlwm Bermo/ The Hurly Burly

Cymdeithas Nofio Awyr Agored/ The Outdoor Swimming Society

29 September 2018

This unique event brings swimmers and runners from all over the country to the edge of the Snowdonia National Park in North Wales – Expect wild weather, wide open spaces, a stunning landscape and a tidal push that is into bore category. This Autumnal celebration embraces the change of the seasons: bring on the firepits, blackberries, pumpkins, gorse and empty beaches. Skin swimmers welcome.



Our swims are always about the journey (the only race is with yourself) and what a journey this is! It’s taken us 7 years of looking to find a swim route that rivals the Dart, and this is it.

Set in a North Wales on the edge of Snowdonia, this swim is the most beautiful we have ever found. It starts on the sandy beach of Barmouth, and takes swimmers underneath Barmouth Bridge, a mile and an iconic half wide railway bridge. The first part of the swim is up the wide and sandy estuary (hopefully with the wind behind us) with mountains on either side, and then it’s through ‘the narrows’ and into a more sheltered part of the estuary.

The whole swim takes place on a fast, incoming Spring tide that works like a bore to assist your swim. Past the narrows the water speeds up further, and the landscape becomes pastoral, the banks closer to you.

The swim ends at Penmaenpool, where we will get changed, gather for hot food and to warm up on fire pits, and celebrate.

Hurly Burly 2017, Vivienne Rickman Poole
Hurly Burly 2017/ Vivienne Rickman Poole


The 11K run takes place at the same time as the swim, so at some point in the course you will see swimmers in the estuary beside you. The route will take you from Barmouth Beach, over the iconic Barmouth bridge then flanks the estuary all the way to Penmaenpool. Perfect for supporters who might not be water lovers but would like to get in on the action.


A 11K run followed by the 10K swim for those of you keen for a double challenge. You will be bused to Penmaenpool to join the Mawdacch Trail, run 11k to the swim start in Barmouth alongside the banks of the estuary and across the Barmouth Bridge, then swim back under it with the other swimmers on the incoming tide. This is a long run before a long swim: you can run in your running clothes, change and have a drink before setting off with the other swimmers (there is likely to be a small time gap between the two events giving time for this to happen, and swimmers to depart together).

A long run before a long swim requires good nutrition! The founder of, Mike Alexander, offers advice in ‘Survive’ so you don’t let running cramp your style. Please read!

APPROXIMATE TIMINGS (very approximate)

  • Friday night registration is available around tea time – it’s an early start on Saturday so make it if you can! Solo travellers and social swimmers: we’re making a plan for a suppertime meet (come back for details).
  • Saturday registration will be early (7ish)
  • Run-swimmers will board coaches in Barmouth between 7-8am
  • Swimmers and run-swimmers will leave Barmouth for their swim around 9.30am.
  • Runners will leave Barmouth after 9.30am.
  • Spectator coaches will take spectators to the event finish when around 10am (there is NO parking at the finish).
  • All participants will be reunited at the event finish around midday, where we’ll celebrate with food and fire pits. Coaches will returning people back to Barmouth for the next few hours.

Vivienne RIckman Poole: Hurly Burly Swim Run
Vivienne Rickman Poole
Vivienne Rickman Poole


Those ready for a wild, autumn adventure…

All swimmers will need to be acclimatised to outdoor swim temperatures by the day, and to have experience of chop and open water. Take a peek at the Dart 10K training manual, we will have Hurly Burly one coming in the New Year.

The Hurly Burly is only suitable for swimmers who can sustain a 35-minutes-per-mile/ 22 min-per-km pace in open water or pool without big push offs. If you swim slower than this you risk running out of time to complete the swim before the tide turns.

The swim is for over 16s. If under 18 you must have parental consent.

Vivienne Rickman Poole
Vivienne Rickman Poole


If you or your supporters would like to be part of the Hurly Burly team please get in touch, from run marshals to registration, tea makers to time keepers, these events would not happen without you!

By joining the #OSSteam the rewards include free meals, merchandise, and guaranteed early-bird access to event tickets for the following year. If you or your supporters would like to be involved, please read this Hurly Burly Volunteer Factsheet – we look forward to hearing from you.

Contact to join the event as a volunteer.


Skin swimmers are welcome at the Hurly Burly by application. If you swam in skins in 2017 you do not have to re apply in 2018.

Permission is granted on the basis of prior proven experience of swims of this length and temperature, whether undertaken personally or as part of an event, and on the basis of current training. In granting permission to swim in skins, we are looking for evidence of similar prior experience and/or a recent monitored two hour swim in similar temperature water. Please note that non-wetsuit permission cannot be guaranteed at entry because it depends on current training. Tickets are therefore sold as “wetsuits compulsory”. Non-wetsuit application forms are found in your ticket confirmation email and must be returned by 10th August. We then consider your application within a week and communicate our decision back to all applicants.

Not all applications are permitted, and if yours is rejected you will need to swim in a wetsuit. Why? To keep you safe. Only those who have undergone a steady and committed programme of acclimatisation will be able to do a swim of this length in skins. Because safety cover is shared, rather than one to one, the Hurly Burly is not the place to test out your endurance to cold for the first time. If you are not given permission you will need to swim in a wetsuit or transfer your ticket to another swimmer ending on 31 July. If you do not have your wetsuit on or permission for a skin-swim granted in advance, you will not be able to swim.


The Hurly Burly is a wetsuit event. All swimmers are to wear a full length, ankle-to-wrist neoprene swimming wetsuit unless permission has been been sought and granted by the events team before 10th August (see skins, above). If you want to wear any variation of a full length, ankle-to-wrist neoprene swimming wetsuit (eg no arms, short legs) then please apply to the event manager using the skins form stating your current training in this suit. Please do not attempt a 10k in a surf wetsuit – the drag, buoyancy and comparative lack of flexibility will make your life unnecessarily difficult.


Most people swim front crawl, the wind and tide will make for some choppy conditions so we suggest that breaststroke is probably not a great idea on this swim.


We welcome and can generally accommodate swimmers with physical disabilities who would like to swim/run. It is essential that those with disabilities, or any concern about their ability to take part in this event, should seek their doctor’s advice before taking part. Those with physical disabilities who would like to swim or run should email the event manager prior to registration, and will be accommodated within the existing safety provision wherever possible (no separate arrangements can be made).


OSS events are tow-float free. We have ample safety cover who watch swimmers via their brightly coloured hats. Tow floats makes sighting swimmers harder, by doubling the number of brightly coloured objects in the water, and may entangle other swimmers. It is sometimes stated that tow floats make retrieving an unconscious swimmer easier, however they are not tested or rated to act as a safety device in this way.

Snorkels and fins are not permitted as the hard edges risk injuring other swimmers at the swim start in particular. Most swimmers with personal medication tuck it up the sleeve of their wetsuit. If this doesn’t cover your needs and you want to use a tow float for the purpose please contact the event manager.


After 31 July, your ticket is yours to keep and no transfers are possible. Cost for transfer is £20

Although this is wild swimming event we do have to draw the line somewhere, and although every effort will be made to go ahead , if the safety team deem the risk of loosing sight of swimmers too high, the event may be cancelled. If this unlikely situation does arise, no refunds will be given.

Taking out event insurance that would allow refunds or a replacement event in this unlikely situation would add significantly to the ticket price and the view has been taken that it is better to have a lower ticket price and small risk. Please see our Event Terms for more information. Your travel insurance may provide some coverage in this scenario (check your small print!)



The Pioneer year of the Hurly Burly would not have taken place without the positive response from the local community and council.

Particular thanks go to:

Merioneth Yacht Club, Snowdonia National Parks, Gwynedd Council, The George 3rd Hotel and Gail Hall.


OSS events are all supported by a few organisations that love what we do and help us grow. Thanks to these for supporting a brand new event!

Graham Wynne
Graham Wynne
Graham Wynne
Graham Wynne
Graham Wynne
Graham Wynne
Graham Wynne
Graham Wynne


Swimmers are free to raise money for any charity (or none). In 2018 our primary charity partner is Level Water

Level Water is a young and fast growing charity who’s fortunes were changed overnight by involvement in the Dart10k 2016. The charity provides one-to-one swimming lessons for disabled children across the country.  “We teach them the basics then help them to join mainstream lessons and competitive clubs.


Enter The Hurly Burly