Winter Wonderland

OSS Ambassador Calum Maclean on some of his favourite dips from December and January

Alasdair Maclean

A recent cold snap brought snow right across Scotland, and particularly to the Highlands. The white stuff covered forests, roads, lochs. Since last winter was mostly a non-event with barely any snow, I was determined to make the most of it! I was lucky to be travelling about Scotland so managed to dip in a variety of stunning locations – was this Scotland, or Narnia?!

 Despite the idyllic appearance, the weather was occasionally very wild: snow and ice actually scuppered a few planned swims. The snowfall on the minor road to Glen Etive had been so much that I could not drive down it, and with no gritters servicing the area, we had to continue on. Lochindorb was fully frozen, my planned swim to the castle had to be delayed!

Here are some of my favourite dips from December and January, places I can highly recommend when it’s wintery weather!

All of these swims are plotted on the wildswim.com map – view Calum’s Winter Wonderland Collection.

Alasdair Maclean

River Blackwater

At Silverbridge/Little Garve.

Travelling to Ullapool, we pulled in to the minor road, which was covered in snow. Driving through a white, still forest was a great experience, topped off with an awesome dip. There’s a variety of river pools here, the challenge was finding one that was accessible! Snow-covered rocks and icey water edges make the walk/shuffle down a bit precarious. The searingly-cold water was magic, added to by the falling snow around me.

 Allt Lairig Eilde – Glencoe Waterfall

The waterfall by the road is nice…but find some solitude just a short hop away.

From the layby of The Meeting of the Three Waters waterfall, we climbed the wall and followed the burn upstream. A few false calls, but then we found. A long flowing waterfall into a crystal clear pool. BALTIC! Small icebergs floated past my head, I wasn’t in for long but it felt fantastic! Thick snow meant a slow, difficult walk in.

 Glencoe Lochan

A short walk from the carpark, another world.

Surrounded by trees, Glencoe Lochan is a little haven tucked away by the village of Glencoe. Inhabited by ducks, it lends views of the Pap of Glencoe amongst other mountains. We visited at twilight, but it’s never too late for a swim!

 Lochan an Ais

From the lochan, you get a water-eye view of the vast slopes of the mountain of Cùl Beag.

Ice-cold water, mountains all around, snow on the ground – not much more you can ask for in a winter swim! See Lochan an Ais on the map. 

Alasdair Maclean

 “Bonus:”

Lochindorb (see image above): Sometimes you just can’t swim! The time it would’ve taken to make a hole in the sometimes 3 inch thick ice wasn’t worth it but I had great fun battering away at it anyway.

See the Winter Wonderland Collection on wildswim

Calum Maclean, February 2018. Calum’s images are regularly featured on OSS Instagram – see @theoutdoorswimmingsociety and @caldamac.

Calum Maclean
Alasdair Maclean, Hannah Betts