Plastic threatens even the most wild

Swimmers at the edge of Llyn Idwal, Snowdonia

Swimmers at the edge of Llyn Idwal, Snowdonia

Swimming in open natural water outside is a complete joy.  If you haven’t tried it, especially outside of the summer months when the water is at its coldest, we urge you to. Over recent times this awesome activity has been given the title of ‘wild swimming’, it’s hit the headlines all over the world and intrigued even the most reluctant adventurers, with an eager curiosity that pushes them just enough to see what all the fuss is about. They never look back. Like us, they get hooked with a full on healthy addiction to the after glow – a swimming thank you made up of a tingling happiness that you’re left with after a cold water swim.

Wild swimming is an escape from the chaos of day to day life, it gives you a different perspective and it’s a refreshing reminder that we are just a tiny part in this world.  We all need this, right?

Whether you’re in London, East Anglia or The Scottish Highlands, we are all blessed with beautiful open water crying out for a dunk, dip, splash or swim.  

Through our swim group Wild Swim Snowdonia, which is free and open to anyone living in Snowdonia, we’re mobilising our communities to try wild swimming, encouraging everyone to view this as an energising addition to enhancing their own health and wellbeing. We have seen everyone from all walks of life and cover ages 8 to 70 years old!  We meet up weekly to swim in cold mountain lakes, rivers and plunge pools in the heart of Snowdonia and off our long sandy beaches. People arrive dubious telling us they only like warm water and just one swim in, they are hooked like us!

If you don’t live in Snowdonia and want to join a swim group local to you, check out the Outdoor Swimming Society which has a list of UK wide swim groups. If you fancy a trip to Snowdonia and up for giving wild swimming a go, we also offer guided wild swims.  We’ll take you to a dreamy spot, help you acclimatise ready for your cold dip and then chat through the many health benefits while you snuggle around a campfire. 

Since we embarked on our wild swimming addiction (and it really is just that), we have swam in some of the most beautiful spots available on this island. One thing we take great pleasure in is watching a seal pop his head up, spot dolphins on the horizon or just the squawking Canadian geese flying low over a lake sending an echo around our mountainous rugged Welsh landscape.  

What is sadly evident though is that it’s not just us out there with the nature as we hoped and longed for.  There is a third wheel among us…plastic!  Yes the P word yet again.

Snowdonia is blow your mind beautiful but dig a little deeper and it too is being knocked by the mindlessness of our activities. Single use plastic bottles – probably everyone reading this blog and rocking their Stay Wild Swim cossies knows this is not a good thing – but we reckon there are literally hundreds sat at the bottom of our most beautiful lakes cast aside by someone fancying a day trip on a Welsh mountain. This has to stop.  

Every one off purchase of a plastic bottle ends up somewhere, yes we might recycle it or not do it very often but these tiny actions add up given our population size. And mount up here given our visitor numbers to Wales each year.  We live somewhere akin to paradise (except the water is cold!) where there is minimal obvious big scale human impact within our Welsh wild mountains, but even we are now seeing the devastation a single use plastic bottle and general litter can create.  We are destroying natural beauty and habitats. We don’t want to see plastic when we’re swimming.  We don’t want to crash through the waves, or dive to the bottom of a lake, or scramble up a section of footpath and cross paths with litter of any kind. 

So I guess our ask is a) try wild swimming and b) check out charity Surfers Against Sewage who do amazing on the ground work as well as lobbying big corporations and c) pull your friends up on single use plastic bottle use, treat them to a swanky reusable water bottle with a mindful thought about the future we are trying to preserve. 

Later this year, we are embarking on our very own Plastic Islands campaign linked to our roles as Surfers Against Sewage representatives for Snowdonia.  We will be swimming at remote islands off the coast of Wales to highlight the impact plastic pollution is having on the life on these islands and the wildlife itself.  Follow our journey via our Instagram @wildswimsnowdonia 


This article was written by lovers of water and environmental conservation, Meg and Laura - co founders of Wild Swim Snowdonia www.wildswimsnowdonia.co.uk 







Grace Bayley