Wild Swimming on the River Wye

Wild Swimming on the River Wye

Wild swimming is a fabulous way of immersing yourself in nature. If you haven’t experienced it before, a tranquil swim with an expert guide on the River Wye is a wonderful way to enjoy a digital detox and spot a variety of birds, trees and wildflowers along the way. 

I arranged to meet my guide Edward on the banks of the River Wye at Lower Lydbrook in the Forest of Dean for my private wild swimming adventure with Wye Valley Swim. While I enjoy an occasional swim in the local pool, and in blue seas on holiday, I’ve never taken the plunge into an English river before. 

Feeling a little nervous, Edward soon puts me at ease. I was worried about the 2.5-mile distance, but he assures me I will be absolutely fine. “If you get tired, you can just lie on your back and float,” he says. 

A bit more confident now, I follow him down the bank and into the Wye. Clad in a wetsuit, I feel the instant chill of the water, but soon warm up as the gentle flow of the river carries me forwards. As I take my first strokes, I glance around. We are surrounded by green from the meadows and trees either side of us; their beautiful reflections all around me. 

Starting early means we have the river to ourselves.  The air is so fresh and we listen to bursts of bird song as we meander through the valley.  Edward explains, “Wildlife can always be a bit hit and miss, but if we keep our eyes open we might spot some kingfishers.”  

We keep quiet for a while and peer at the overhanging branches looking for signs of movement in the leaves. Suddenly, a flash of brilliant blue flutters over the water to give us our first incredible sighting.  

At the right time of year, it’s possible to observe Canada geese before they migrate.  Today, we are in luck.  The river is littered with these amazing birds. As we glide gently towards them, a flock of about 30 takes off and flies right overhead. They are so close I can feel the wind from their wings on my head. 

My guide says he’s previously seen peregrine falcons, which nest in the high crags on magnificent Yat rock.  We don’t manage to spot them today, but I hear the call of buzzards and count a total of five soaring overhead during our swim. 

Edward is a qualified swimming instructor and dive master. He has spent many years enjoying open-water swimming and knows this stretch of the river like the back of his hand. His knowledge and passion for nature certainly shines through. He’s chosen this particular spot because of its easy entry and exit, as well as the spectacular scenery. 

We reach the end of our swim and make our way to the bank. All that remains is a lovely walk back along the riverbank to where we started, and to devour a snack and drink to satisfy the appetite I’d worked up. 

Edward runs guided small-group swims and sets up a BBQ by the river to enjoy at the end of the swim. He can also arrange private group swims. 

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Images Copyright Sara Chardin 



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