Thursday, 20 August 2009

Wild swimming in the UK

At last the scorching summer they predicted is here, at least for a few days... When it's like this there's nothing I want to do less than sit in front of a computer and nothing I want to do more than take a dip in the sea or any other body of fresh water. Rivers, lakes, waterfalls, ponds. There's something really magical about swimming in natural water - for one, you feel much more connected to the scenery around you.

I've had a few great wild swimming experiences, including a lake in the Ardennes in Belgium and Lake Bled in Slovenia. A definite surprising highlight is the women's pond in Hampstead Heath right here in London. It's a haven of peace, a secret society of women and a corner of wildlife within a bustling city.

Here are some more wild swimming highlights in the UK:

- The mystical circular waterfall at St Nectan's Kieve near Tintagel in Cornwall: legend has it that King Arthur's knights were babtised here ahead of their quest for the Holy Grail.

- The River Dart in Dartmoor, Devon: bathe in remote river pools surrounded by steep lush forests.

- Swimming in the sea in Abereiddi Bay on the North Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales

- Taking a dip in the Moray Firth near Inverness, Scotland : a number of rivers flow into the Moray Firth and there are various bays and inlets to swim in.

For more information on wild swimming:


Saturday, 8 August 2009

Guest post by low carbon traveller Barbara Haddrill

The following is a guest post by low carbon traveller Barbara Haddrill. She is the author of Babs2Brisbane, a book documenting her overland journey from the UK to Australia in 2006:

It is strange, now, only a few hours before I embark on my next low carbon travel journey, that I feel quite calm. Considering the enormity of what is to come, I think I should be panicking a bit more. Fear was all I felt three years ago, as I was sitting in Victoria Coach Station in London, waiting to begin my overland trip to Australia, and mulling over all the possible things that could go wrong. Then my mission was to travel, without using an aeroplane, to be the bridesmaid at one of my best friend's wedding in Brisbane. In those final moments before departure, it dawned on me that this was the biggest challenge I had ever faced. But this was one I had set myself. My passion for conserving the environment was strong. I just hoped it was enough to pull me through the unknown road ahead.

Almost as soon as the coach pulled almost noiselessly into the dark autumn night, my life was changed forever. I learnt the way of the slow traveller. Having time for myself and time for other people. And time to stop and stare, watching every mile between my home in Wales and my destination in Brisbane pass slowly by. Slowing down gradually from bus to train to cargo ship, hitch hiking and finally bicycle. Instead of taking 24 hours and emitting 5 .6 tonnes of CO2, my journey took me 7 weeks and the emissions were down to 1 tonne of CO2. I succeeded in my challenge when many thought I would fail (and discussed it at great length on my travel blog But I also learnt so much, from meeting local people and seeing lives so different from my own. I learnt not to fear my worldly neighbours but approached everyone I met with an open heart and positivity and that is what I received by the tonne in return.

My next challenge is to work with horses – driving and logging. Bringing real horsepower back to our oil dependant world. I am taking the bus to pick up my coloured cob called Tyler now. She and I will hopefully enjoy the next slow life journey together.......

For more information about my trip to Brisbane and my new horse adventures look at my blog or buy the book 'Babs2Brisbane' available from most good bookshops.