Bathing & Connection
Volume 03.
Kimberley Grant

BAINA's series, Bathing & Connection, explores how the ritual of bathing can nurture the relationship with self or others. Intrigued to uncover how the act of bathing can foster connection, we spoke to three individuals who regularly add this restorative practise to their routine to re-connect with themselves, or their community.

Residing at the gateway to the Scottish Highlands, Kimberley Grant, contributing author of Wild Guide Scotland, nurtures a deep connection to the outdoors. Engaging in solitary wild swimming and immersing in natural bodies of water is a ritual that Kimberley practises frequently, pursuing the endorphin rush that accompanies each changing season.

Kimberley shares how the practise of wild bathing allows space for reconnection, a pause, and time for self. How the act offers a fresh perspective and connection to nature that only wild bathing can bring.

"Wild swimming is one of my favourite ways to reset and take some time for myself. I love the perspective you get of the surrounding landscape—being able to swim beneath overhanging trees and birds, between smooth rocks in a river gorge or along a bank covered in wildflowers. It’s a wonderful way to find that essential connection to nature.

Afterwards I sometimes head to Braan Sauna — a woodfired sauna my partner and I built last year on the River Tay. It’s a great way to warm up again, especially after a winter swim."

ABOVE: Braan Sauna

"A particular favourite moment of my bathing ritual is after the first stroke in the water, when my body is fully immersed. The initial shock from the cold is often followed by a surge of adrenaline. It’s exhilarating and addictive, sometimes almost euphoric. Negative or intrusive thoughts seem to dissolve, achy joints feel numb and weightless. I love it."

"The initial shock from the cold is often followed by a surge of adrenaline. It’s exhilarating and addictive, sometimes almost euphoric."

- Kimberley Grant

"I often experience a rush of endorphins after a swim, it’s a real natural high. My mood is brighter and once wrapped up in my towel, my body often starts tingling all over as it warms up again and the blood flow returns to normal. These feelings combined with the sense of accomplishment after a swim are ones I always look forward to.

I think that the way cold water swimming clears my mind and gets rid of ruminating thoughts certainly makes room for more positive reflection. Being in the water also means I’m away from work and my phone so there are no distractions."

"I’m so lucky to live at the gateway to the Scottish Highlands in a landscape full of forests, freshwater lochs and beautiful rivers. I have a few favourite wild swimming spots that I visit regularly close to home. Sometimes I swim with friends or my partner, other times I go on my own or with my dog Rum who also loves the water.

When on my own I always pick a safe, familiar spot that I know well. I wear something cosy and sometimes bring a flask of tea. Even when I know the place very well, I still evaluate the area and check where I’ll get in and out of the water – the environment can drastically change depending on the weather conditions, especially after and during heavy rains.

My favourite time to go for a dip is after a long day working on my computer or when I’m feeling a little low or irritable. I usually have a bit of pent-up, restless energy before I enter the water– a mixed feeling of needing to shake something off, as well as bracing myself for the cold."

Above: Kimberley captured by Richard Gaston for Wild Guide Scotland.

"I sometimes swim with other women in the area and think it’s a lovely way to get to know each other. Hyping each other up before you enter the water, looking out for each other once you’re in swimming and sharing that moment of appreciation for the beautiful place we all live definitely creates a bond."

"There are a couple of things that pull me towards my bathing ritual. That craving for a total reset and connection with nature definitely draws me in. Knowing how good it makes me feel and how it further builds my appreciation for the surrounding landscapes and wildlife. Or sometimes it’s simpler than that—my partner or a friend might suggest we head down to the river on a hot summer’s day."

Above: Isle of Mull captured for Wild Guide Scotland.


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