Bike exploring: The New Forest
Brockenhurst New Forest Loop. Just under 12 miles of easy going forest trails and tarmac. A great all year ride, perfect for families. The route starts and stops in the pretty little town of Brockenhurst.
Blonde Two, Fi Darby, tries a new challenge as she goes wild swimming in winter.
You know what they say, ‘new year, new hobby’ except that I started my latest #GetOutside hobby a bit early for it to be a New Year’s resolution. In mid December I accepted an invitation to view the super-moon from the rather chilly and wet viewpoint of a sea swim.
As it turns out the moon wasn’t particularly ‘super’ that night, but the swim by far surpassed expectations. One dip into the salty coldness and I was hooked. I have swum in the sea most days since then. I have witnessed sunrises, floated under sunsets, peered into clear seas, crashed around in waves and attempted handstands underwater.
You would imagine reading this that I have been in sunny antipodean climes but no, this outdoor swimming is happening in the gently chilled waters of Torbay. No more sluggish lie-ins for me (well maybe a few) most mornings I jump happily out of bed, pull on my swimsuit and a variety of warm layers and head down to the beach.
My new swimming friends reliably inform me that the water will get warmer but (and this is quite a big but) it won’t start doing this until at least April. It is the cold that I love though, I am building up my resistance and have now achieved the heady heights of being able (with the aid of a flattering neoprene hat) to put my head into the water deep enough to swim front crawl and stay in for a whole fifteen minutes.
Swimming is in no way the same thing as walking but when you have Dartmoor on your doorstep the two things go together very happily. Dartmoor has a wealth of pool and river swimming spots, most of which require an Ordnance Survey map (OL28), a compass and some navigation skills to find. My Torbay map too is proving very useful, I thought I knew my home coastline well but there are hidden coves, caves and rock formations around every rocky corner and this year I am planning to swim to as many of them as I can. Don’t forget that you can use Ordnance Survey’s Map Sheet Finder to pick out the map you need for your wild swim.
So thanks Ordnance Survey, you are getting me outside in a new and unexpected way. I can recommend winter outdoor swimming but don’t go alone, take local advice on sea states and don’t stay in too long. Happy #GetOutside everybody,