A wild swimming adventure on the Isle of Skye: Storming a Castle, Seal Whispering and Seaweed Wigs

3  years ago the Outdoor Swimming Society (OSS) launched an OSS Adventure Series, “A series of social swims offered to OSS members, by other OSS members. They’re free, they’re wild – and they’ll take others to places (geographical, mental or physical) that they’ve never been before.”  And they were right…

Lampay Island, Isle of Skye. OSS Adventure Swim with the NWSSSG. Photo Credit: Gill Williams
Enjoying being taken to another place on the Lampay Island, Isle of Skye. OSS Adventure Swim. Photo: Gill Williams
NWSSSG Elite Commando Squad. Photo Credit: Gill Williams
NWSSSG Elite Commando Squad storming Dunvegan Castle. Photo: Gill Williams

Spaces on the swims were allocated by way of a ballot.

I had been chatting to a fellow Solent Swim Challenge swimmer, saying how I dreamt of swimming up in the isles of Scotland ‘one day’ and he forwarded the details of the Isle of Skye OSS Adventure Swim, organized by the wonderful Gill Williams, founder of the incredibly friendly North West Skye Sunday Splash Group (NWSSSG).

My heart leapt; it was time to stop talking about ‘one day’ and just do it. So I entered the ballot, and to my delight, was given a place!

Very excited to be in Scotland!
Very excited to be in Scotland!

The weekend did not disappoint. Within an hour of my arriving at Gill’s place we were out the door with our trail kit on, with RhumRhum the dog leading the charge along the cliff tops, and looking out over a bay that regularly plays host to basking sharks!

Spot the basking shark!
Spot the basking shark!

And so the weekend continued: swimming in seas and lochs, exploring underwater forests, talking to seals and birds, seaweed wigs, pink and orange sunsets, good food, good wine, wonderful art, warm hearts and laughter; so much laughter!

On the saturday we swam off the Ardmore Peninsula, on the sunday we completed our circumnavigation of Lampay Island and in the evening we went for a bracing dip off the jetty at Waternish. Then, on Monday morning, an elite commando squad of NWSSSG and OSS Adventure ladies stormed Dunvegan Castle…

Lampay Island Circumnavigation

Quite excited about the swim
Quite excited about the swim
Cormorants on Lampay Island
Post swim cuppa with the intrepid Rosie!
Post swim cuppa with the intrepid Rosie!

Seal Whispering

Over the OSS Adventure weekend we swam with a lot of seals. It was ever so slightly exciting. This is me talking to one at Lampay Island. To confirm, the narration is me, not David Attenborough, which would be an easy mistake to make.

Storming Dunvegan Castle with the NWSSSG

In the shadows of the dawn light, cloaked in seaweed wig camouflage, an elite commando swimming squad approached Dunvegan castle… I have never laughed so much on a swim before. An absolute joy, and four seals even came to join us! Thank you ladies!

NWSSSG elite commando squad selfie: Photo: Gill Williams
NWSSSG elite commando squad selfie: Photo: Gill Williams
NWSSSG surveilance. Photo credit: Gill Williams
NWSSSG surveilance. Photo: Gill Williams
Dawn raid on Dunvegan Castle with the NWSSSG commando squad
Dawn raid on Dunvegan Castle with the NWSSSG commando squad
Camouflage - you ain't seen me right...?!
Camouflage – you ain’t seen me right…?! Photo: Gill Williams

A big thank you to Gill and Ian for being such wonderful and inspiring hosts and to all the NWSSSG swimmers who made us feel so welcome. I can’t wait for our next adventure!

芙蓉出水: (fúróng chūshuǐ) Out of the water a lotus rises.

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A Lotus Rises is the swimming blog for women who love open water; from your first splash, through to wild swims and marathon swimming. We’re building a swimming collective on a mission to increase the visibility, access and participation of women in swimming and we’d love you to be a part of it. 

Many more inspirational stories, advice and adventures can be found on our Blog, and Facebook page and Instagram, – please don’t hesitate to get in touch via Twitter or  alotusrises@gmail.com. We want to share your stories, so we can support you and inspire others!

Note: This blog was first published in 2014.


  • Wow! Gorgeous write up Alice, and a top seal video. This is the first report I’ve seen about the Adventure Series, glad it was so special

    • Thank you! Yes, it was a really special weekend. I couldn’t believe the seals and other wildlife. It’s such a special place – where you live in nature, not against it. And it brought people together too. Wonderful idea from OSS to create the adventure series and Gill Williams is an absolute inspiration and a real super woman for organising. I can’t wait to go back to explore more – just incredible – the weekend embodied all that I love about open water! 🙂

      • Alice your enthusiasm comes across! I love Skye and the Western Isles. We went to Argyll in August to swim Corryvreckan, but also met up with some locals and had the most magical time. I love wild swimmers!

  • Wonderful! What an adventure – Corryvreckan sounds extraordinary – so much to explore!!! Hooray for wild swimming and wild swimmers! 🙂

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