Highlands & Islands

Film-maker's passion for wild swimming

Loch Coire an Lochain Image copyright Calum Maclean
Image caption Calum Maclean at Loch Coire an Lochain in the Cairngorms

A film-maker and photographer is sharing his passion for wild swimming in Scotland's cold rivers, lochs and seas.

Calum Maclean, from Inverness, makes films and vlogs of his swims and posts them online and also to the website, BBC The Social.

Spar Cave Image copyright Alasdair Maclean
Image caption Calum Maclean on a wild swim at the Spar Cave on Skye

His efforts to seek out new places to explore is also the feature of a new series of TV programmes to shown on Gaelic language channel BBC Alba from this week.

For Into the Water (Dhan Uisge in Gaelic), Mr Maclean was filmed at locations in the Highlands, islands and Argyll.

River Douchary Image copyright Calum Maclean
Image caption Many of the film-maker's swims are in stunning Highlands and Islands landscapes, such this pool on the River Douchary

They included Loch Maree in Torridon, Sanna in Ardnamurchan and a swim between Seil and the island of Luing in Argyll.

Before attempting challenging swims at sea, Mr Maclean checks information on tides and currents, and draws on local boatmen's knowledge of the waters.

The wild swimmer said: "I never jump straight into cold water - so always acclimatise for a minute first.

"It's the first 90 seconds that take your body to get used to it, to help avoid cold water shock."

Calum's secret spot Image copyright Calum Maclean
Image caption This Scottish location the swimmer calls his "secret spot"
Allt Daraich, Skye Image copyright Calum Maclean
Skye's Torrin Pools Image copyright Calum Maclean

He added: "Like I say in one of the programmes, I always assess first: how deep is it, how cold is it, are there hidden dangers under the surface such as rocks or branches?

"Also, where can I get out, is there a current, or a rip tide?

"And though I sometimes swim alone - I am experienced at it, and I know my limits. I always get out before you feel cold."

However, Mr Maclean said there are also places in Scotland where most people should be able to swim safely.

Mr Maclean said: "There's a boom in wild swimming at the moment.

Calum Maclean in Loch Loyne Image copyright Calum Maclean
Image caption Mr Maclean, pictured in Loch Loyne in the Highlands, shares his passion for wild swimming in online films and vlogs
Loch Coruisk Image copyright Calum Maclean
Image caption A recce with a film crew at Loch Coruisk on Skye for the new TV programme on BBC Alba

"It's very popular now in Scotland and England - in fact all over the world; groups are forming on social media to help people find out about the best natural swimming pools and go swimming together.

"I think the reason it's so big now is because it becomes addictive - you go once and then you've just got to go again."

Loch Migdale Image copyright Calum Maclean
Image caption A swim in Loch Migdale in Sutherland
Achmelvich beach Image copyright Calum Maclean

The images featured in this story include stills from the new programme, starting on BBC Alba on Thursday night, and Mr Maclean's own photography.