Yesterday was dreich (dreary) with non-stop rain; today may be clear but it’s still very cold – and I’m taking a ‘dook’ (dip to you and me) in the North Sea. In Scotland. In November. I am frankly very worried. Will I back out at the last minute? Will I hate it? Will I embarrass myself?
Jane and Jamie of Wild Scottish Sauna meet me on Kingsbarns Beach beside their purpose-built sauna. They reassure me that this is just a ‘taster’ session, that they will be with me all the way and that I can do as much or as little as I wish.
Just then the sun comes out and a rainbow appears: I take it as a sign, hang up my clothes and head across the sand to the sea. White waves are rolling in as I do; the sea a worrying – and menacing - dark blue. But the clouds are fluffy and that rainbow glows in the sky.
The water is, of course, freezing. My feet zing after just a few moments but - with Jane and Jamie by my side - I put one foot in front of the other. And its OK. My legs tingle with the cold but I keep on walking.
Then a big wave comes and Jane shouts “turnaround”. The wave hits my back and I yelp with cold. It’s then that the cold-water headache arrives (if you have ever taken a bite of an ice lolly on a hot day and found your head feels as if it might explode, imagine that multiplied).
With the water dancing around my chest, I stand still; Jane reassures me that the headache will go, so I wait... In the end its not the cold that defeats me but the headache, which drives me back to the beach to the comfort of the toasty sauna.
Sadly, I do not achieve the full ‘dook’ - with my shoulders under the water - but I do get the euphoric high that comes as you warm up. And that’s enough to make me want to do it again.
Wild Scottish Sauna offers cold-water and sauna sessions on the wonderfully wild Kingsbarns Beach near St Andrews in Scotland for £100 for a one-hour private session. Group bookings are also available.