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GO WILD IN PORTUGAL

Edwina Pitcher, author of the new Wild Guide to Portugal, shares her favourite spots in the wild swimming paradise of Europe.

With good rainfall coming in from the Atlantic, and a varied series of mountains, canyons and uplands, Portugal’s freshwater dips are some of the best for wild swimming in Europe. Combine this with a set of paradise islands, and a wild and varied coastline stretching right down to the Mediterranean, plus great value food, drink and accommodation, and you can understand why Portugal is a perfect place for a summer wild swimming adventure.

Ponte de São João, Rio Coura, (North of Porto)

A scrabble down a steep stony track through woodland yields a vast azure pool surrounded by smooth granite rocks. You can dive from these rocks, swim into quartz caves and plunge under the gushing waterfall. The mountain water, springing from the monastery of São João, is so pure that the light filters through to the bottom in dancing sunbeams. There is a legend that the many covas or pits in the landscape around here were formed by two giants as they threw a blacksmith hammer between one another. This hidden pool is one such pit and, with its enchanted air, it’s easy to believe fantastical legends.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

Welcome to our training special! Whether you have signed up for your first open water event or are planning an endurance challenge we have a plan for you – turn to page 44 for our one mile, 5k and 10k training schedules. We also have an intensive 10k DIY training camp for more advanced swimmers, as well as advice on how to successfully swim 24 miles in 24 hours and train for a swimrun event. Plus, our resident Olympian Cassie Patten answers your training queries and Total Immersion head coach Terry Laughlin trains your brain as well as your body. And if you haven’t yet signed up to an event to train for, check out our full listings starting on page 80. Outdoor swimming isn’t all about chasing that PB though. We hear from self-confessed dipper Joe Minihane about how wild swimming helped cure his anxiety and Ella Foote swims with Tessa Wardley, the author of a new book on mindfulness and swimming. And Jenny Landreth delves into the history books to explore the advice given to female swimmers in the 19th century. Enjoy the magazine and happy swimming.
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