The Wild Swimmer of Kintail

Kellan MacInnes author of the acclaimed mountain memoir Caleb’s List is back with a new challenge: wild swimming 28 hill lochs in Kintail, a remote and mountainous area of the Scottish Highlands, in what is a life-affirming tale about the healing power of wild swimming.

What’s the story then? Here’s the blurb for the new book…

Kellan MacInnes really wants to get away. Newly divorced, HIV positive, flat broke and with a house full of Airbnb guests driving him crazy, he badly needs to find himself again. Inspired by the little known poet and pioneer of wild swimming Brenda G. Macrow, who quit London for the Scottish Highlands in the summer of 1946, Kellan takes the night train north.

Accompanied only by a cantankerous and flatulent Labradoodle, Kellan follows in Macrow’s footsteps and sets off in search of the hill lochs of Kintail.  Hoping to find his ‘single self’ again on the way, he plans to wild swim all 28 hill lochs within the boundary of the Parish of Kintail.  Only being Scotland, half the time it’s too cold to swim, even in July, so he just washes his face or has a paddle!

The book is multi-faceted and there are many different layers to the story. As Kellan tackles the challenge of wild swimming – or at least wild paddling – the hill lochs of Kintail, he recalls scenes from the disintegration of his marriage, some funny, some poignant, some shocking.

Meanwhile a parallel narrative about Macrow’s summer in Scotland in 1946 is told in flashbacks from Kintail Scrapbook, the book Macrow wrote about her time in Kintail.

The Wild Swimmer of Kintail also contains practical information for those wishing to take on the challenge of wild swimming the 28 high-altitude hill lochs of Kintail.

Far more than a mere travelogue, much more than simply nature writing, The Wild Swimmer of Kintail tells the story of the end of a gay relationship as well as being a deeply perceptive account of what it is like being a writer. Laugh out loud in some places, painfully honest in others, The Wild Swimmer of Kintail is a life-affirming tale about the healing power of wild swimming.

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