Published On: Mon, Sep 26th, 2016

Hundreds strip off for Britain’s biggest skinny dip in freezing North Sea

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The North East Skinny Dip celebrates the first official day of autumn, also know as the autumn equinox, as well as raising money for charity

Hundreds of people stripped naked and dived into the freezing North Sea for what’s thought to be Britain’s biggest skinny dip this morning.

The North East Skinny Dip celebrates the first official day of autumn, also know as the autumn equinox, as well as raising money for charity .

This year the event welcomed the most participants ever in its five-year history as more than 400 people gathered at Druridge Bay, in Northumberland, at 5.30am.

Organiser Jax Higginson, from Sunderland, who came up with the idea after attending a similar event in Wales, told Chronicle Live : “We always have a positive response.

AFPNaked bathers enter the water as they take part in the annual North East Skinny Dip at sunrise at Druridge Bay
Naked bathers enter the water as they take part in the annual North East Skinny Dip at sunrise at Druridge Bay
REUTERSA participant in the annual North East Skinny Dip runs into the sea at Druridge Bay
A woman runs into the water during the event, which saw its biggest turnout this year

“People do it one year then come back again and again. We’ve grown every year so far – people come back with a friend.”

Jax added the idea behind doing it at dawn is to run towards a rising sun “celebrating the summer and welcoming the winter”.

Ellen Headingly, 45, did the dip last year after her friends persuaded her and came back again to experience it again.

“I didn’t want to do it last year, it isn’t something I ever thought I would enjoy at all,” she said.

REUTERSParticipants in the annual North East Skinny Dip stand and sit in the sea at Druridge Bay
The event celebrates the first day of autumn, also known as the autumn equinox
Participants in the annual North East Skinny Dip stand and sit in the sea at Druridge Bay
It also is held to raise money for mental health charity MIND

“But I managed to do it in 2015 and absolutely loved it, it was very peaceful and liberating.

“It’s quite a strong experience and I wanted to come back and do it again.”

She added that today’s rainy weather hadn’t spoilt the experience for her, either.

“It was quite clear and sunny last year – we could see the sun rising quite clearly and that hasn’t happened this year,” she said.

“It was a different atmosphere last year too. The sea was far, far calmer and it was a lot more peaceful and quiet. Because of the clear skies it was far chillier last year.”

REUTERSParticipants in the annual North East Skinny Dip emerge from the sea
It rained for the first time in the event’s five-year history this morning
AFPNaked bathers enter the water as they take part in the annual North East Skinny Dip at sunrise at Druridge Bay
A woman bares all as she sprints across the sand

Each participant registers and pays a fee of £12 before the event, which gets donated to charity.

Jax estimates about 400 people signed up to the dip, meaning nearly £5,000 has been raised.

Last year, 350 people completed the challenge and before that around 180. The event has raised more than £12,000 for mental health charity MIND since it began in 2012.

The world’s biggest skinny dip was held in Perth, Australia, in March 2015 when 786 people stripped down at South Beach to celebrate positive body image.

REUTERSParticipants in the annual North East Skinny Dip run into the sea at Druridge Bay
People gathered at 5.30am before charging into the icy waters

Reporter Helen Whitehouse went along for this year’s event…

I’ve pulled plenty of all-nighters in my time, but never have I gone straight from the club, picked up my towel and headed up to rural Northumberland to run naked into the sea to celebrate the solstice.

When I heard about the North East Skinny Dip I decided I really wanted to volunteer to do it because it’s all my worst nightmares rolled into one – and I like a challenge.

So that’s how I found myself standing on a beach with 400 other people, ready to strip off and run into the freezing sea.

And typically I managed to coordinate my first ever proper night out in Newcastle for the night before, meaning I was tired, hungover and terrified all at the same time.

REUTERSParticipants in the annual North East Skinny Dip run into the sea at Druridge Bay
Each participant registers and pays a fee of £12 before the event, which gets donated to charity

From the meander down the path towards the bay to awkwardly standing around waiting for instructions to strip off, the event cultivates a strong sense of community spirit.

None of my friends or family wanted to support me during this journey of discovery, but everyone else was in pairs or groups having a great time together.

I was quickly adopted by a group of lovely women who pepped talked me through my nerves.

As dawn broke, I felt an impending sense of dread. Would I be brave enough? Why was I wearing skinny jeans, the least easy thing to remove elegantly? A countdown began and everyone stripped off. I panicked for a second but realised it was my chance to shine and went for it.

It wasn’t too scary running towards the sea but I then faced the purgatory of actually swimming in the very cold water or standing in public without clothes on, like a bad dream.

I shouldn’t have worried, everyone was having a great time not really bothered about anyone else, more enjoying the beautiful Northumbria scenery, but still.

REUTERSTwo women walk along the beach after taking part in the annual North East Skinny Dip at Druridge Bay
The world’s biggest skinny dip was held in Perth, Australia, in March 2015

I got on with it, carrying my phone and keys because I wasn’t foraying into the water without keeping those essentials safe and I could hear my mum’s wisdom about valuables ringing in my head.

I managed a bit of a swim, got out and started to walk back towards my bag, which I couldn’t see and began to panic because everything is worse when you are cold and have no clothes on.

Managed to find it, all my clothes were covered in sand and immediately got dressed because although I now consider myself liberated, I still am not that liberated on the whole.

I also made the important observation that even though these people literally ran into the sea naked, they still did the very British getting-dressed-under-a-half-held-towel thing.

Now I am back in my comfort zone, dressed in 13 layers of clothing and on the way to get back in bed, I can say the experience is one I am glad I completed, and it makes me feel excellent knowing I contributed to MIND, the charity which all the registration fees get donated to.

The dip has raised £12,000 in five years, an amazing sum and people definitely had a lot of fun raising it.

It’s a bizarre and emotional event, one which everyone should try out. I hear from many reliable sources this sort of thing can get addictive, and there appears to be a lot of people doing the dip for the third or fourth time.

I think I might try and get involved in a fundraiser where I keep my clothes on next time, though.

 

Courtesy: Mirror

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology