Descending from the summit of Braeriach, my stomach churns with excitement as I peer down to catch my first glimpse of Loch Coire an Lochain. A few more steps and there it is, a dark, glistening body of water emerging from the steep-sided coire in front of me. I stop for a minute and drink in the spectacular view, watching the patterns of light and wind dance across the surface of the water below.
Nestled in Braeriachs' Northern Corries, Loch Coire an Lochain is a hidden jewel among mountain lochs. Remote, rarely visited and surrounded by large snow patches (even in the middle of summer), it is one of the highest named stretches of water in the British Isles at around 1000m above sea level.
Reaching the water’s edge I change into my swim kit (costume, hat, goggles, neoprene socks and gloves) and stand at the waters edge giddy with anticipation. As soon as I step into the water I feel the needle-sharp chill of the snowmelt water on my skin. I focus on my breath, moving slowly and carefully forwards into the loch until I am fully submerged.
At first, the cold feels all-consuming, but after a couple of minutes, the feeling turns into a pleasant numbness across my entire body. I take another deep breath and look around. Underwater visibility is exceptional, the water is crystal clear. The deeper areas appear a stunning sapphire blue colour.
I spend a while exploring the magical underwater world, diving deep down into the blue and marvelling at the perfect clarity of the water. I float on my back, look up at the blue sky and watch the clouds drift by.
I get out of the water and turn back to face the magnificent coire. The wind hits me and my whole body tingles with the cold. I feel totally alive. A perfect mountain loch swim!