The Dales Dipper: Cold water is magic

Les Peebles is a wild swimming guide and the proud founder of a 14,000-strong community called The Dales Dippers. But that wasn’t always the case. Les used to be a joiner and a painter. He wasn’t particularly depressed or stressed in life but he felt something was missing.

In the summer of 2018 while on the way to a job in the Yorkshire Dales, he drove past Grasmere Lake. It was sparkling in the morning sunlight and it was calling to him. He promised himself that by the end of this 3-week job, he would swim in that Lake. So he did, and it changed the course of his life.

He began dipping whenever he could, meeting people from all walks of life along the way, and listening to their stories. For some, cold dipping was a hobby, for others, it helped with their grief. Some dipped to help a long-term illness and some just love the feel-good hit.

Les had always been body-conscious. The thought of getting changed in front of anyone terrified him. That was one of the more surprising things that shifted when he founded the group. “Wild swimming creates an inner strength and enables us to feel more confident in ourselves. Now I feel confident in my body and what I have.”

For Les, the water is magic. The sense of feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally weightless, bringing you back to the present, and focusing the mind on nothing but the moment. Now as a wild swimming coach, he teaches how to use water in nature safely and hopes The Dales Dippers will continue to help people get out in nature, be more courageous, and not let life hold them back.

The cold is my teacher series follows 12 amazing individuals and groups of fascinating people up and down the UK whose love of cold water has brought them together and inspired these incredible stories.
Continue exploring these fascinating stories below:

The Ice Viking

Fenwick Ridley is a titan. A Team GB Ice swimmer. An entrepreneur. A master of his mind and a lover of the ice. As he describes it, his body is “built for the cold”.

The Ice Viking The Ice Viking

Queen of the Cold

We all need a Jules King in our lives. A woman whose glass isn’t just full, it overflows with positivity. Determined. Life-affirming. Inspirational. A woman who overcomes so much every day to achieve the most simple things we can sometimes take for granted. 

Queen of the Cold Queen of the Cold

The Bluetits

“It’s much more difficult to do something that scares you when you’re alone. But when you have a community of people around you, it gets a little more comfortable for your brain to do whatever it is.” That’s how Sian Richardson, founder of The Bluetits, describes the wild swimming phenomenon she set up over 10 years ago.

The Bluetits The Bluetits

Multiple sources now prove that a practice of cold water therapy is unequivocally good for us. Here's your free guide why and how to get yours!