Angus McChesney – Adventure Wild Swimming in the New Forest

Angus and Annabel are a power couple. Their power is getting good-stuff done. Their CV’s are a long list of achievements which include multiple successful businesses and entrepreneurial social projects. Almost all involve the water.

Annabel (maiden name Eyres) was an Olympic Rower (Barcelona ’92), runs a yoga studio, is a skilled artist, and supports the adventure swimming business. Angus was a housemaster at Radley for years and his post-covid focus is here in the New Forest, with the Iconic Swims business.

Iconic Swims are one of those special ideas that connect people to nature. And it really works. The idea is to take people by foot or boat, to amazing places where they can swim. The “bucket list” swims tend to be out on the Solent waters. Top on our list is the Needles Lighthouse swim here in the Solent.

Angus writes a good blog – read about why the set the business up here. 

Rachel Smith, who is our ‘House Captain’ at New Forest Escapes, swam with the McChesneys in summer 2021.

” Swimming under the Needles, it was an amazing moment. An absolute WOW!  I’m not a big swimmer and had to work up to the day, practicing with Angus and crew.  It was a magical day that I was chuffed to be part of “.

The Isle of Wight Needles Swim – 1 day – for experienced wild swimmers only.

Leaving at 8-9am and back at 3-4pm the day starts by boat from Keyhaven. The day is tailored to the groups needs and you’ll need to be flexible about how it pans out. The weather, tides and sea conditions rule the roost here.

Travelling by boat means there is huge flexibility about how much you swim. Angus is good at managing expectations, and they do occasionally have to cancel. The boat has a swim platform for easy in/out access. Experienced and super fit swimmers can do more, than others who want to be more leisurely.

You’ll head out on the RIB to the Needles area and spend the day exploring the area. Usually there is a long swim first, to the caves, around the Needles, then coffee and cake on the boat, at some point involving an ace picnic lunch on a secluded beach. You might see seals.

They recommend a curious attitude to deep water swimming  – and a good pair of googles – you can see lots underneath you. Some days when the water is choppy and cloudy then swims will be shorter, on clear and fine days, you’ll be able to see masses. If you’re a confident sea swimmer you’ll know this already! Rachel Smith says, ”

I had done enough swimming after the big swim around the Needles, others wanted to swim more, so after lunch they swam from Totland to Colwell and we followed on the boat.”

Wild swim confidence building/training

For the day swims, Angus recommends that people are experienced wild (preferably sea) -swimmers already. If not, you can join their weekly training sessions locally.  These tend to happen at the coast between Keyhaven and Highcliffe.

Walk & Swim Guided Swims

There are some lovely moments to be had with the Walk+Swim sessions they offer. So if you’re not as confident as heading off into the deep, try the 2 mile walk out to Hurst Castle and a swim in the lagoon out in the Solent. It’s a beautiful spot and there are some gorgeous beaches here. Very few use this area because it’s not easy access, the nearest car park is 2 miles away and much of the water here is dangerous to swim in. But Angus knows the area and will take you to the quiet and safe spots.

The pair live in Tiptoe, in a rambling old house, and host yoga and wild-swim retreats, spoiling people with lovely cooking and the lived-in look. Annabelle’s granny was Norwegian, got married in India in Bombay Cathedral and came back to live in Tiptoe. Post war the village was home to plenty of Majors and Vice Marshalls. It’s a jolly good show there in Tiptoe and certainly it is with these lovely two, too!

FYI – They are considering swim training and a form of tailored adventure swims for families. One parent-one child swims that are focused on building confidence. They can also offer swim coaching for Triathlon prep.

Please book direct and don’t forget to BYO wetsuit!