The Douglas Dook, Arran

This year RBJ and I spent New Years with a big group of friends and family in Arran, an island off the west coast of Scotland. We celebrated Hogmanay with a dinner party at our cottage, followed by drinks and dancing at the fabulous Pier Head Tavern in Lamlash. Then on New Years Day, we took the plunge and joined in the Arran tradition known as the “Douglas Dook”.

A “dook”is a dip or swim in open water without a wet suit. The tradition in Arran first started about 5 years ago when guests visiting the Douglas Hotel in Brodick decided to go for a new years day dip. Since then, every 1 January at 12pm a group of 30-40 residents and visitors hoping for an instant hangover cure, take the plunge into the icy cold waters of the Firth of Clyde.

We arrived at the hotel at 11.30 to be greeted with a clipboard and disclaimer form, a not so reassuring start!!

We dropped our bags in the hotel bar, which was filled with equally uneasy/ hungover looking would-be dookers! Then just before 12, with our cossies under our clothes and clutching our towels, we grouped together and along with a large number of supporters, started the stroll down to the seafront lead by a six-person Chinese dragon!


Although it was a beautiful clear day, the wind was icy cold and suddenly the reality of what we were about to do hit in!! However before we had time to think about it, the dragon had approached the sand and began a steady saunter into the freezing water. We stripped off to our swimmers and without another thought, ran into the water! And here is the evidence to prove that we did actually do it:

and that we retreated very quickly after (!!!) :

The freezing water made my hands and toes tingle instantly and left us all gasping and numb. But with it came a sense of exhilaration and an instant adrenaline rush!

With a great sense of achievement for doing it (and surviving to tell the tale!), we all went back to the Douglas to get dressed and enjoy a mug of “Dookers Soup”.

As it turns out, the Douglas Dook is one of many festive swims for the brave/ foolish/ masochists among us, with others taking place all over the country. It was a lot of fun, plus it proved to be an incredible hangover cure and a great way to clear away the cobwebs after an overly indulgent Christmas break!!

The SSS review:

COST: 5/5 – Free to those who are barmy enough to give it a go! Plus the hotel throw in a complimentary cup of soup after 🙂

CLEANLINESS: 5/5 – The water was crisp and clean


The “Loony Dookers”

UPDATE: We have since found out that we made the local Arran press at the Dook – fame at last!!



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