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Official: I've seen how 2014 will begin...as a (freezing cold) loony dooker

Early loony dookers took to the Firth of Forth at South Queensferry near Edinburgh today to promote the New Year's Day event which kicks off Scotland's Year of Homecoming. HeraldScotland sent GILLIAN FURMAGE for an early bath

Picture: Stewart Attwood
Picture: Stewart Attwood

Okay, so I'm going to be honest. I'm a wimp. I hate being cold. I loathe being damp. I get grumpy when my hair is frizzy and will go to extreme lengths to avoid being outside if I think it's going to rain.

So, as you can imagine, I wasn't exactly looking forward to getting into the North Sea. In December. In Scotland.

Many loony dook revellers wear colourful fancy dress, and many wear next to nothing. I opted for a baggy t-shirt, shorts, bikini and wellies (although my feet got soaked anyway).

As expected, the water was freezing and the rocks under foot were incredibly slippy.

Once you're in, though, you do feel a sense of achievement. Yes, it's freezing and yes it's crazy, but there's something so funny and refreshing about the situation that you can't help but laugh at yourself.

A sell-out event of 1100 people will do this together on New Year's Day, in all their eccentric finery. And that spectacle and the atmosphere must be like nothing else.

It's a recipe that's worked for 25 years already, raising tens of thousands of pounds for charities across the UK.

As sceptical as I had been, doing something that scares you a little bit, that brings you together with your friends and makes you part of a community, all set against the stunning backdrop of the Forth Rail and Road Bridges, I am beginning to understand why so many descend on South Queensferry on January 1.

Bizarre, cold, damp and hilarious: in its own way, the loony dook is the perfect Scottish start to 2014.

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