THOSE last times.... we all of us have memories our minds keep running back to in these social distancing times. The last time we gathered, last time we swam together, the last drive to a beach. One of mine is the post-swim hot tub at the Scottish Winter Swimming Championships in the chilly waters of Loch Tay – around 30 of us crammed in there, many in fancy dress, some in swim make-up, a great, crowded bath of joy.

I’ve swum wild once off the nearby beach since lockdown started and it’s one of the things I miss most. So, this stuck-inside guide is both for people like me who are craving the freezing waters, and for others who maybe have never tried wild swimming, but always fancied it. Scotland not only has many incredible lochs, rivers, waterfalls and coastal waters to swim in – it also has a rich offering of books and films that can take you to them in your mind. If you want the full wild swim effect, you can always take a cold bath while reading them.

The ice breakers. How Scotland's ice swimmers taught me to love the cold.

What to watch Any film featuring Calum Maclean, the superstar of Scottish outdoor swimming who brought us, on BBC The Social, the Guide To Water Temperature – so no one can go into icy Scottish waters without hearing Calum’s voice yelling through our heads the words “Baltic”, “hoora cold” or whatever else seems appropriate. A favourite of mine is his film of swimming in ice-covered Loch Coire na Lochan, Scotland’s highest loch, in spring. Maclean’s Dan Usighe for BBC Alba, saw him swimming in some startling locations, a highlight being his plunging naked, and wet-suited, in the Falls of Acharn in “search of salmon”. Check out the images in his Covid-era great bathtub swim tweet too. “A potentially treacherous swim,” he describes, “surviving Shower Falls & avoiding ‘The Plughole’.”

We’re not short, though, of great films about wild swimming. You can also, for a shot of wonder, dive into the short film, Chasing The Sublime, which follows Outdoor Swimming Society’s Kate Rew and Kari Furre, as they swim the stunning Loch Hourn on the Knoydart Peninsula.

Those now romanticising going for a big ocean swim, might want to watch the Scottish episodes of Ross Edgley’s Great British Swim. On one occasion, before getting back in the water, he muses, “You know that there are jellyfish out there. You probably know that you’re going to get stung in the face – but you don’t know when, how many times, or also how badly.”

What to read There are a great many books that give us words to float on, pages to swim through, in these times. It just happens that two of the best are memoirs of swimming off the Orkney Islands. “By swimming in the sea,” writes Amy Liptrot, “I cross the normal boundaries. I’m no longer on land but part of the body of water making up all the oceans of the world, which moves, ebbing and flowing under and around me. Naked on the beach, I am a selkie slipped from its skin.”

If you’ve not yet read the Amy Liptrot’s exquisite The Outrun, then, whether you’re a swimmer or not, do so now. This extraordinary book is part addiction memoir, charting her drinking days and sobering up at Alcoholics Anonymous groups in London, part journey through and with nature, as she lands back on her home island of Orkney and revives through her connection with the landscape there.

Also taking us to the waters off Orkney – in this case the Sands of Evie – Victoria Whitworth’s Swimming With Seals is both an extraordinary story of swimming through loss and crisis, and also an exploration of history and myth, of the way the landscape connects us to human and pre-human time. Like Liptrot she is entranced by selkies. “The shape-shifting selkie, “ writes Whitworth, “offers me a narrative that makes sense of my tangled life when nothing else does. Swimming out into their space gives me the release I seek, beyond the line of surf. A different way of being human, a freedom unavailable on land.” How we yearn for that freedom now.

The stuck-insider guide. How to let your mind fly to the Bass Rock

What images to look at Anna Deacon’s infectious photos in the book I wrote, in collaboration with her, Taking The Plunge: The Healing Power Of Wild Swimming For Mind, Body And Soul. I find myself now picking it up to just take a flick through it in a way I never did before – just to catch a glimpse of someone breaking out from under the ice of a frozen loch, diving across a thundering waterfall, or the daft joy of people doing handstands in the sea, at night. It’s a reminder of the other thing about wild swimming that is so compelling – the community, the people, the gatherings and swim family adventures. That, more than anything is what many of us are missing now.

What to go back to If you haven’t read Roger Deakin’s Waterlog, the seminal wild swimming book by the man who made an aquatic journey around England, Wales, and Scotland, via seas, rivers, ponds, and lakes, then you are blessed to still have this ahead of you. Waterlog is a classic of nature writing published in 1999 that takes in many of Scotland’s waters – for instance this swim off Glenbatrick on Jura, in which he takes in the wildlife. “I swam," he writes, "on the rising tide, keeping an eye on my rucksack, like a milestone on the beach, as I drifted perceptibly up the loch. Two seals watched me idly from one of the rocks that stand out everywhere like crocodile's teeth until the tide conceals them. There were otters here too.” He even has a good tip for avoiding the midges. “Meditating, on the sea, I remembered the best solution to the problem, slid stealthily into the cool loch, and circled about in the pink and purple wavelets. Midges respond to the heat of the body, so cooling is a sound strategy.”

What to listen to Downstream, a podcast produced by Outdoor Swimmer magazine and presented by Jonathan Cowie and Ella Foote, featuring swim authors reading from their books – Libby Page reading from The Lido, Katherine May from the Wintering, Tom Gregory’s A Boy In the Water.