Hardy Yorkshire bathers take the plunge for New Year's Day dips

The colder the water, the more inviting it was for these tough Yorkshire swimmers.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 1st January 2018, 2:45 pm
Updated Monday, 1st January 2018, 3:35 pm

Traditional New Year's Day dips took place across the county today.

Huge crowds gathered at Wharfemeadows Park in Otley to watch around 60 swimmers - including one from Texas - brave the freezing River Wharfe in memory of local swimming teacher Joe Town, who ran the event for over 25 years until his death in 2011. Mr Town had learned to swim in the Wharfe as a child.

The participants' ages ranged from nine to 72.

Joe's daughter Helen Town said:

“It was very cold - it took your breath away when you first got in and the wind got you when you came out. It’s become a tradition and we just want to keep it going for as long as we can. It’s growing more and more each year.”

In nearby Ilkley, 150 other hardy souls headed for the White Wells Spa Cottage on Ilkley Moor, where the historic plunge pool is still in use. New Year's Day is the attraction's most popular day for 'plunging'.

And there's always the North Sea - swimmers in fancy dress took to the waves at Scarborough's South Bay for the town's long-established winter dip.

Organised by the Scarborough Lions, this year’s dip featured outfits including a Christmas present, nun and mime artists.