Wild swim organised in memory of ‘Wild Lady of Lochbroom’

Edith Wild, also known as the Wild Lady of Lochbroom, is pictured rowing on the loch in her early eighties. PIC: Contributed.
Edith Wild, also known as the Wild Lady of Lochbroom, is pictured rowing on the loch in her early eighties. PIC: Contributed.
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She lived 10 miles from the nearest shop, rowed her boat until well into her eighties and could easily beat her young relatives in an arm wrestle.

Now the life of Edith Wild, who lived alone on the shores of Loch Broom for more than 30 years, is to be remembered by a special endurance event set up by her three grandsons.

Calum (left) with his brothers Robbie and Jack who have undertaken several wild swimming challenges together. PIC: Contributed.

Calum (left) with his brothers Robbie and Jack who have undertaken several wild swimming challenges together. PIC: Contributed.

They will undertake the Wild Lady of Lochbroom Expedition and swim the length of the loch - around seven miles - on August 26 in her honour.

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It is hoped that many friends and relatives of Mrs Wild, who died in March 2015 aged 88, will jump in and swim the last stretch with them.

Her grandsons, Calum, Robbie and Jack Hudson, will enter the water at Ullapool and swim to shore at the church at Clachan, where her family will lay a wreath on their grandmother’s grave.

Loch Broom. PIC:www.geograph.co.uk

Loch Broom. PIC:www.geograph.co.uk

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“It’s nice to think that we will be swimming every stroke towards our gran,” Calum said.

“We hope that there will be a lot of people on the loch side who knew gran and that as many of them as possible will jump in for the last kilometre.”

The three men are seasoned outdoor swimmers and adventurers who collectively are also known as the Wild Swimming Brothers.

Calum added: “A lot of the swims we have organised in the past have been in places such as Norway or in the Arctic but we really wanted to bring it home, do something less showy and do something more personal, something for Grandma Wild.”

Mrs Wild was a former school teacher in Kirriemuir, Angus, but headed north to Letter, Lochbroom, in 1984 following the death of her husband, Wallace, in a car accident.

The nickname ‘Wild Lady of Lochbroom’ was coined by a relative but it became just the way she was known to many.

Mrs Wild named her boat Wild Rose and would often take it out on the loch, even when her eyesight was failing, her grandson said.

He recalled a fishing trip when it quickly became clear he and a friend weren’t going to be taking the Wild Rose out on their own.

“She came to show us how to get it out the boat house. But then we realised she wasn’t just going to help us get the boat out - she would in fact be rowing us around,” Calum said.

He added: “A lot of my friend’s had grandma envy.”

One of Calum’s abiding memories of his grandmother is of her roaming through the bracken in the hills by her house with a machete in an attempt to keep the midges at bay.

He said she had lived a “very basic and simple life” close to the loch where the swimming challenge will take place in her name.

Calum said: “She was like a camel. She would exist on a diet of oatcakes.....and more oatcakes. She didn’t have a car. After my grandpa’s accident, she never wanted to drive and it was a 10-mile walk to the nearest shop.

“When we went up, we would take out for fish and chips in Ullapool. You have never seen anyone lick their plate as clean as my granny did. That was something else she instilled in us - never leave food on your plate.

“She lived a very simple and back to basics life. There was always bracken to clear or wood to chop. She’d be up at the crack of dawn in the garden or preparing a fire .

“Latterly, her eyesight had broadly gone but nothing stopped her. She could still beat us all in an arm wrestle.

“She wouldn’t flinch rowing up and down the loch. She was unbelievably strong and had no concept of slowing down or being unable to do anything.

Calum added: “She has probably had the biggest influence on me as anyone and has given me a deep love of the natural world. We would spend hours watching porpoise in the loch or trying to catch a glimpse of a Golden Eagle.

“Our granny encompassed everything that we believe in. She wasn’t chasing anything. She was just quietly contented in her place.”

He said his grandmother would probably have been the “first one in the water” at the swimming challenge on August 26, had she been alive.

As well as a fitting tribute for Mrs Wild, it is also hoped the swim will inspire people to connect with the natural world and raise awareness of work to save the Scottish Wildcat.

He added: “We feel our Grandma and the swim is a great metaphor for protecting the wild left in the world of which the Wildcat represents this perfectly.

“My grandma died suddenly and we weren’t ready to say goodbye so I think the swim will be an emotional experience - but an amazing one too. The good thing about being in the water is that no one can tell if you have been crying or not.”