Wild Woman Swimming by Lynne Roper

West Country paramedic Lynne Roper began swimming outdoors after recovering from breast cancer. For the next five years, until her death, Lynne kept a journal of her adventures in over sixty places across Dartmoor and the Devon coasts. This is a book for walkers, nature lovers and wild swimmers alike.

Read an extract






About the author

(c) Allan Macfadyen

West Country NHS paramedic Lynne Roper began walking and wild swimming in 2011 after recovering from breast cancer. For the next five years, she recorded in vivid detail her adventures in over sixty beautiful locations across Dartmoor and the Devon coasts. By turns solitary and communal, Lynne could spend a quiet day walking over moorland to a remote swim spot (accompanied only by wildlife and her leggy labradoodle Honey), and then be skinny-dipping by moonlight with a band of strangers-become-friends the next.

As press officer for the newly-created Outdoor Swimming Society – which now has tens of thousands of members across the world – she became a wild water midwife to a generation, encouraging others to ‘read’ water and take educated risks as she did.

Lynne died of a brain tumour on 15 August 2016, just a month after entrusting her unpublished diaries to fellow West Country writer Tanya Shadrick.


About the editor

Tanya Shadrick is a place writer and former hospice lifestory scribe who works in public spaces to encourage others to share stories and take creative risks – a practice which earned her Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts.

Her Wild Patience mile of writing – using scrolls of paper as long as the country’s oldest outdoor pool – is featured alongside her mentor David Nash’s Ash Dome in the BBC Radio 4 show Pursuit of Beauty: Slow Art. The question to those who encountered her was: When did you feel most wild and free?

During her long distance writing project, Tanya was contacted by Lynne Roper, a well-known wild swimmer, who was in her last months of life. On the strength of just a single meeting with Lynne and her writing, Tanya promised to publish her fellow West Country woman posthumously: Wild Woman Swimming is that commitment kept.

As well as her work at Pells Pool, Tanya has written on residence beside Lake Geneva as a guest of the Jan Michalski Foundation for Literature in Switzerland, at Warnham Nature Reserve in mid-Sussex, and in a tiny Grade II-listed cliffside former artists’ cabin in North Devon for the National Trust. She is the 2019 Writer-in-Residence for the Wealden Literary Festival, celebrating place and nature.