Balmedie Beach

We had a superb day today. We booked one of the Co-wheels cars to try out and went to Balmedie Beach where I went for a swim in the North Sea.

We drove one of the electric cars parked very close to our home. We have a swipe card which unlocks the car from 5 minutes before the time of our booking. Ben and I are mechanically challenged and we spent a good 5 minutes rummaging through the glove box in search of the key to start it. According to the guide the keys are supposed to be in the glove box. Well, it turns out that’s just for the petrol cars. Electric cars don’t have a key as they have a push-button start. Eventually we figured this out and were able to get the car to start moving.

It felt a bit like driving a dodgem car, but without the banging into things of course, as there are no gears, no clutch and not even a proper ignition. It was very easy to drive though, very quiet and very smooth. It even came with some CDs which meant I got to boogie along to the Spice Girls which Ben was not so happy about. It’s terrific to be able to have the use of car whenever we want. The car was also very clean and it’s nice knowing we don’t have to worry about the servicing and general maintenance of it.

We went to Balmedie Beach which is only about 10 miles north of Aberdeen. It was beautiful. Golden sand for miles and miles and dramatic sand dunes along the shoreline. It reminded me a bit of Fraser Island in Queensland but much colder. The air temperature was about 7°C and the water temperature about 6°C.






For some very strange reason I have been wanting to swim in the North Sea for a little while now. I’m not sure why. I think the only reason is so that I can say I’ve done it and then blog about it 🙂 Fortunately there are no sharks or jellyfish here and I didn’t plan to go out very far so the risk of doing a Harold Holt was slim. Harold Holt was an Australian Prime Minister in the 1960s who went swimming at Cheviot Beach in Victoria and disappeared, never to be seen again. They never found his body.

Ben took lots of photos and a video just to prove I did it.







It was invigorating. I can see why people do it. I felt great afterwards and when I first got out I felt really warm. Although having said that, please excuse my language here, but it was fucking freezing and I’m not sure if or when I’ll do it again.

The kids really enjoyed the beach. They always love it even when they don’t swim. We went for a little wander and then had lunch and a hot drink at the nearby Beach Cafe which was very nice.



35 responses to “Balmedie Beach”

  1. Absolutely nuts! 🙂

    I really liked this post. You are one tough lady. I have trouble getting into the water at the cottage in July.

    This shared car experience is growing. I cycle past a new offering here in Vancouver catering to cyclists called Evo ( that features colour coordinated bike racks. I don’t think the cars are electric (that’s a good idea) but they are small.

    Nice post. 🙂

    1. Yeah, I’m nuts 🙂

      The Evo cars look very nice. It’s such a good idea, particularly when you live somewhere which doesn’t require everyday use of a car.

  2. Hey, we would have believed you!! You didn’t have to post pictures as proof!!! (Yeah sure!! )

    1. My grand kids might want to see the proof in 50 years’ time when I’m old and frail 🙂

      1. I understand about the old and frail… 😦 I have no grand kids so needed no proof. 🙂

  3. Very impressed you going into the sea without a wetsuit. I use a 5/4mm with boots, gloves and helmet for surfing down here in Cornwall. Sea temp a balmy 9.3C 🙂

    Check out the surf report for Aberdeen and sea temps throughout the year

    If you have not already planned on doing so, I’d recommend wetsuits and boots for your children for the summer months (and for yourselves as well!).
    Wave measurements are available from

    In the meantime, this is what surfing in warm water is like:


    1. I see the water temperature doesn’t change very much throughout the year with a top of about 15° in August. That’s still pretty cold.

      Wow, that woman surfing on the Gold Coast is fantastic. I’ve never been surfing before but I’m a little bit curious to try it. Maybe one day.

      1. Water temps in Cornwall don’t get much above 16C in a normal summer but can reach 20C in a hot summer and the tide coming in over warm sand.

        If you want to give surfing a try, I’d suggest a bodyboard rather than stand up surfing. You catch waves a lot easier and don’t have to worry about balance on your feet. Bodyboards are fantastic for younger children as they can have a lot of fun and the board is forgiving enough but can still give a bit of a clout. If you want to try stand up surfing, I’d suggest trying out a surf school. I’d guess they have one in Aberdeen. You could ask at the local surf shop

        1. I grew up in Brisbane and we spent many summers holidays riding the waves at Mooloolaba on a body board so that I have done. I think this is reason I’m not that keen on the beach now: too many summers of getting sunburnt and dumped by waves.

  4. Loon! Swimming in Scotland is not a sport but a torture. Have you seen the film What we did on our holiday? If you haven’t, catch it and learn from the children in it – and they are on the west coast with the benefit of the gulf stream! Lovely post though and I must look into these shared car thingies.

    1. Yep, a loon, that’s me 🙂

      I haven’t seen that film but it looks like something I might like. I’ll have a to get a copy.

  5. Well Done! Sheesh it looks cold! I well remember that grey looking sea! I swam in a loch once – and that was icy – but I was a kid, so I don’t think it counts!
    Sounds like a lovely day out – and I’m happy to hear the car system worked well. 🙂
    btw I wrote a comment earlier about red squirrels, on your pine marten post, as I remembered to ask my sister where she saw one. 🙂

    1. It was rather cold 🙂 But fun too and I enjoyed it more than I was expecting.

      I did get the red squirrel comment, thank you! I’ll have to wait for our holiday on the West Coast.

  6. Was on the North Sea today canoe surfing & general paddling, but toasty in a dry suit and fleeces!

    1. How nice! I should have waved to you. It was a lovely day for it today.

  7. I wholeheartedly agree with Ben’s comment: “Absolutely nuts!” Had a good laugh over that. Love the photos and the film. You are amazing. Balmedie Beach is lovely. Perhaps next time you go, you can tobaggan down the sand dunes.

    It would be wonderful to have shared cars here but doubt we’ll see that happening for a while. I suspect shared cars would work best where public transport is also good. It’s absolutely abysmal here. Congratulations to you and Ben for working out how to get the car started! 🙂

    1. Yeah, I think shared cars are probably best in a compact city where you can walk everywhere, like Aberdeen. The cars are parked all over the city and they’re all within walking distance of our house.

  8. I should get behind the wheel of an electric car some time.

    Hopefully your beaches doesn’t have these nasty things called rips that are prevalent in NZ beaches. Take care.

    1. I was wondering about rips too and I actually don’t know whether it’s a problem here. I didn’t notice any but I didn’t go out very far. There weren’t any warning signs on the beach either but perhaps that’s because they don’t expect anyone to go swimming! There wasn’t anyone else in the water at the time. Only me 🙂

      1. There was a rip on your right as you were wading out. You weren’t in it and it probably wasn’t very strong. I don’t know what the tidal range is for NZ but the tidal range for the UK is quite large. Hence beaches are in a state of continual change and you need to be alert at all times.

        I’m not sure how warning signs are going to be effective. The sea can be dangerous and you enter at your own risk. A warning sign that says it is dangerous at low tide implies it is safe at a different tide and that could be totally incorrect. If you go regularly to a particular beach, note how the sand shifts daily, the sandbanks change and hence the rip currents alter. Best to ask for advice from the locals.

        1. Ah, how do you know there’s a rip there? I can’t see anything 🙂

      2. Do you see the more ruffled nature of the surface in the right of the picture.? It looks like there is a sandbank further to the right and the water is draining off the bank and flowing back out.

      3. Do you see the more ruffled nature of the surface in the right of the picture.?

        It all looks fairly ruffled to me 🙂 But there was a small stream of water flowing inland just to the right of us and it had created a bit of a sandbank.

      4. Yes, you have the whitewater coming in over the sandbank and then draining back out. Since the waves were small, there wasn’t too much water draining back out and hence not a fierce rip.

        It is a good idea to scope out the beach, in this case from the top of the dune, when you arrive. You need to check out the tide times and tidal range for the day, so you have an idea of the state and direction of tide when you arrive.

        Look where the waves break, where the whitewater is coming in, any sandbanks with whitewater over them and clear water between them and the shoreline. Rips will form here. Also look for patterns along the shoreline and particularly changes between smooth water and ruffled water. The ruffled water will indicate a rip. Look for indentations in the shoreline (there are few on your pictures). These indentations will show up deeper water into which the whitewater will drain and again indicate rips. Any stream flowing out from the beach will also help with rip formation, as will sizeable rock outcrops.

        When walking along the beach, note smooth flat areas of sand (unlikely to have rips over these areas), sandbanks and deep rippled areas of sand. These deep rippled areas will indicate where rips form as the tide comes in.

        Other things to note. Is the beach steeply shelving anywhere within the tidal range? If so, and there are waves then these will break heavily on the shore line and drain back with sufficient strength to knock you off your feet and pull you out of your depth. I’m sure you are familiar with this from Australia.

        What to do if caught in a rip current (apologies if you know what to do):

        Don’t panic, relax;
        Don’t try to swim against the current (you are unlikely to make any progress and will tire yourself and lead to panic);
        Swim across the current, conserving your energy, in the direction of the whitewater;
        When in the whitewater, use the waves to push you in towards the shore. Better still bodysurf in.

        1. Oh wow! You’re an expert. I’ve never been caught in a rip but I’ve heard some suggest that it’s best to let the rip take you out to sea and then swim parallel to the shore for a bit then swim back in. I’d probably panic and swim against it 🙂

        1. That’s great. Thanks for sharing that. Very informative.

  9. Well Rachel, I have to agree with your hubby here, you are absolutely nuts!!! How did you stand it? I have to hand it to you, you are way braver than me, I HATE cold sea. I’m so glad you didn’t disappear, what a fascinating mystery that is, never heard of it. I wonder what happened to him? And what beautiful sands. It would be perfect if only a lot warmer! A lovely day family day out 🙂

    1. Thanks, Sherri.

      The Harold Holt tale is fascinating and I’m surprised it’s not widely known outside of Australia. How many nations can say they lost, as in he vanished, a Prime Minister? People assume he was taken by sharks which is the most plausible explanation.

      Swimming in the sea wasn’t as bad as I thought. I wasn’t in for very long although I had to go in twice because the first time I came out Ben hadn’t taken any photographs! So I had to go back in again so he could get the proof. I wasn’t happy with him at the time 🙂

      1. Very strange story indeed that Rachel. I’m so intrigued by it. And I can’t believe you actualy went in twice…as if once wasn’t enough, yikes! No wonder you weren’t happy…and I’ll say it again, you are way braver than me 😉

  10. […] our list. I can’t even say I’ve swum in the North Sea in winter since, although I did swim in a chilly 6°C in the North Sea on Sunday, it’s technically not winter anymore! This means I’m going to have to do it […]

  11. The beach looks beautiful, the sea looks cold and the electric car sounds hilarious!

    1. It is quite an attractive beach which is high praise from a Queenslander given that I think Queensland has the best beaches in the world. I’m thinking of the magnificent Whitehaven beach.

  12. […] the DVD online and we watched it last night. I was interested because back in March we visited Balmedie Beach, where I went swimming, and I later discovered it is near the location of a controversial golf […]

  13. […] couple of years ago I swam at Balmedie Beach. It was March and so I just missed out on being able to say I swam in the North Sea in winter. […]

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