Ne’erday dookers take icy plunge

Friends splash each other in the ice cold water.

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Words and pictures by Colin Smeeton

Around 40 brave souls took to the icy waters of Brodick Bay on New Year’s Day to celebrate the tradition which has become known as the Douglas Dook.

Started nine years ago the dook was initiated by the owner of the Douglas Hotel Sean Henry who, with a small group of friends, took to the water as a dare and a bit of fun. And although Sean Henry sadly passed away last year, aged just 53, the tradition has continued with hotel guests and Brodick residents now all joining in on the fun event which is growing each year.

This year, in tribute to Sean the Douglas Hotel staff carried the flags of the various countries where he had business interests: Estonia, Spain, Russia, England and, of course, Scotland.

Tribute was also paid by friends of Ian Rowland, who also died this year, who took him for his final dook by scattering his ashes while in Australian fancy dress.

Previous themes have been Indookpendence, The Broons, The year of the Chinese Dragon and Dookstock – Winter of Love.

The relatively new tradition of New Year dooking follows in the footsteps of the Loony Dook in Edinburgh which started in 1986 and which has become so popular that tickets for the event quickly sold out this year, to the consternation of regulars and locals.

The popularity of New Year dooking is increasing across the island and with most other villages on Arran now hosting their own events with large numbers turning out at Blackwaterfoot, Lochranza, Whiting Bay and Lamlash this year.

Next year, the 10th Douglas Dook is set to be an anniversary celebration with organisers already planning their biggest and best event for 2021.

Douglas Hotel staff lead the procession from the hotel to the Brodick slipway. 01_B02Ddook01

The first two brave swimmers enter the water. 01_B02Ddook02

A large crowd of onlookers gather to watch the spectacle. 01_B02Ddook03

With temperatures hovering at eight degrees swimmers slowly make their way to the water. 01_B02Ddook04

Friends splash each other in the ice cold water. 01_B02Ddook05

A smiling Richard Small of the Auchrannie Hotel emerges from the water. 01_B02Ddook06

Two swimmers with little to keep them warm smile for the camera. 01_B02Ddook07

Two young dookers are joined by their boisterous dogs. 01_B02Ddook08

Waves of dookers make their way down the slipway towards the water. 01_B02Ddook09

A man and his dog plunge beneath the cold water. 01_B02Ddook10

A man describes the temperature of the water to his friends waiting to enter. 01_B02Ddook11

The Australian gang who were remembering their friend Ian Rowland. 01_B02Ddook12

A dooker quickly dries off and gets changed into warmer clothes. 01_B02Ddook14

Heading: Other dooks around the island

Darren, Sid and Jesse Townsend join Eden Robertson take their own dook off Lamlash pier. No_B02Ddook15

After the Banner left Georgina Lepley Maclean was joined in Lamlash  Darren, Sid and Jesse Townsend for a dook on Boxing day. No_B02Ddook16

A large number of dookers take to the sea at Blackwaterfoot on New Year’s day. Photo Andy Surridge No_B02Ddook17

On your marks: dookers charge into the freezing cold water at Blackwaterfoot. Photo Andy Surridge. No_B02Ddook18

Dookers run into the water at Whiting Bay. Photo Jacqueline Mcfarlane. No_B02Dook19

The Lochranza dookers following their New Year’s Day dip. NO_B02Dook20