An Aberdeen lecturer plans to swim the icy waters of the Dee this winter – to say thanks to the river she says saved her from “lockdown depression”. And she is urging others to turn to nature to battle their pandemic gloom.

Mirjam (pronounced Miriam) Brady is a keen swimmer who lost access to swimming pools when they closed earlier this year because of Covid restrictions.

The 38-year-old psychology lecturer then started working out on a treadmill in her garage at home. But as the weeks passed, the continuing restrictions took their toll.

“At my lowest point, I was actually feeling a sense of grief. I was getting sadder and sadder. Everything lost its colour – almost literally. I didn’t enjoy anything anymore.”

Mirjam then joined a group of wild swimmers who take the plunge in the River Dee in Aberdeen at high tide, when the current slows down.

“I went into the water and it was like a cloud lifting,” she said. “I felt absolutely fantastic. I thought, for me, lockdown is over!”

As a “thanks” to the river that helped her through lockdown, Mirjam plans to swim the icy Dee every fortnight until the end of December, “…as long as the water doesn’t freeze over.” She will be raising money for the River Dee Trust’s campaign to plant a million native trees to safeguard salmon and other species against rising summer temperatures.”

Mirjam is not suggesting that other people should start swimming the river, and she stresses the need for strict safety measures. But she says, “Immersing yourself in nature is one of the best ways of maintaining mental health and supporting the trees campaign is a wonderful way to help nature.”

River Dee Trust chairman, Sandy Bremner, said: “We are delighted that Mirjam’s experience of the river helped her through a difficult time, and we are very grateful for her support. The Million Trees campaign seems to have fired the public’s imagination. We have been overwhelmed by messages of encouragement and offers of help.”

Mirjam is raising money to support the River Dee Trust’s Million Trees Campaign