One of Scotland’s first seaside saunas opens in Scottish village of Elie
Perched on the dunes, with beautiful views across the Firth of Forth, is the newest attraction in the picturesque Scottish village of Elie – Elie Seaside Sauna. Inspired by its founder’s love of wild swimming, this mobile wood-fired Finnish sauna is one of the first in Scotland. With cold-water bathing a popular past time year-round in Elie Bay, it looks set to appeal to regular swimmers and holidaymakers alike.
Situated on Elie Harbour, Elie Seaside Sauna brings the Nordic tradition of sauna by the sea to visitors and locals. Created from a converted horse trailer, and heated to temperatures of 80-100C by a wood-fired stove, the sauna’s interior is clad in Aspen, which exudes delectable caramel scents when heated. Furthermore, one side is entirely made of glass. Angled towards the setting sun, it offers stunning views over the sea tempting you to enjoy a rejuvenating dip. The shift from hot to cold and back again, is said to bring a host of mental and physical benefits.
Elie Seaside Sauna is the idea of Judith Dunlop, who grew-up, partially, in Elie, but came to base herself here 20 years ago. Judith is one of the founding members of Elie Blue Tits, a community of swimmers, who swim daily in Elie Bay. Judith, who also founded Elie Yoga, which runs yoga classes on Chapel Green and in Earlsferry Town Hall, aims to intergrate yoga with sauna and swimming, is part of an international interest in combining regular sauna use with the benefits of cold-water swimming. To Judith, this is all part of the global trend towards healthy, local and in-season eating, outdoor exercise, a sense of being a part of nature, a tuning-into the lunar cycles and weather patterns that developed during lockdown.
She said: “Having a sauna by the sea is a joyful, life-enhancing experience. Saunas can be peaceful places, for reflection, or social places for conversation. During lockdown, with pubs closed, many people found new, often healthier, ways to socialise – and I would like to help sustain this trend, helping others build healthier, more resilient relationships and friendships, within communities that don’t necessarily revolve around alcohol”.
“I was inspired to create Elie Seaside Sauna, having long being interested in the Nordic cultures and traditions that were, for such a very long time, so deeply interwoven with The Gaelic cultures, of Scotland and Ireland”. Also, “I have a desire to reestablish, in each sauna user, that sense of unencumbered joy, physical freedom, and sense of play, that they perhaps had at the beach, when they were kids”. For Judith, having a sauna, by the coast, with views of the sea, represents freedom to think and peace to process. As well as providing a healthy way to socialise with friends and family.
Sauna use is said to help ease respiratory conditions, reduce stress and muscle soreness, improve joint movement and ease arthritis pain. Furthermore, Elie Seaside Sauna provides a restful escape from the digital world. Inside, screens are replaced by the everchanging view. Clouds float past, marram grass blows in the wind, and the waves roll-in. Time passes gently and conversation flows. What could be nicer?