Having been away in China for two years, I have missed having any opportunities to enjoy naturism. Nudism is not legal in China and if anything the government have been getting even more restrictive in recent years. Coming back to Britain for my brother’s wedding, I was staying in Dorset, away from my regular naturist friends in South Wales. I had arrived too late for any of the WNBRs, but I did hear about a group known as “Socks off” who were organizing a naked walk near Southampton. The group are on Meetups and advertise on the BN website, but I heard about them through a friend on Facebook.
The group, led by Emma and Peter, is mostly based near London and is made up of people with an interest in nudism and life drawing. I had never tried life drawing, but meeting up with a nudist group, just over an hour away, seemed good to me. Clearly, being in Dorset, I did have the option to visit Studland beach, but I am not really a sun worshiper and know no other local nudists, so the idea of going to a beach, alone seemed quite dull.
The people organizing the walk had arranged for it to be on a Monday, in order to avoid seeing too many other people. This limited the number of people able to attend, as many of the members of the socks off group were working.
A couple of people were coming down on public transport, so we had arranged to meet at a pub near the Fareham train station and car share over towards Titchfield Haven nature reserve. From there we planned to walk west along the shoreline, following the Solent Way as far as Hamble, ending at the spit opposite Hamble point marina. On the way there, or back the plan was to stop for a picnic and do a bit of life drawing.
We were mostly professionals or teachers around our 40s. I did not know any of the people attending, but whenever I have attended any naturist events, I have found people to be very friendly and welcoming. We got chatting right away and very soon, it was like we were all old friends. Emma wanted to get a few photos of the group, but some of the group were uncomfortable about having photos shown online, so out of respect to them I am not going to post any recognizable photos of the others.
At first people kept their clothes on, as there were windsurfers and dog walkers near the carpark, and we wanted to avoid any confrontations. Further along the beach we stripped off, but the others in the group were keen to cover up if we saw anyone approaching, and I followed suit. We also covered up when passing through the Solent Breezes caravan park. When I was with the South Wales group we would usually remain naked, unless there were people with young children nearby, but this group were more inclined to cover up at the first sign of textiles nearby.
This does bring up the question of whether we should have to cover up when we meet people out in the countryside. Legally it is not necessary. A naked person is not breaking the law simply by being naked, only if they set out to shock or distress people. Yet some would argue that as there is such an expectation for people to wear clothes, being naked in a place where it is unexpected is likely to cause shock or distress.
In my experience of naked hiking, there has only been one person who has voiced annoyance at seeing a group of naked people. He was a dog walker. When hiking in the hills, people have always been very friendly. Sometimes they laugh, sometimes they just say good day, other times they comment on it being “good weather for it” or say that we are braver than them.
my feeling is this:
If it is a big event, like the WNBR or the midsummer skinnydip, most people will accept it as an amusing novelty and will just laugh or wave at the crowds of naked people.
If you are in the great outdoors, far from towns and cities, the people you will meet are ones who love nature, don’t want to feel confined, want to be healthy and are open minded. Simply being so far from civilization seems to make nudity accepted.
Lying on quiet beaches you are usually fine. Most people will accept that nude bathing and skinny dipping are appealing, even if they don’t want to do it. As long as you are in a quiet spot, rather than a busy, crowded beach, people who might be offended will just steer around you.
If you are in a town or village, people will be shocked and offended. They will see your nudity as an unwelcome intrusion into what they expect. Currently nudism is accepted by most people, as long as it is either discreet or has a carnival feel.
The difficulty, I think, is when you are in quiet rural areas, not far from towns and villages, where people like to walk their dogs.
Dog walkers are often town and village people, not outdoors people. They are not necessarily people who love walking, or the countryside. They go out because the dog needs to go out. They have a routine and they are upset by things that disrupt their routine. Seeing a naked person on their walking route is like seeing a naked person walking trough their village. It feels like a more personal intrusion.
In an area that is frequented by dog walkers, I think it is wise to cover up, if you want to avoid confrontations. Even though we covered up, there were a few dog walkers we passed who seemed to be actively trying to avoid looking at us.
We had a pleasant walk and on the way back we stopped off for a picnic and some life drawing. The weather had not been great and there had been a few drops of rain, but it passed quickly. I have not done much drawing since I was a child, so I volunteered to be a model. We just did a few ten or fifteen minute poses. This is the first time that I had ever done any life modelling, but the artists seemed to be very pleased with my performance, saying that I seemed like a natural and that it was a great pose to use. Fifteen minutes seems a lot longer when you are trying to stay completely still and there was a cold breeze coming in off the water.
There were several groups of people who walked past, within sight of us while we were drawing, but they didn’t voice any objection to a bunch half naked, or naked artists drawing a naked man. It seems that nudity in art is more socially acceptable than naked walking.
After the life drawing we returned past the caravan park and tried to continue along the beach. The tide had come in during our walk and it was a bit tricky to get back onto the last stretch of beach. We had to walk over the sea defences to get to the beach, while the waves were lapping over them. Since we had just walked through the holiday park, we were dressed doing this and Emma’s trousers got pretty wet.
On the other side of the sea defences the beach was empty, so we could strip off again, for the last couple of miles. As we neared the end of our walk, we decided that despite the weather, it would be nice to strip off and have a swim. We stopped in a sheltered area, near a few small trees and all of us except Peter eventually took the plunge.
The water was not too bad, once we got in. While we were swimming we saw an old couple walking along the beach. At first we thought that we should stay in the water until they passed us by, but they were walking very slowly. We nearly all got out of the water before they reached us and there was no doubt that they had seen several naked people walking tenderly up the pebbly beach. As they walked past they smiled at us and said. “You’re braver than us.”
All in all, it was a lovely day. The weather was overcast, but not too cold. There had been no trouble from passers by and my first experience of life drawing had been quite fun.
If you feel like going for a naked ramble sometime, why not look online for any groups in your area. I am sure you will enjoy it.