WE all tend to feel a bit jaded on New Year’s Day when the festivities of the festive period are over, when we have eaten and drunk too much and are about to go back to work.

But, rather than remain wrapped in your duvet watching old movies and feeling glum, why start the new year with a bang - or should I say splash.

On January 1, across the country, thousands of people take the plunge and brave icy British waters clad in fancy dress, or wearing not very much at all.

It has become an annual tradition to take a chilly dip in the sea, lakes or rivers, either to raise money for charity or purely for fun.

Every year, on Ilkley Moor, thrill seekers make a pilgrimage to take a cold water plunge at White Wells spa cottage.

Since 1995, people have been queuing up for an invigorating New Year’s Day dip in the 8ft by 6ft stone bath at the historic beauty spot. People of all ages and from across Yorkshire take part in the tradition.

There has been bathing at White Wells since 1703 when there was a bath to the rear of the premises. This was replaced in 1791 by two baths, one of which is on display today. Although the water has no significant mineral content it is the coldness which stimulates the circulation.

White Wells was instrumental in establishing Ilkley as a spa town. A number of large hydros were built in the area during the 19th century where people could come to ‘take the waters’, believing all manner of aliments could be cured. Charles Darwin visited Ilkley in 1859 and is believed to have taken the waters at White Wells.

The spa opens between 10am and 5pm on New Year’s day, with plunging on a first come, first served basis. A small changing area - two cubicles - is available for visitors, who must bring their own swimming costumes and towels.

It must take guts to immerse yourself in the freezing waters, but such is the popularity of the experience that queues form throughout the day.

There is no charge for plunging, however, participants can throw loose change into the bath, buy a certificate to mark the occasion and support the cafe through buying hot snacks and drinks.

Plunging is taken at the bather’s own risk, and due to the historic nature and design of the plunge bath, it may be unsuitable for use by some disabled visitors.

Not far away in Otley, crowds gather at Wharfemeadows Park to watch swimmers brave the freezing River Wharfe in memory of local swimming teacher Joe Town.

Joe, who had learned to swim in the Wharfe as a child, ran the event for more than 25 years until his death in 2011.

Now known as the New Year’s Day Otley Memorial River Swim, the dip raises money every year for a different charity.

Over on the east coast the New Year’s Day Dip in South Bay attracts those who are up to the challenge of jumping into the North Sea to ring in January 1.

Organised by Scarborough Lions Club around 100 entrants every year take part to raise money for a charity of their choice.

Starting with a few plucky individuals more than 20 years ago, it has grown into an event that last year saw almost 130 people enter the freezing North Sea, many in fancy dress. People dressed as characters such as Superman, Harry Potter and Donald Trump could be seen racing through the waves. More than £2,000 was raised.

The event is open to all, with assistance being provided by Scarborough Rowing Club, Scarborough’s town crier and the mayor, making it an even more colourful affair, along with a local mountain rescue team and the sub aqua club, who keep a watchful eye on the dippers’ safety.

The dip is attended by thousands of spectators and evokes a carnival atmosphere on the beach, with many people picnicking and partying afterwards or enjoying fish and chips along the sea front. Whatever the weather, it’s a busy day for the town and a great day out - whether dipping or not.

Among other dips taking place along the North Sea coast are New Year’s Day swims at Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear and Alnmouth in Northumberland. An event in Gosport, at Stokes Bay in Hampshire raises about £4,000 each year for the Gosport and Fareham Inshore Rescue Service.

In South Queensferry on the Firth of Forth in Scotland, more than a thousand people take to the waters every year.

The annual ritual of jumping into cold water to mark the new year is not confined to the UK. In Canada what is known as a ‘polar bear plunge’ is held at various locations across the country on New Year’s Day, where participants enter a body of water despite the freezing temperatures, as would a polar bear.

Similar traditions are upheld across the USA.

*For more information on Scarborough dip contact Scarborough Lions by emailing aldeacon2004@yahoo.co.uk or by visiting their website at e-clubhouse.org/sites/scarboroughuk/page-10.php.