10 Of The UK’s Best Wild Swimming Locations

Wild swimming is all about enjoying natural bodies of water in the outdoors. For your next adventure, why not take a dip somewhere in the UK? Here's a guide to some of the best places for it

Wild swimming has never been more on trend. In recent years, there’s been countless newspaper articles written about the benefits of it and a growing number of advocates for it on social media. Where exactly are the best places to go wild swimming in the UK then? Of course, we can’t really claim to know every single, hidden gem, wild swimming spot in this country but we can point you in the direction of some very good ones.

Swimming in natural spaces, such as lakes and rivers, around the UK is a great way to feel at one with this country’s natural environments. Keep on reading to discover our round-up of the UK’s best wild swimming locations. From leafy London to spectacular Scotland, this list of the United Kingdom’s top destinations for intrepid swimmers is sure to inspire some water-based adventures.

Lake Windermere, Lake District

It probably goes without saying that you want to have the most enjoyable and stress-free wild swimming experience possible. This will happen if you find yourself in the presence of Lake Windermere (one of the most famous lakes in the Lake District area).

The longest natural lake in England has a reputation that precedes itself. If you’re heading here with your swimming kit, expect refreshing temperatures and staggering views of the surrounding landscape.

Dipping your toe into the waters of Lake Windermere is all fun and games. However, if you’re looking for a much more competitive stage to make a splash on then be sure to get yourself signed up for the Great North Swim.

River Trent, Derbyshire

The River Trent, unsurprisingly, isn’t named after the talented football player Trent Alexander-Arnold. The name “Trent”, it’s thought, actually comes from a Celtic word possibly meaning “strongly flooding.”

It is a stretch of water where you can enjoy the remarkable Anchor Church, a series of caves in a Keuper Sandstone outcrop. This, we reckon, must be one of the most postcard-perfect wild swimming spots on our list.

Around a mile upstream from Ingleby near Derby is where you’ll find the chiseled rock caverns that look like they would make suitable living quarters for nymphs and sprites. Over the years, the caves have had major human intervention. Back in the 6th and 7th century, it was even home to hermits and monks.

The swimming here will make for a grand, and memorable, experience. The quiet lagoon here, one that sits just off the river, will make you feel like you’re amongst the pages of a fairytale.

Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye

The Fairy Pools may sound like its come straight out of The Chronicles of Narnia and, at its very best, it certainly looks like it has with its lucent sapphire pools on the River Brittle and amazing backdrop.  The Pools’ otherworldly beauty attracts visitors to Skye from across the globe, all of them seeking the perfect angle from which to capture a social media moment near the underwater arch.

Serpentine Lido, London

This is a wild swimming spot that just so happens to have a swimming club dedicated to it – the Serpentine Swimming Club is the oldest of its kind in Britain. Taking a dip in the surrounds of Hyde Park is the perfect tonic for the mind and body, and a way to start your morning off the right way.

Members of the club can be found swimming here everyday between 5:00am. to 9:30am. On Christmas Day is when they hold their “Peter Pan Christmas Day Race”. It’s one of the biggest dates on the calendar for those involved in this swimming club.

If you don’t want to join a club, the Lido is open to the paying public between 10.00am and 6:00pm on weekends. There’s also a 100m swimming area, and a children’s paddling pool.

Crummock Water, Lake District

When a place has “Lake” in its name, you can be fairly certain that it will have one or more bodies of water to explore. Crummock Water in the Lake District is well worth taking a wild dip in if you ever get the opportunity.

This spot is incredibly accessible. You can literally park in the spaces along the lakeshore and do a pike dive straight from your car bonnet into idyllic water.

Off to one side of the lake is Scale Force, the tallest single-drop waterfall in the Lake District. After drying yourself off from the water, be sure to continue your National Park adventure with the help of our 15 Adventurous Things To Do In The Lake District guide.

Waterfall Woods, Brecon Beacons

Leaving Wales off our guide to wild swimming locations in the UK was never an option. This is Waterfall Woods in the Brecon Beacons, a place where you’ll find some of the most striking and awe-inspiring waterfall plunge pools.

This setting serves up some brilliant wild swimming options. There are more than 20 pools across five miles of river here, so if you’re looking for a fun task you could always try taking a dip in every single one. One particular crowdpleaser is Horseshoe Falls, which has a big jump and a rope swing for you and your friends / family to enjoy.

Donaghadee Harbour, Newtownards

After wild swimming in some waterfall plunge pools in Wales, why not hop on a ferry and travel on over to Northern Ireland? Upon arrival, make for the thriving swimming and watersports hub of Donaghadee Harbour in Newtownards.

This location has had plans approved for a ‘safe recreational zone’ in the harbour, with added signage and more buoys to protect swimmers from recreational boats in the water.

Burton Bradstock, Dorset

Head to the Jurassic Coast and you’ll discover the epic Burton Bradstock. This is a World Heritage Site, with its honey-stained cliffs home to ancient fossils .

Wild swimmers here will be met with a borderline Mediterranean sea, one that oozes cobalt blue and catches the eye with every breaking wave. The stunning landscape of beach, cliff, sky, and sea will make you want to swim in the Dorset water forever.

Tenby Harbour, Wales

Popping back to Wales now to pay a visit to the treasured town of Tenby in Pembrokeshire, one that’s got an array of colourful houses surrounding an iconic working harbour. It’s also home to two major events in the triathlon calendar. The Long Course Weekend and Iron Man, which offer up some dazzling swimming routes and a selection of locations for wild swims.

Perhaps the most iconic swimming spot is close to the harbour hotspot itself. This desirable location is beloved by the locals and tourists alike. It has a pier you can jump and dive from, and is a fun place to splash about. Obviously, it’s important to remember when swimming anywhere near Tenby harbour that boats will often come and go. Take a safety-first approach.

Castle Stalker, Argyll & The Isles

Just north of Oban is where you’ll find the formidable Castle Stalker sitting completely on its own tidal island in the bay of Loch Laich. The castle dates back to the 1300s and will make for an excellent wild swimming memory. Once you’re out of the murky Scottish waters, try and secure yourself a place on a tour of the castle. It’ll be well worth it.

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