Wild swimming: the UK’s best outdoor swim spots
Cool off and take a dip in rivers, lakes, waterfalls and seas
With the UK set to welcome a heatwave, what better way to cool off than going for a wild outdoor swim? Britain’s beaches, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, coves and caves are “cleaner, safer and more accessible than at any time in living memory”, said the Wild Swimming guide. The health benefits of a wild or natural swim are well known, “so take the plunge and dip in”. Here we pick out some of the best places for wild swimming in the UK.
Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Skye’s Fairy Pools lie “serenely in a sheltered glade of red-berried rowans and lilac rock”, said Wild Swimming author Daniel Start in Countryfile Magazine. Some of the pools are “tinged with pinks and greens, and two are linked by an underwater arch – in scenery as magical as this it’s not difficult to imagine fairies and nymphs”.
Asparagus Island, Cornwall, England
If you’re looking to swim around an island, then the “beautiful golden sands” of Kynance Cove and the “jumble of translucent green serpentine rocks” at the base of Asparagus Island “makes this swim one of our favourites”, said author and islandeer Lisa Drewe on The Outdoor Swimming Society. “Start from the sandy tombolo between the mainland and island at the west end of Kynance Cove.”
Grantchester Meadows, Cambridge, England
At Grantchester Meadows in the city of Cambridge there’s 2km of river to dive and swim in, said Charlotte McCaughan-Hawes and Thomas Barrie in House & Garden. The banks are deep “so it’s good for jumping in” but it can be muddy. “There’s ample lovely grassland for picnics before a cooling dip.”
Lower Ddwli Falls, Waterfall Woods, Brecon Beacons, Wales
In the hills of the Brecon Beacons, near Ystradfellte, “you’ll find some of the most amazing waterfall plunge pools in Britain”, said Daniel Start in The Guardian. Lower Ddwli Falls is “my favourite”, it’s a “huge open pool with a great arc of a waterfall”.
Lough Shannagh, Mourne Mountains, County Down, Northern Ireland
Lough Shannagh is a wide open loch surrounded by the beautiful Mourne Mountains, said Outsider.ie. With “crystal clear” and “refreshingly cold” water, the lake can be accessed via a half hour walk from the road.
Blue Lagoon, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Thrill seekers and swimmers will “enjoy a splash” in the Blue Lagoon in Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire, said Phillippa Stewart on RedBull.com. Grey slate gives the breached 25m-deep quarry pool a “brilliant blue colour” and the remains of the old quarry building also “make great platforms to jump from”. It’s such an impressive spot that the Red Bull Cliff Diving series was held there in 2013.
Lake Windermere, Lake District, England
With “invigorating temperatures and stunning views”, Windermere is the “undisputed king” for wild swimming, said Annabelle Spranklen in Tatler. This is “outdoor swimming heaven”.
Beckenham Place Park Swimming Lake, London, England
Beckenham Place Park may be London’s newest wild swimming spot, but “technically, it’s pretty ancient”, said Alexandra Sims in Time Out. “The long grasses, wet woodland, and green hills sloping towards the water’s edge make the pool feel strangely secluded for an inner-city spot.”
Fidden, Isle of Mull, Highlands, Scotland
These are some of the “clearest waters in Britain”, and they have an “ethereal turquoise hue”, said wild swimming expert Daniel Start in his Hidden Beaches book. “At low tide you can wade across to Erraid, Robert Louise Stevenson’s Treasure Island, with more secret beaches.”