Best places for wild swimming in the UK
In recent years, wild swimming has become an incredibly popular activity with outdoor enthusiasts. From shimmering lakes to tranquil rivers, wild swimming is liberating, refreshing and exciting. We’ve compiled a guide on the best locations and how to stay safe when wild swimming.
What is wild swimming?
Wild swimming encapsulates all types of swimming in any natural body of water, be it a river, lake, pool or the ocean. All you need is yourself, a suitable swimming costume and a stretch of water. In recent years, wild swimming has seen a rise in popularity – possibly because it’s a simplistic way of reconnecting with nature.
Is wild swimming safe?
While wild swimming is a fun and unique experience, it is worth remembering that you must take necessary safety precautions. We recommend doing the following to ensure a fun and safe experience:
- Check the speed of current by throwing a stick in the water, making sure it’s not flowing too fast
- Wear a wetsuit to handle the low temperatures, even in the summer months
- Gauge the depth of the water before diving or jumping, as the water may be shallower than it appears
- Swim with a friend who can help you if you get in danger
- Plan how you are going to get out of the water, riverbanks can be slippery and difficult to climb
Where are the best places to go wild swimming?
As an island with many bodies of water, it can be difficult trying to decide the best spot to try swimming in the wild. To help you choose, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite places to go wild swimming on your next camping trip.
1. Blue Lagoon, Pembrokeshire
Nearest campsite: St Davids Club Site (5 minutes)*
Located among the rocky cliffs of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Blue Lagoon is one of the most picturesque settings for wild swimming. The lagoon is famous for hosting watersports events, including the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series.
Nestled close to the idyllic Welsh village of Abereiddi, Blue Lagoon is a former slate quarry, flooded by the sapphire waves of the Irish Sea. The lagoon is also home to the Open Water Swimming Club, allowing members to swim in the cold waters during summertime.
2. River Dart, Staverton, Devon
Nearest campsite: California Cross Club Site (25 minutes)*
Winding through the heart of Devon, from Dartmoor to Dartmouth, the River Dart is an ideal location for a swim.
Catch the steam railway from Littlehempston to the idyllic village of Staverton; home to a 300m stretch of water ideal for lap swimming. Enter the water down the footpath between the railway station and the old mill; the swimming spot is opposite the weir.
3. Granchester Meadows, Grantchester Cambridgeshire
Nearest campsite: Cambridge Club Site (15 minutes)*
Passing through the university city of Cambridge, the River Cam winds through some of the country’s most idyllic towns and villages.
Situated in the quaint village of the same name, Grantchester Meadows is a green open space with the River Cam flowing merrily through the centre. The meandering river is navigated simultaneously by swimmers and punters. Dive in from the deep banks, or wade in from the shallow banks near the Orchard Tea Garden.
4. Mourne Mountains, Northern Ireland
Nearest campsite: Delamont Country Park Club Site (45 minutes)*
Thought to be the inspiration for Narnia in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Mourne Mountains are an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The mountains are home to shimmering loughs, ideal for wild swimming. Framed by several peaks including Slieve Loughshannagh and Slieve Doan, Lough Shannagh is a wide-open lake with cold, clear water and a stunning backdrop.
5. Skye’s Fairy Pools, Scotland
Nearest campsite: Skye Club Site (1 hour)*
Located near the village of Carbost, the Isle of Skye’s Fairy Pools are mystical rock pools fed by a series of waterfalls from the Cuillin Mountains. Popular among wild swimmers, the pools are also one of the island’s most popular tourist attractions.
Submerge yourself in this fairytale setting and take a dip in crystal-clear waters tinged with green and pink. Swim beneath the underwater archway connecting two pools, here you’ll see the rock face encrusted with quartz.
6. River Stour, Fordwich, Kent
Nearest campsite: Canterbury Club Site (5 minutes)*
Rising in Lenham, in the heart of Kent, and ending at Pegwell Bay on the coast, the Great Stour is home to some of the country’s best wild swimming locations.
Nestled beside the river, Fordwich is a remnant market town often labelled as England’s smallest town. The river is at first open and sunny, but after two miles becomes wooded and secluded. The water is so clear you can see fish swimming alongside you.
7. River Trent, Anchor Church, Ingleby, Derbyshire
Nearest campsite: Conkers Club Site (25 minutes)*
Passing through the northern midlands and emptying in the North Sea, the Trent is the third-longest river in the United Kingdom and home to some of the best spots for swimming.
Close to the hamlet of Ingleby, the alluring caves of Anchor Church overlook a quiet lagoon popular with wild swimmers. Access the water from the southern edge and swim lengths of approximately 100m.
8. Treyarnon Rock Pool, Cornwall
Nearest campsite: Tregurrian Club Site (20 minutes)*
Located on the north Cornish coastline, Treyarnon Bay is a small sandy beach, bordered by low cliffs and dunes.
Along the north edge of the beach, the rock pool is refilled each high tide with natural fresh seawater. Take a dip in this tidal pool, approximately 8ft deep, and marvel at the panoramic views.
Are you interested in discovering more outdoor activities? Take a look at the best mountains worth climbing on your next camping trip. If you need more ideas to inspire your next camping trip, take a look at some more holiday ideas.