22 Best Places for Wild Swimming

I’ve been wild swimming in the UK for a good few years at this point and have spent a lot of time in cold water all year round. It’s simply fantastic and can make you feel great. However, when I started cold water swimming I actually found it very hard to find what I was looking for. Searching for things like ‘places to swim near me’ and ‘open water swimming near me’ lead to very few results, and unfortunately the results I did find didn’t always make it the easiest to find where to swim. I truly believe access to wild swimming and cold water swimming shouldn’t be difficult, so I’ve put together this guide with a whole range of different places to swim with maps and as much information as possible to help you get in the water more! Skip straight to places to swim near me.

wild swimming ullswater lake district cumbria

Table of Contents

What is Wild Swimming?

Simply, the phrase ‘wild swimming’ refers to bathing or swimming in natural bodies of water. That can be lakes, the sea, rivers, ponds or anything in-between. The benefits of cold water swimming are one of the main reasons it has become so popular. It’s a great way to get outdoors and feel immersed with nature, but also cold water swimming has been suggested to help improve mood; lifting anxiety and helping with depression as it acts as a reset to our otherwise busy minds. It can also be great for easing aching muscles. It doesn’t just have to be kept for scorching summer days either – and the benefit of cold water swimming can really come into its own in the colder months (I would advise starting in the summer months first and swimming into winter, to get yourself acclimatised).

wild swimming loch venachar scotland

Tips For Open Water Swimming

  • Work within your limits: Always get out wanting more. The water is not the place to push yourself, especially in the colder months. Nobody can tell you exactly how long to stay in, but always go on the side of caution.
  • Look at the area: Look for safe entry and exit points, check for possible signs of water contamination and fast flowing currents.
  • Acclimate first: Always enter the water to knee level and take deep breaths to lower yourself. You want to have steadied your breathing at shoulder height before you set off.
  • Work through the sensations: It’s perfectly normal to feel colder when you get out, have your clothing ready and put it on as quickly as possible to help warm you up – a warm drink can also be a great idea!
  • Don’t just jump in: If you haven’t acclimated, your body can go into shock and this can be very dangerous. Always acclimate to the water before you jump in, even on a hot sunny day – the water can be a lot colder than you think.

You can also watch this short video we produced in collaboration with Open Minds Active full of tips to help make your outdoors swims and wild swimming more safe and secure:

Essential Gear for Wild Swimming

I genuinely don’t believe you need a lot of gear for wild swimming and cold water swimming clothing can literally be as simple as your usual swimwear. However, there are a few pieces of cold water swimming equipment that can make your swims more enjoyable and help you stay in the water for longer:

  • Swimwear: such as these or these.
  • Wetsuit: this is a personal choice and if you find yourself getting colder than you feel comfortable with and want to swim for longer, they can make a great option. I would recommend the Orca Openwater Hi-Vis wetsuit and the Orca Thermal wetsuit.
  • Cold water swimming robe: These can make all the difference in winter, but also make it much easier for you to get changed. I’d recommend dryrobe.
  • Neoprene booties: If you’re visiting somewhere with hard stones and rocks to enter the water, these will make your feet much more comfortable. They’re also great for keeping your feet warmer – especially so in colder months. I wear these by SEAC.
  • Neoprene gloves: The same as the booties, they keep your hands much warmer in the colder months meaning you can focus more on swimming and less on feeling cold! I like these ones.

For a more extensive look at all the gear and equipment to help make your wild swimming as enjoyable as possible, check out my Essential Gear for Cold Water Swimming guide.

Disclaimer: The gear recommendations above are affiliate links. You won’t pay any more for buying through these links, but we may receive a commission from any purchases made through them. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

wild swimming in scotland with dryrobe

Hints and Tips for Finding wild Swimming Spots

Here are my tips to help you find good spots for natural swimming:

  • Beaches: Look at the tide times for the area you’ll be in (a Google search will find this) – it’s typically better to swim at higher tide as sometimes at low tide the water can be very far out.
  • Lakes: To find, look on the map for bodies of water and you’ll want to make sure you can find a good entry and exit point. A pebbly like beach will do you well – and be cautious when entering the water, as it could get deep very quickly. Always check for signs – if there is a no swimming sign, honour it and move on, even though it may be frustrating. This sadly is likely to be the case for reservoirs.
  • Rivers: Look for stretches deep enough to swim and check how you will enter and exit the water first – pebbly beach like areas are always the most ideal. If the bank is very slippery with a steep ledge, you need to think about if this is suitable for you or not. Always keep an eye on the current as well, and never swim directly after heavy rain as you may experience run off from local farm land and the current may be much stronger than normal.
  • Water quality: You can find out more about how to check for water quality here. I would also advise downloading the Bloomin’ Algae app, available on iOS and Android – this app is user run and allows you to upload possible sites of blue green algae so you know where and when to avoid a spot.

Swimming Clubs: How to Find

Swimming clubs can be a great way to gain confidence, not to mention a social thing too. There are many clubs out there and you can find them pretty easily. Start by doing a search on things like Google for ‘swimming club near me’ and see what comes up in your local area. You can also try searching for something like ‘swim clubs near me’ on Facebook, Instagram and other social platforms. Even if there isn’t an open water swimming club directly near you, you may be able to find a group that shares local swim spots. You may want to pay attention in local cafes as well as they will often have posters and info up about events and clubs and this can be a great way to find things going on in your community.

Best Wild Swimming Spots

If you’ve found searching for things like ‘places to swim’ or ‘outdoor swimming’ has brought up very mixed results, this guide should hopefully give you a great start and a load of locations to try to get your cold water swimming fix and find the best wild swimming in the UK. This list has been divided up by area to make it easier for you to locate spots that work for you.

Overall wild swimming map for cold water swimming and wild swimming in the UK

Navigate around the map and click on the pin points to locate areas near you – these all tally up with the locations listed below, so you can find out more information about each location.

Places to Swim Near Me


1. Hampstead Ponds, North London

Hampstead Ponds have become a bit of an institution in the world of wild swimming in the area, so if you’re looking for where to go swimming near me in London, this is a brilliant spot to try. Tucked away in Hampstead Heath itself, you can expect the swimming ponds to feel like you’ve stepped into a calm oasis away from London (except on a hot summers day when lots of people will flock to the ponds to keep cool). The water is muddy, but don’t let that put you off – the water quality is regularly tested and more than fine for swimming. If you’re new to wild swimming and cold water swimming, this can be a great spot to test it out, as the ponds are monitored by life guards and there is access via a jetty and ladders to get into the water.

Each of the swimming ponds can be found easily on Google Maps and there is signal all around the area. It’s worth checking out the City of London website for most up to date opening times and prices, but at time of publishing a non-concession ticket is 4.50 GBP.

There are three main ponds:

Hampstead Mixed Bathing Pond: Postcode – NW3 1BP

  • London wild swimming: Map to Hampstead mixed pond from Hampstead Heath Station here.
  • Map to Hampstead mixed pond from East Heath Car Park here.

Kenwood Ladies Pond: PostcodeN6 6JA

  • Map to Kenwood Ladies Pond from Gospel Oak Station here.
  • Map to Kenwood Ladies Pond from Millfield Lane on street parking here. (Please check parking signs and follow any restrictions in place).

Highgate Men’s Pond: PostcodeNW3 1BP

  • Map to Highgate Men’s Pond from Gospel Oak Station here.
  • Map to Highgate Men’s from Millfield Lane on street parking here.

hampstead mixed pond swimming london

2. West Reservoir Centre, East London

Postcode: N4 2HA
Location: Natural swimming – map to West Reservoir Centre here

Wild swimming in London at this spot is still relatively unknown for some reason, and even doing a search around open swimming doesn’t even always bring it up! A lovely oasis of beautiful cold water awaits you with an interesting backdrop of high rise apartment blocks synonymous with the area – it’s one of the best places to swim in London! The West Reservoir Centre offers courses up to 750m in the warmer months with shorter courses in the winter. Access to the water is relatively accessible, with a ramp heading down where you can set off for your cold water swim.

You’ll need to bring a bright swim cap (either orange or pink) or you can purchase one at the booth upon arrival for a couple of pounds. Tow floats can be used at the centre for free. There is a small unisex changing area (but no private space) so a changing towel or something to keep you covered is essential. There’s also a café on site. It is advised to book in advance and at the time of publishing, entrance is 11 GBP per person. For opening times and booking, it’s advisable to check out the West Reservoir Centre website.

You can reach West Reservoir Centre easily from Manor House Station or any local bus that stops at Manor House Station. If driving, there is also some on street parking around the adjacent climbing centre, The Castle, and around the back of the West Reservoir Centre. Please adhere to local restrictions or enforcements in place.

west reservoir swimming london

Highly Recommended for Open Water Swimming in London and Wild Swimming Near London

London Royal Docks, East London
Dock Road, Royal Docks London, E16 1AH
Location: Places to go wild swimming – map of London Royal Docks here
Facilities: Limited changing with bag drop area
Access the water via a ramp
Type: Open water from 150m – 750m
Opening times: Times vary, check the Love Open Water website for more details.

Beckenham Place Park, Lewisham
Beckenham Hill Rd, London BR3 1SY
Location: Map of Beckenham Place Park Lake here
Facilities: Items can be left on bank by side of lake. Parking limited
Access: Access the water via bank, can be muddy
Type: Open water pond
Opening times: Times vary, but open Mon, Weds, Friday and weekends for bookings, check the Lewisham Council Website for opening times, current prices and bookings

River Colne, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire
Colne Valley Regional Park, Rickmansworth, WD3 1NB
Location: River spots – map of River Colne spot from parking:

Facilities: None, but visitor centre has toilets and café
Access: Parking available at address above and you can access the river by walking along Grand Union canal, then between Stocker’s Lake and Bury Lake to join River Colne. Here you’ll find a spots to enter water from the grass banks. Can be muddy when wet
Type: River swim
Opening times: Check Colne Valley Regional Park website for car park opening times

South-West England

3. Stair Hole and Durdle Door: Wild Swimming Dorset

Postcode: BH20 5RS
Location: Where can I swim – Walking route to Stair Hole and Durdle Door from Lulworth Cove car park:

This area has some amazing spots for wild swimming and if you’re looking for some good cold sea swimming locations, you’ve hit the jackpot here. Listed above are just two iconic spots, but the whole cove and area are well worth exploring. It’s advised to park up at Lulworth Cove Car Park where you’ll find ample parking – you can check the Lulworth Estate website for up to date prices and car park opening times. To get to Stair Hole and Durdle Door you can walk down from the car park to the village and where you can see Lulworth Cove. You’ll then take the path on your right, which is the South West Coast Path. From there, you will have a steep hill that takes you to Stair Hole, where you can scramble down the bank to swim from. If you’re feeling up for it, you can also swim around the bay from Lulworth Cove to Stair Hole which is roughly 0.5 miles. To get to Durdle Door, you can keep going along the path from Stair Hole, there are steps down to the beach where you can swim from. These are possibly some of the best places to go swimming in the area! This is a lovely area to explore for hiking too – be sure to check out our article on the Jurassic Coast.

This isn’t the most accessible sea swimming as there are quite a few ups and downs and it can be very steep, but if you’re up for it, it’s truly picturesque and on a sunny day the water is so clear and turquoise, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in the Mediterranean. One thing to bear in mind though, if you’re looking for solitude on your swim, you likely won’t find it here – it gets pretty busy, especially in summer!

At the Lulworth Cove Car Park, you’ll find toilets and a visitor centre with a shop and café, there are also a few smaller restaurants and pubs down the road toward the village as well.

stair hole dorset jurassic coast

4. Porthcurno, Penwith (Porthcurno Beach): Wild Swimming Cornwall

Postcode: TR19 6JX
Location: Wild swim map to Porthcurno Beach from Porthcurno Car Park here

If you’re in Cornwall and searching for some of the best sea swimming, you might have found it! You’ll find some of the most beautiful wild swimming in the whole area here. From the cliff tops, flowers frame a lovely contrast to the turquoise waters below, and on the beach you’ll find shallow lagoons to explore all day long. Be careful at this spot – there can be strong waves if the wind is coming into land and there is also the risk of cut off around high tide in some of the coves surrounding. You can enter the water from the beach or walk along to explore quieter areas. It’s also possible to use the coast path from the car park to access other beaches along the coastline such as Pednvounder.

There is a car park at Porthcurno and also at Minack Theatre nearby. At the Minack Theatre you’ll find a café, as well as the Cable Station Inn. Toilets can also be found at Porthcurno car park. From the car park, there is a short cliff walk, which is quite steep, down to the beach. No showers or changing facilities are available, so be sure to bring a changing towel.

porthcurno beach cornwall

Wild Water Swimming: Highly Recommended for Open Water Swimming in South-West England

Bude Sea Pool, Cornwall
Summerleaze Beach parking, EX23 8LE
Location: Map of Bude Sea Pool from Summerleaze car park here
Facilities: If you’ve ever found yourself looking for natural pools this has probably come up – it’s iconic. There are no toilets by the pool, but there are toilets at Summerleaze car park. Wild swimming pools like this one are a great option when the tide is otherwise rough and you still want a swim.
Access: Different routes depending on tide. At low tide, follow signs for beach from Summerleze car park and walk across beach. This is a more accessible option with flatter path. At high tide, follow road at beach end of car park to ‘Lifes A Beach’ café and take path that goes up behind to join coast path. You’ll walk downhill via steps to pool from lifeguard hut
Type: Salt water tidal pool
Opening times: Open 24 hours a day and free to access. Lifeguards are there during peak hours

Lansallos Cove, Fowey, Cornwall
Lansallos Village, PL13 2PX
Location: Map of Lansallos Cove from Lansallos Village car park walking route:

Facilities: Small car park in village, no toilets of facilities
Access: Accessed via steep coastal path which may be unsuitable to those with accessibility concerns
Type: Salt water coastal bay
Opening times: Car park open all day

Portreath Tidal Baths/Lady Basset’s Baths, Redruth, Cornwall
Portreath Beach car park, TR16 4NN
Location: Swimming holes map of Portreath Tidal Baths from Portreath Beach Car Park here
Facilities: Car park for 120 cars, can get busy in summer months. Toilets on road just before car park with a café close by
Access: Whilst you can access Portreath beach itself with limited mobility, due to the rocky nature of the pools, they are not as accessible. From the parking, head down to the beach and walk across the beach to the left where you’ll reach the cove. You’ll find numerous small baths around here for dipping and enjoying. A small tidal pool can also be found against the harbour wall
Type: Small tidal pools and baths for dipping
Opening times: Open 24 hours a day and free to access

Sharrah Pools/Holne Pools, Dartmoor
New Bridge car park, TQ13 7
Location: Rivers to swim in – Sharrah Pools/Holne Pools walking route:

Facilities: Toilets facilities offered
Access: This is a walk and swim, but a lovely one and one that can be turned into a whole day adventure – please use the walking route above
Type: Essentially a freshwater swimming pool in the river – the current can be strong after heavy rainfall – be sure to swim within your limits as the water gets deep here too
Opening times: No opening times as such – but best to check National Park Authority website before visiting

Harlyn Bay, Cornwall
PL28 8PD
Location: Map of Harlyn Bay beach from Harlyn Bay beach Parking here
Facilities: A shop and pub with toilets at Harlyn Bay field car parkAccess: Park at Harlyn Bay Beach car park, or when busy, at the field car park opposite it and from there, it’s a short walk to the beach
Type: Salt water/beach
Opening times: Open all day

South-East & East of England

5. Frensham Great Pond, Surrey

Postcode: GU10 2QB
Location: Fresh water swimming – map of Frensham Great Pond here

Not technically a lake, but Frensham Great Pond is one of the closest you’ll get to freshwater in the south of England, and it’s a wonderful swim. It’s also a great cold water swimming spot close to London – you can reach it easily within two hours by car. There is also the option to take public transport – this is detailed on the Waverley website. There are two areas that Waverly council have approved for swimming at Frensham Great Pond and you must stick to these areas. They are very well marked on a sign post near the car park, which you can’t miss. However, you won’t have any problem finding these as there will likely be people on both of the ’beach’ areas and in the water.

This is a fabulous place to go wild swimming all year round. The car park is chargeable, please check the Waverley website for up to date information. Near the car park is also a café with outdoor seating and toilet facilities. No changing rooms, showers etc. You could very easily turn your trip here into a day’s adventure as there are numerous walking trails of various lengths in and around the area with beautiful views throughout.

frensham great pond wild swimming

6. Dedham – River Stour, Essex

Postcode: CO7 6DH
Location: Rivers to swim – map location for Dedham/River Stour swimming here

This spot is technically more of a swimming pond as it is a lovely area that forms a natural swimming pool in the river before the weir. From the car park, you’ve got a very short walk. You’ll walk to the bridge over the river visible from the road (you may even have driven over this on the way in) and take a left onto the river side. From here, you will have an open field on your right and the river on your left. There are two or three small beach areas that have lovely access to the water with loose gravel. Be sure to stay away from the weir, and you can swim over to the other side of the natural swimming pool when the current isn’t too strong (usually strong after rainfall). This spot stays naturally very cold all year round due to the fast flowing water and really is a gorgeous spot. It’s also very close to London, so if you’ve found yourself craving a swim and have searched for swimmable rivers then you’ll love this as its reachable within roughly 1 hour 20 minutes drive from London.

There are no changing facilities available, so come ready to swim. However, there are many nearby pubs, shops. Cafes and public toilets in the village of Dedham itself. There are some great walks in this area too – which can easily be found in our walks in Essex article.

dedham river stour mill pond wild swimming essex

Highly Recommended for Open Water Swimming in South-East England

Botany Bay, near Margate: Wild swimming in Kent
CT10 3LU
Location: Map to Botany Bay beach from parking here
Facilities: Porta toilets at car park, no changing facilities, lifeguards on duty during daytime
Access: From the small car park, walk down the ramp, you can swim from the beach. Please note this spot is better closer to high tide
Type: Salt water/beach
Opening times: Open all day

Seaford Beach, East Sussex
BN25 1BW
Location: Free open water swimming – map to Seaford Beach here
Facilities: No facilities, free parking along the side of road
Access: From the parking you can walk onto the beach and swim from anywhere along Please note that it’s best visited closer to high tide
Type: Salt water/beach
Opening times: Open all day


7. Llyn Dinas, Snowdonia National Park/Eyri

Postcode: LL54 5TW
Location: Lake to swim in – map to Llyn Dinas swim spot here

This is some of the most incredible wild swimming Wales has to offer, so if you’ve been looking for freshwater swimming in the Snowdonia area, this is one to check out. You’ll be greeted by majestic mountains, deep cold water and even though this lake is right next to the road, making it very accessible, it seldom feels completely overrun. You’ll want to arrive early or later in the day though as parking is by the road side, and there is limited space so this can become busy. If you’re up for it, you can also walk from nearby Beddgelert along the signs marked for Sygun Copper Mine, which then takes you after this down to Llyn Dinas on a well trodden path. This could also be turned into a gorgeous day in the mountains as the nearby Grib Ddu and Afon Glaslyn walk passes here. For more information on this route, check out our quieter Snowdonia walking routes article.

There are no facilities here, and parking is free by the side of the road. You can reach the swim spot by following the small path from the car parking over to the lake shore.

llyn dinas wild swimming wales

8. Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire

Postcode: SA71 5LS
Location: Wild swimming South Wales – map to Barafundle Bay here

Catch this coastal location on a sunny warm day and you could be forgiven for thinking that you are somewhere more Mediterranean. The water is turquoise blue and beautifully clear, plus the cliff top scenery all around is truly breathtaking. You’ve got incredible sand dunes and some great walks all around on the coast path – this is a great wild swimming location to make a day of, take a picnic and enjoy the beach.

Parking is available at Stackpole Quay, which can be reached on foot (see the map above for more information) and it does involve some up and downhill so it’s worse bearing in mind if mobility is an issue for you. The car park is payable.

barafundle bay pembrokeshire wales

Highly Recommended for Open Water Swimming in Wales

Sgwd y Pannwr, Fall of the Fuller, Brecon Beacons National Park
SA11 5US
Location: Wild swimming Brecon Beacons – walking route to swimming area:

Facilities: Car park at trail head
Access: Take the trail outlined above, and along you’ll find various pools you can swim in, the second being the best
Type: River/pool
Opening times: Open all day

Watkins Path Waterfall Pools, Snowdonia National Park/Eyri
LL55 4NR
Location: Walking route to Watkin’s Path Waterfall Pools:

Facilities: Car park at trail head for Watkins Path, with toilets
Access: This is a hike and swim, and can become very busy as it is on the Watkins Path to the summit of mount Snowdon. Use the map above, or combine with any of our suggested Watkins walks in our Snowdonia hiking routes article
Type: River/pool
Opening times: Open all day

Midlands & Yorkshire

9. Rivelin Plunge Pool, South Yorkshire

Postcode: S6 6GH
Location: Map of trail from car park to swim spot here

If you’re in the city of Sheffield and looking for some of the best wild swimming the Peak District has to offer, this is a great spot to try out and because of how close it is to Sheffield can easily be reached. You’ll feel like you’re in another world away from the city. Once you’ve parked your car in the free car park, you’ll have a short walk along a trail through the woodlands where you’ll follow the River Rivelin. You will know you’ve reached the plunge pool because you’ll be able to hear the sound of the water from the waterfall and look down upon it. There is a steep section to get to the entry and stepping over the rocks can be slippery, so you’ll to be mindful of your feet. Be prepared to find this pool very cold – it’s shaded and very fast flowing so it always feels a few degrees cooler. This is a real gem and a bit of a local institution – some of the best outdoor swimming Yorkshire has to offer!

There are no facilities other than the free car park for this cold water swimming location, so come ready to swim.

rivelin plunge pool sheffield

10. Janets Foss, Malham, North Yorkshire

Postcode: BD23 4DA
Wild swimming Yorskire – walking route to Janet’s Foss:

This is more of a hike and a swim, but it makes for a great adventure through some stunning scenery of the Yorkshire Dales, and you’ll be really looking forward to cooling down in the crystal clear waters of the waterfall pool when you get there! Expect to be surrounded by trees, the sound of running water and life everywhere – this really is a spot that will take over your senses. The pool isn’t huge, but it is big enough and deep enough to swim in – and always that bit colder due to its shaded location. Some of the best outdoor swimming Yorkshire has to offer!

You’ll park up at the main car park in nearby Malham and walk from there. It’s roughly a 2km walk to get there and you can return the same way. You can alternatively turn the route into more of a circular hike and hill walk by taking the trail on past Janet’s Foss and up to Dales Highway, toward Shorkley Hill and Malham Cove.

The parking is 4.50 GBP for the day, and there are toilets at the car park. No other facilities, but nearby pubs and cafes can be found in Malham.

janets foss yorkshire wild swimming

Highly Recommended for Open Water Swimming in the Midlands and Yorkshire

Lugg Meadow, Herefordshire
Location: Rivers you can swim in – map location of Lugg Meadow here
Facilities: Parking in nearby Eign Hill, you can park on street and try to get as close as possible
Access: From your parking spot, follow the river trail along, there are various spots along here to swim from with gentle beach like entry. It’s also possible to swim along the river between where the A4103 and A438
Type: River/pool
Opening times: Open all day

Three Shires Head, Staffordshire
From Clough House Farm, SK11 0BD
Location: Wild swimming Staffordshire – walking map to Three Shires Head wild swimming:

Facilities: Park at the postcode above and follow the walking route
Access: It’s more of a hike and swim, but makes for a great day out on the River Dane. You’ll find the waterfall pools marked as Three Shires Head on the OS map that you can swim in. If you’re looking for some good Peak District wild swimming, then this is it.
Type: River/pool
Opening times: Open all day

North-East England

11. Warkworth Beach, Northumberland

Postcode: NE65 0SW

On a calm day, this is one of the most stunning beaches you could ever find yourself visiting. It’s a sandy beach with wonderful views out to Coquet Island which is an RSPB reserve. Here you’ll find a free car park available for 100 cars a very close 500m away from the beach (map location here). From here, walk onto the beach and you’ll find many spots to swim. Be sure to check tide times before visiting. These can be found here. There are no facilities except for toilets at the beach car park itself, but you are very close to Warkworth, which is well worth a visit too – the castle is incredible and the whole place feels steeped in history. It’s some of the best wild swimming Northumberland has to offer.

12. Cresswell Beach, Northumberland

Postcode: NE61 5LF

This beautiful, long sandy beach is a real treat on the Northumbrian Coastline and in fact, has been classed as one of the best beaches in the country. What’s great as well is that it’s often protected from the wind that little bit more due to its expanse and the large dunes that shelter it. It makes a perfect place to spend the day too – swimming is much better at higher tide, but once the tide starts to go out, you’ll find many rocks start to become exposed with rock pools which are great to spot sea life. This is also a great area for bird watching. Entry to the water is pretty simple – anywhere you can see in front of you at the beach is good and you’re best visiting closer to high tide when the water is much further in – be sure to check tide times before visiting here.

A car park is located just to the right of the beach, at the same post code as above on Beach Road. It’s never particularly busy, and you’ll find toilets and a café too.

Highly Recommended for Open Water Swimming in North-East England

Boulmer Beach, Alnwick
NE66 3BL
Location: Good swimming places – map location from car park to Boulmer Beach
Facilities: Small car park that becomes full very quickly, very easy to access the beach
Access: The car park is located at the above postcode and from here it’s a really short walk to the beautiful cove that is Boulmer Beach
Type: Saltwater/beach
Opening times: Open all day

Lake District

13. Buttermere Lake

Postcode: CA13 9XA
Location: Swimming map to Buttermere Lake here

Without a doubt one of the most picturesque lakes in the Lake District and one of the best swimming lakes the UK has to offer. The lake isn’t particularly deep for a very long way out, so it’s a great one to get some confidence in and just makes for an all round beautiful experience.

When you are in the car park, you’ll see signs for Buttermere Lake. The path is flat and well graded – suitable for wheelchairs, trampers and other mobility devices. At the car park, there are public toilets with disabled access and baby changing facilities. Check the National Trusts website for up to date parking charges etc.

buttermere lake in the lake district cumbria

14. Blea Tarn, Little Langdale

Postcode: LA22 9JU
Location: Places to wild swim – map of Blea Tarn National Trust car park here

Blea Tarn feels back to the wild – it’s a lot quieter, is a lot smaller and has some of the most wonderful views looking out over into the mountains surrounding. It’s actually one of the most photographed lakes in the Lake District as at certain times of day, dependent on the weather, can have mirror reflections which are absolutely majestic. A swim in Blea Tarn is always guaranteed to be peaceful, and it’s actually a really lovely tarn to swim across (usually from the opposite shore to the car park over to the shore closest to the car park). There are also some great walks you can do in the area too, making this a great option for a day’s adventure.

There are only spaces for 16 cars at the car park and is free for National Trust members; chargeable otherwise. Keep in mind, at the time of publishing, the car park is cash only – you’ll need roughly pound coins for this. No toilets or changing facilities. The path to the swimming spot is fairly well marked. You can swim from anywhere along the lake, but I prefer to walk around the other side from the car park where there are trees and a nice beach to enter the water from.

blea tarn in the lake district cumbria

15. Rayrigg Meadow, Windermere

Postcode: LA23 1BP

Some of the best wild swimming the UK has to offer and if you live in nearby Kendal, this is likely your nearest swimming lake. Rayrigg Meadow is one of most picturesque spots on Windermere with some of the most beautiful fell views you’ll see. It’s also a recognised bathing spot, and the water is tested very frequently by the environmental agency. The gravel beach and gentle entry makes this spot a great beginner and returning spot as you’ll never get bored. The water always feels that bit colder as it becomes deep very quickly (by the time you’ve reached the jetty, you can’t touch the bottom). On a hot summer day, the jetty is particularly good for taking a jump from (once you’ve acclimated of course).

A fairly large car park with spaces for up to 50 vehicles (including 5 disabled spaces) is available at Rayrigg Meadow and is open 7 days a week. For up to date costs and restrictions, please visit the councils website. Where to swim? The walk to the lake from the car park is pretty easy, but not always obvious. Facing in the direction of the lake, walk straight in front of you from the car park to join the path. Take a left and follow this around, you’ll come to some steps made in the hill. A short walk down here reveals the shoreline with a jetty. This is where you’ll swim from – its some of the best lake swimming the UK has to offer.

Places to swim: Location for Rayrigg Meadow car park here.

22 Best Places for Wild Swimming - Rayrigg Meadow Windermere Rgb

Highly Recommended for Open Water Swimming in the Lake District

Easedale Tarn
Park in the village of Grasmere, area code LA22, various car parks available
Location: Lake with beach – walking map from Grasmere to Easedale Tarn:

Facilities: Public toilets, cafes and other amenities in the village of Grasmere
Access: This wild swimming location is more of a hike and swim, and involves a hill walk to get there up uneven stone stairs and a decent distance. However, if that’s within your ability, you’ll be rewarded by stunning views of the mountains and a potential waterfall pool on your way up. Once you reach the tarn, you’ll find a little beach area in various spots that you can walk down to and swim from
Type: Freshwater lake
Opening times:
Parking subject to local restrictions, check the South Lakeland website for more details

Wast Water, Seascale
No postcode for the lake, but this Google Map will get you there
Facilities: No toilets, parking is by the side of the road
Access: There is only one side of Wast Water with a road, so you’ll drive along until you find a pull in spot (there are numerous pulls ins along the road for a couple of cars) and walk down to the shore to swim from. Great option if you’re also in the area to hike Scafell Pike, Great Gable etc.
Type: Freshwater lake
Opening times:
No restrictions

Location: Location map for Ullswater here
Facilities: Parking for very few cars at various points by the side of the road
Access: You’ll pull in by the side of the road, then walk down to the shore of the lake. You can swim anywhere from here.
Type: Freshwater lake
Opening times:
No restrictions

North-West England

16. Formby Beach, Liverpool

Postcode: L37 2EB

This National Trust Nature Reserve is an incredible spot with sand dunes that on a sunny day will make you feel like you are somewhere in the South of France. The beautiful coastal views make for a great, calming swim and somewhere to enjoy and make a day of it. The great thing about this spot is the water doesn’t get particularly deep for a way out, making it a fantastic spot to try out if you’re new to sea swimming or open water swimming. If you’ve found yourself looking for wild swimming spots in Liverpool, then this is a great option!

There are numerous options to get to Formy Beach. By car, you can park at Lifeboat Road car park. From there, walk down Lifeboat Road in the direction of the sea and you’ll find the beach to swim from. The car park is open from 9am until 5pm but you can exit at any time. It has an accessible toilet and free parking for Blue Badge holders. Check the National Trust website for more details on car park pricing. By train, you can take the Merseyrail to Southport and alight at Freshfield where it’s about a 20 minute walk to the beach.

17. West Kirby Beach, Wirral

Postcode: CH48 OQG

This beach is a great example of just what is on offer in the urbanised area of Liverpool and Wirral. It’s a pretty spot which is easily accessible making it a popular spot for locals and those living in the city centre. It’s a long sandy beach with dunes facing the Irish Sea. It’s worth keeping in mind too that at low tide, the water can be a very long way out and much lower, so it’s better to visit closer to high tide or just after high tide. You can find out more information about tide times for West Kirby Beach here to help you plan your visit.

There is a car park really close to the beach on the peninsula and there is also on street parking in the area with approximately 200 parking spaces along the promenade. There are no facilities as such at the beach, but there are lots of cafes and shops in West Kirby itself.

Highly Recommended for Open Water Swimming in North-West England

Leasowe Bay
CH46 2RH
Location: Nature swimming – Location map for Gunsite car park here
Facilities: Free parking behind the beach with parking spaces facing the sea. Leasowe rail station is roughly a mile from the beach. Map location here
Access: You’ll walk down to the beach and swim from anywhere that looks good to you. The tide can be very far out at low tide so best to visit closer to high tide. Check tide times here
Type: Saltwater/beach
Opening times: No restrictions


18. Loch Voil, Balquhidder, on the edges of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

Postcode: G32 9HR
Location: Outdoor swimming spots – map location for Loch Voil here

If you find the idea of gin clear water and breathtaking alpine views appealing, then you’ll like swimming at Loch Voil. Whilst the swimming spot is right next to the road, it is little visited. Some of the best wild swimming Scotland has to offer!

There are numerous spots you can swim from on Loch Voil, but some of my favourites are from about half way along the lake – here you’ll find various pull in spots where you can cross the small road and get down to the shore. This makes Loch Voil a brilliantly accessible spot once you’re there, it’s quiet and somewhere you would willingly want to spend all day. Particularly nice in the evening once the golden light starts to drop down over the mountains that keep the loch company. I don’t think I’ve ever forgotten how this place felt for cold water swimming. Be mindful that some of the spots that look like they would work for parking are actually passing places and you should not park there as the road is very narrow – these are well signposted. There are also some areas that are private, which are also clearly marked. There are no facilities here, so come prepared. No charges for parking.

loch voil wild swimming scotland

19. Loch Lubnaig, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

Postcode: G83 7DL
Location: Location maps for main and secondary car parks for Loch Lubnaig

Loch Lubnaig is a really popular spot for open water swimmers, and it really isn’t hard to see why. The water is exceptionally clean and it becomes deep really quickly making it feel utterly refreshing all year round. From both car parks, it’s really easy to see where to enter the water – you can literally see it from your car. Some of the most exceptional wild swimming Scotland has to offer.

There are two car parks that service Loch Lubnaig – one has a small café and toilets, and the other is just a car park. I actually think that the secondary car park, just a little further down the road (depending on direction of travel is a nicer spot (and often quieter) to swim from. You do have to pay for the car parks and I’d recommend checking prices and opening times on the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park Authority website. However, the visitor centre is only open until 5pm and the car parks shut around the same time, meaning you’ll need to get there earlier to enjoy. The machine only takes cash, but you can pay at the cabin with the café. If you want to use the smaller car park away from the café, and only have card, you’ll need to pay at the visitor centre first to get your ticket. This maybe sounds overly complicated, but it’s worth carrying some change for this purpose.

loch lubnaig wild swimming scotland

20. Firkin Point, Loch Lomond

Postcode: G83 7DL
Location: Outdoor swimming places – location for Firkin Point car park here

An iconic spot along Loch Lomond itself to swim from – and especially nice on a hazy or slightly foggy day as it just feels pretty special, it really is some of the best outdoor swimming Scotland has to offer. However, if you’ve looked for places you can swim on Loch Lomond, there’s a good chance this may not even have come up. Entry into the water is really straightforward with small stones which make it easy to walk straight in to the cold water. You’ll also find a lovely beach area where you can sit and enjoy the views as you warm up or dry off. The large car park makes this cold water swimming location great all day. Firkin Point is between Inverbeg and Tarbet, and also doubles as a picnic spot with camping pitches too. It should be obvious when you arrive at the car park where the loch shore is, and you can set off from anywhere along here. I prefer to take a right as you get down to the shore at its more private.

The large car park is a stones throw from this wildwater swimming spot. Parking charges are enforceable, and I’d recommend checking prices and opening times on the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority website.

firkin point on loch lomond scotland wild swimming

Highly Recommended for Open Water Swimming in Scotland

St. Ninians Isle Beach, Shetland
St Ninians Isle Car Park, ZE2 9JA
Location: Beach to swim – location map for St. Ninians Isle Beach, Shetland here
Facilities: Free car park with 25 spaces
Access: It’s a natural sand causeway with sea on either side that you can swim from – some of the most stunning wild swimming Scotland has to offer
Type: Sea swimming
Opening times:
All year, no restrictions

Fairypools, Glenbrittle on the Isle of Skye
Car park at Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye IV47 8TA
Location: Wild swimming Scotland – location map for Fairypools, Isle of Skye here
Facilities: Small car park and near by Glenbrittle Campsite has a café and toilets
Access: You can reach this iconic cold water swimming spot a short walk from the car park
Type: Sea swimming
Opening times:
All year, no restrictions

Falls of Falloch, Stirling
Car park at trailhead, FK20 8RX
Location: Map for Falls of Falloch wild swimming here. Very close to Loch Lubnaig and could be combined.
Facilities: If you’re looking for rivers to swim in near Stirling or Glasgow, this is a great one to try. Glenbrittle Campsite has a café and toilets
Access: As you leave the car park, you’ll head out for a short walk on a trail through the forest and start to get a look at the River Falloch. You’ll soon turn downhill to reach a footbridge where you’ll find the pools you can swim and dip in
Type: Sea swimming
Opening times:
All year, no restrictions


21. Silver Strand and Malin Beg, Co. Donegal

Postcode: Beach to swim: no postcode, but the beach can be located on maps here.

This stunning bay is beyond picturesque, it’s quiet and feels a world away from the busy we often find ourselves in. Plus, if you’re looking for a break, it’s a great spot to enjoy for the day as it has no phone reception! The fact that the water is within a bay with steep sided cliffs makes this an ideal spot which will be generally much calmer.

The beach can be accessed from the parking area via some steep steps, so this isn’t the most accessible spot, but if you can make it down, it is well worth it. You’ll park in the free parking area facing the bay – the path down is obvious from here. There is a porta loo but no other facilities nearby.

22. Forty Foot, Dublin

Postcode: No postcode, but map location here.

If you’ve ever found yourself looking for swimming spots if you’re anywhere near Dublin, there is a good chance that you’ve heard of the Forty Foot. It’s an institution in the local area and some say it has been used for swimming for over 250 years. Because of it’s rocky nature, it’s important to keep an eye on warning signs – and also keep an eye on what the tide and water is doing at the time you visit. Once you’re at the Forty Foot, you can either jump off straight into the water, or take some steps down into the water with added hand rail to make getting in easier. Because the water can stay quite fresh all year round, I would advise you to always acclimate first with the steps, and if you fancy jumping in, to do this toward the end of your swim so as not to shock your body.

If you’re driving, you can park nearby around Windsor Terrace (map location to Forty Foot here) or Eden Park (map location to Forty Foot here). You’ll need to pay for both and they’re both roughly 20-25 minutes walk to the Forty Foot. You can also travel by public transport and take the DART from Dublin city centre to Sandycove. Check for times here. It’s a roughly 15 minute walk to the Forty Foot from here – map information and route can be found here.

There are toilet facilities at Sandycove Point (map location here).

forty foot dublin swimming

Highly Recommended for Open Water Swimming in Ireland

Lough Ree, Westmeath
Lough Ree Park Walking Trail (map location here)
Facilities: The Lough Ree Inn nearby for refreshments
Access: Park at the location above and you can access the water from any point around the head.
Type: Open water/lake swimming
Opening times: All year, no restrictions

Killary Fjord, County Gallway
Address: Park as close to the water as you can in Leenaun (map location here)
Facilities: There are no facilities
Access: Park as close to the water as you can in Leenaun and you can enter the water from the small gravel beach areas there
Type: Seawater/lake swimming
Opening times: All year, no restrictions

Enjoy Wild Swimming

Whether you call it wild swimming or cold water swimming, it has become incredibly popular over recent years and it really isn’t hard to see why – it really does make you feel fantastic and it’s the ultimate adventure in calming nature. If you often find yourself thinking ‘where can I go swimming?’, I hope this list has given you some great pointers of places to try to get your cold water swimming fix. Hopefully, from there, you can stumble upon some of your own wild swimming spots too. Finding wild swimming spots isn’t always easy, but incredibly rewarding when you get to experience the benefits of swimming outside, in nature!