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10 of Britain’s best wild swimming spots
From haunted lakes to tidal pools and cliff diving spots, we can help you take a dip this weekend.
The weather is hotting up – grab your speedos and dive into some of the best wild swimming spots Britain has to offer...
Word of caution: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, SH₂OUT (a partnership between British Triathlon, Swim England and RLSS UK), advise those who are new to open water swimming not to go open water swimming outside of an operated and supervised venue which has a safety crew (many of these are not open currently). Before swimming in any of the below spots, you should read the guidance here for open water swimmers in England, Scotland and Wales, and ensure appropriate safety precautions are taken.
Bude Sea Pool, Cornwall, England
If you want a gentle introduction to wild swimming, this part-natural, part-manmade pool built in the 1930s is for you. Bude Sea Pool is filled by tides from the Atlantic Ocean and is open all year round. However, pool staff are only available in the high season from Easter to October (10am-6pm). Entrance is free.
Find it: Summerleaze Beach, Bude, EX23 8HN.
Blue Lagoon, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Both thrill seekers and swimmers will enjoy a splash in the Blue Lagoon in Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire. Grey slate gives the breached 25m-deep quarry pool a brilliant blue colour. The remains of the old quarry building also make great platforms to jump from. We love it so much that we even held a round of the Red Bull Cliff Diving series there back in 2013.
Find it: Park in Abereiddy off the A487, and follow the acorn signs to the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.
Pedn Vounder, Treen, West Cornwall
Daniel Start, author of Hidden Beaches, rates Pedn Vounder as one of the most beautiful beaches in Cornwall. Even its name sounds cool! It is a tidal beach, though, so check what the water’s going to be doing before you go – otherwise it will be a case of less sand, more swimming. Due to its secluded position you may also get more than you bargained for – it’s a popular spot with naturists according to Conde Nast Traveller!
Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland
If you can stand the cold, the beautiful Fairy Pools are a must-see in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides. A succession of pools and waterfalls await you as you trek up towards the source of the River Brittle on the Isle of Skye. Less hardy souls might want to take a wetsuit!
Find it: Get the ferry from Mallaig, or try the road bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh. On the road to Loch Brittle follow the Forestry Commision signs to “Fairy Pools.” The walk to the pools is about 2.4km.
Hampstead Heath, London, England
Old reservoirs might not sound like the most inspiring places to swim, but it’s good to know that even Londoners can get their wild swimming fix! Three of the 30-odd ponds on Hampstead Heath are open to the public and are fed by the River Fleet. There are separate pools for men and women as well as a mixed pool. Swimmers here love the heath so much they even went to the High Court in 2004 to oppose a move to close the pools.
The men’s and ladies’ swimming ponds are open all year round until dusk. Entrance to the bathing ponds will set you back £2 for adults, £1 concessions.
Find it: Hampstead Heath, London, NW5 1QR.
Treyarnon Bay Tidal Pool, Cornwall, England
The Marine Conservation Society Good Beach Guide recommended Treyarnon Beach in 2014, praising its excellent water quality – and who are we to argue with them? But it’s not just the beach that’s worth coming for. Check out that tidal rock pool! Take care at high tide, though, as the pools become dangerous when waves can come crashing over the sides. From mid to high tide the beach is also popular with surfers – but watch out for rips!
Find it: Drive in the direction of Porthcothan and take a minor lane signposted Treyarnon. Near the bay there is a carpark. Here it is on the map.
Llyn y Fan Fach, Brecon Beacons, Wales
Those easily spooked might want to give Llyn y Fan Fach in the Brecon Beacons a miss – supposedly it’s one of the most haunted bodies of water in Wales! Local legend says that at 2pm on the first Sunday in August, the ‘Lady of the Lake’ – rumoured to be a woman killed by her violent husband – emerges from the water. Hmmm...we’re thinking: Sunday in August in Wales – it’s probably just the dayglow white body of one of the local swimmers!
Find it: The lake is a bit of an uphill hike so be prepared. Brecon Beacons National Park, Llangadog, Carmarthenshire SA19
River Frome, Somerset, England
Go swimming with a moorhen or two in Somerset’s River Frome. Join the Farleigh and District Swimming Club and enter a proud tradition of wild swimming that dates back to the 1930s. They operate a payment system: £1 for adults and 50p for kids.
Find it: A366, 4 miles west of Trowbridge. Park at the top of Vaggis Hill, here.
Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland
Catch a wave or soak up the sun on this two-mile stretch of white sand in County Londonderry on the north coast of Northern Ireland, named one of the UK’s best beaches by Rough Guides. If you tire of swimming, it’s also a National Trust conservation site so you can check out the butterflies and wild pansy flowers, if you dig that sort of thing. Or for something a bit different try your hand at slacklining.
Linhope Spout, Northumberland, England
What’s not to love about a 60ft chute of water? A “bottomless” plunge pool beneath is also great for anyone who wants to dive or jump from a 6ft high ledge.
Find it: Turn off the A697 at the junction to Ingram. Follow the valley road and park before starting the walk at Hartside Farm. Start the walk at O.S Grid Reference: NT 976 163. A map is available here.
If we’ve inspired you to get wild about swimming, check out Wild Swimming for more of the world’s best outdoor spots.
And if we’ve missed your favourite spot, let us know on Twitter @RedBullUK
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More adventures in the wild...
Phillippa Stewart is a multimedia journalist who loves travel and adventure. Phillippa is also partial to riding a bike, albeit slowly and with lots of snack stops. This tactic seems to be successful as she has cycled 10,000 miles from Malaysia to London. Find out more about her at www.PhillippaStewart.com and follow her on Twitter @PStewart_