When I’m not in the Snaptrip office you can often find me swimming. Around work I usually manage to fit in a few laps of the pool but whenever the opportunity arises I love to get out into the wild. Wild swimming is a passion I have found in the last couple of years and it is broadly defined as the ‘activity of swimming for pleasure in natural waters, typically rivers and lakes’. It can be a liberating experience, but also daunting to those new to the sport. It’s a lot of fun, but to keep it that way there are a few sensible precautions wild swimmers should take. In this regard the most valuable resource I’ve found is the ‘Survive’ section of The Outdoor Swimming Society’s website. When is comes to places to try wild swimming, the UK has some wonderful spots that will take your breath away; and not just because it’s cold! People are always asking me where to try wild swimming so I decided to write this piece. These stunning places below include some of my favourite places to swim as well as locations that are firmly on my bucket list.
Where to try wild swimming
1. How to wild swim at Sanna Bay?
On the west coast of Scotland; 40 minutes from Glenborrodale
This Scottish gem is reputedly on of the most stunning beaches and Scotland; and that is quite the claim with so many beautiful beaches to choose from here. If you want to take the ‘wild’ of wild swimming seriously, this is a brilliant place to try. Facing west, out to the Atlantic, the weather can be changeable and even in the summer swimmer should go prepared for chilly waters. However, the breathtaking surroundings could easily be from a land far-way and are most certainly worth the journey. Expect soft white sand, crystal clear waters and maybe even some wildlife to spot too.
2. How to wild swim at Kisdon Force?
In the Yorkshire Dales; 45 minutes from Sedburgh
Very different to the gently lapping waves, this waterfall has ‘force’ as part of it’s name for a reason. You may be able to hear it before you see it; it certainly is a sight to behold. As part of the River Swale in the Yorkshire Dales, this beautiful, secluded spot can be reached by a short walk from Keld. There is parking in the village and it’s on a donation basis so please be generous. The short walk will help you get warm before plunging into cool waters. It is an idyllic spot and I believe the water can be deep enough to jump into, however on my visit the water was flowing to fast to permit more than a paddle. The local Youth Hostel does some good and simple grub, including a mean cheese toasty, if you need post swim refreshments.
3. How to wild swim at Wastwater, Lake District?
In the Lake District; 45 minutes from Broughton-in-Furness
The deepest, and arguably most breathtaking, lake in the Lake District is Wastwater. At 260 feet deep and sitting in the shadow of Scafel Pike, this is a magnificent lake. Swimming is permitted here, but be sure to help native wildlife but following the National Park’s check, clean, dry policy. It can get busy in summer months, especially with walkers who are heading up one of the surrounding climbs. However, even this can struggle to spoil the remote feeling of this wild place. The last time I was here, I was also unable to swim so despite experiencing the beauty of this place swimming here remains firmly on my bucket list.
4. How to wild swim at Shepperton Lake?
In Surrey; an hour from central London
If you’re keen to try wild swimming, but are a little nervous of open water, this might just be the perfect place for you. Hidden down a dirt track in leafy Surrey this gem is reachable from London but feels like a world away. It is only open for swimming at certain times of the week, and only over the summer; so check their website before you venture there. It’s a fiver to swim, and they will look after your car keys while you swim. There are people watching out for swimmers in distress and a small area where you can buy hot drinks and snacks (it’s all cash only). However, although there is some infrastructure and an amazing community to get support from, this place is one of the more wild lakes set up for training. You’ll be swimming under the sky with views of tree tops and ducklings for company. If you’re looking for wild swimming companions, this place is the friendliest place I’ve ever swum.
5. How to wild swim at Bude Sea Pool?
On the north coast of Cornwall; 40 minutes from Launceston
Some might not count this as wild swimming, after all is is a pool. However, when the tide is high and the waves are crashing, I’m sure it feels pretty wild. In fact swimming is not recommended when this is the case. For anyone nervous about leaving the safety of chlorinated water and four walls, this sea pools offer a wonderful diving in point. Unheated, seawater and with nothing but the sky overhead, this is somewhere I have been eager to experience for a long time. A breathtaking mix of man-made and mother nature, Bude Sea Pool has been welcoming swimmer since the 1930s. It is free to swim here, but the facility is run by a charity who saved it from demolition in 2010 so donations are most welcome to help keep the magic alive. It’s a little safer than being totally out in the wild but, I am lead to believe, every bit as invigorating.