11 wild swimming spots in the UK: Natural places for a dip
Outdoor swimming is having a moment. Freshwater or saltwater, rivers or lakes, under a waterfall or in the ocean; the UK is bursting with these watery beauty spots, and wild swimmers are soaking up their mind-boosting benefits. The great thing about swimming outdoors in the UK is that you’re never far away from a good cafe, pub, national park, meaning that it’s super easy to add a bit of swimming into your holiday, even if you’re not near a beach.
1. Fairy Pools
Location: Isle of Skye
Best for: Peace and quiet
Surrounded by deep mossy bracken and pinkish-tinged rocks, the Isle of Skye’s Fairy Pools really live up to their magical name. There is even an underwater arch to swim through, visible through the beautifully clear water. While the water temperature may tempt you in only on the hottest summer day, it’s one of the most refreshing swim spots on our list.
Place to stay: If you’re looking to add wild swimming to your holiday, then consider a stay at the Greshornish Boathouse, an atmospheric cottage with a stunning location on the shores of Loch Greshornish.
Find holiday cottages in the Isle of Skye here >
2. Linhope Spout
Best for: Rock jumping
Linhope Spout is an ideal swim spot to cool down after a hike, given that the waterfall is a one-and-a-half-hour round-trip walk from the nearest car park. Pack a picnic and stay all day, alternately swin and sunbathe. You may see adventurous bathers taking the plunge from the top of the craggy rocks, but there’s an easier way to walk into the pools, before swimming up a channel to the waterfall itself.
Place to stay: Petty Knowes Cottage is a cosy stone-built property in the heart of the Northumberland National Park, which comes complete with its own hot tub.
Find holiday cottages in Northumberland here >
3. Hampstead Heath
Best for: A city break with a difference
Who says city’s aren’t wild? London has several wild swimming spots, of which the Hampstead Heath Swimming Ponds have to be the most picturesque. With a men’s, women’s and mixed pond available, bathers can take their pick. The single-sex ponds are completely enclosed by trees and nature, giving them a fully private feel with small changing facilities and sun-bathing spots available.
Place to stay: Epping Forest’s countryside village of Loughton gives a rural-London feel, as it has a tube line to take you into the capital in less than 30 minutes. Baldwin’s Hill Cottage is an outstanding choice, right on the edge of the forest.
Find holiday cottages in London here >
4. Llynnau Mymbyr
Best for: Mountain views
From Snowdonia in the north to the Brecon Beacons in the south, Wales isn’t short of outstanding mountain scenery. A swim in any of the cool waters near here will put you in the shadow of giants. The stunning Llynnau Mymbyr is nestled into Snowdon’s horseshoe route, sitting underneath four peaks that hover around 1000 metres tall.
Place to stay: The traditional stone cottage of Pantlleni gives you a home-away-from-home feel, with gorgeous lake views and a wood-burning fire.
Find holiday cottages in Snowdonia here >
Location: Lake District
Best for: A pre-swim hike
You could close your eyes and point to a map of the Lake District, and be guaranteed to land within spitting distance of an unbelievably gorgeous swimming spot. With sixteen main lakes, you could choose the famous Windermere or Keswick’s large Derwentwater, or even plan a trip to tick off all of them. We like the quieter Buttermere, with a location in the northern Lakes that gives you access to some of the park’s finest walking territory.
Place to stay: This House in Cumbria is located on a working farm, with Buttermere village and lake right on the doorstep.
Find holiday cottages in the Lake District here >
6. Blue Lagoon
Best for: Instagrammable blue waters
Named by wild swimmer and journalist Daniel Start as one of his favourite wild wonders on the Welsh Coast, the Blue Lagoon of Abereiddi, Pembrokeshire, is a stunning swimming spot. The bright azure pool was once a slate quarry, and the old wheelhouse now offers ample opportunities for jumping off into the depths. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path will take you to beaches in both directions.
Place to stay: The characterful Log Cabin in West Wales is a cosy glamping pod that benefits from beaches and harbours right on the doorstep.
Find holiday cottages in Pembrokeshire here >
7. Three Shires Head
Location: Peak District
Best for: Taking the kids
Both adults and children alike will be in their element at the Three Shires Head waterfall. This jumble of moss-covered rocks, old bridges and stepping stones counts two larger pools for adults to swim in, two small but steady waterfalls, and lots of paddling potential for children. Keen map-lovers may notice the reason for its name; the waterfalls are the meeting point of three Peak District counties (Staffordshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire).
Place to stay: At the gateway to the Peak District National Park, Swallow Cottage is a romantic choice for two, with underfloor heating and original wooden beams.
Find holiday cottages in the Peak District here >
8. River Thames
Best for: Lovely nearby villages with pubs and cafes
When thinking of the River Thames, a sanitary swimming destination may not be the first thing that springs to mind. But up in the civilised Chiltern Hills, before the river meets the urban sprawl of Reading and then London, you can find tranquillity on its banks. A walk from Pangbourne to Goring will reveal hidden beaches, rolling fields and plenty of leafy shaded spots to dry under.
Place to stay: With the River Thames running through the garden, you have wild swimming out of the back door at gorgeous Thames Reach.
Find holiday cottages in Berkshire here >
9. Prussia Cove
Best for: Open water swimming
Open water swimmers; this one’s for you. Although the summer months do turn Cornwall into a tourist honeypot, the county has so many secret coves, small hidden inlets and tiny swimming spots that you can easily avoid the crowds if you know where to look. Prussia Cove is just one of these places. With a tiny white-sand beach and a pepperpot of rock pools that lead out to the turquoise waters, this intimate place is ideal for a quiet morning swim.
Place to stay: The contemporary and spacious Atlantic View will see you eating breakfast on the balcony, looking right over Penzance’s promenade.
Find holiday cottages in Cornwall here >
10. River Teign
Best for: Nearby pubs and National Trust properties
The long River Teign meanders its way from its source at Dartmoor to Teignmouth (no surprises there) on the South Coast. The section on the moor provides plenty of opportunities for a wild dip. Between Chagford and Steps Bridge a range of weir pools await, while at the tranquil Fingal’s Pool you can swim or float downstream at your leisure.
Place to stay: With a spectacular rural location in the Dartmoor National Park, The Chapel offers a picture-perfect getaway for two.
Find holiday cottages in Devon here >
11. Castle Stalker
Location: Scottish Highlands
Best for: A remote swimming experience
The Scottish Highlands are known for their rugged and heather-swept lochs, all of which are fantastic wild swimming destinations in their own right, with stunning views at every turn. Loch Linnhe makes our list because of its medieval Castle Stalker, which sits in the lake itself, on a small tidal island. A swim around the castle makes for a dip with a difference.
Place to stay: This stunning Cottage in Argyll and Bute will drop you right into movie-set Scotland, with a huge glass front that looks across Loch Linnhe, a dreamy scene of rugged Munros and wild glens.
Find holiday cottages in the Scottish Highlands here >