It might seem at odds with the British weather, but come rain or shine, outdoor swimming is an amazing experience – one not to be missed. Experienced or novice swimmers alike can enjoy the numerous benefits of wild swimming, all while experiencing the sights and sounds of the UK’s beautiful and rural landscapes.
Still hesitant? We don’t blame you! Jumping into ice cold water, bright and early in the morning might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But we think once you take a look at our top spots for wild swimming, you might just change your mind.
Scotland and Cumbria
1. Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland
If you’re looking to make a trip out of your wild swimming adventure, then look no further than the Fairy Pools nestled in the Isle of Skye. A hearty 11 hour drive from London, this isn’t for the less-equipped traveller. But the Instagram-worthy view alone is worth the journey! Beautiful clear waters surrounded by a stunning landscape, this secluded spot is the perfect location to learn to love the cold.
Tip: We’d advise to take a good pair of shoes to wear in the water, as the rocks may be sharp when you’re on the rocks!
2. Lacy’s Caves, Penrith, Cumbria
Fancy a wild swim with a little bit of adventure? Lacy’s Caves in Cumbria is the spot for you. The water can be entered with a brave jump from a rock stack, known locally as the Tower, or use one of the empty mine shafts for a run-up and leap out from the trees. But don’t be worried about hitting the river bed, as rumour has it that not even the local scuba divers have ever found the bottom.
Tip: Make sure you thoroughly check the river current before jumping in, as just like the sea, it can be a dangerous thing.
3. Bude Sea Pool, Bude, Cornwall
Make a holiday of this wild swimming spot, as Cornwall has plenty of secluded and beautiful places to swim. Our favourite has to be Bude Sea pool, a part-natural, part-manmade pool built in the 1930s. Filled by the tides from the Atlantic Ocean, this is a great introduction to wild swimming.
Tip: Whilst you’re here, why not try out surfing as well? With plenty of established surf schools you’ll be spoilt for choice. We can’t think of a better reason to visit Cornwall!
4. St. Nectan’s Glen, Tintagel, Cornwall
For a holiday of true escapism, head down to North Cornwall and explore the natural beauty and seclusion of St. Nectan’s Glen. Walk through an ancient woodland and discover the behemoth that is a sixty foot waterfall. If you’re into local legends, then rumour has it the waterfalls possess healing qualities, and are watched over by the past guardians of the glen.
5. Rhaeadr Mawddach, Gwynedd, Wales
Going away with a group of friends? Plan a day of activities with a wild swim incorporated, then spend a day at Rhaeadr Mawddach. Sweat it out with friends with a ride along the mountain bike trail before taking a dip beneath the power of the waterfall. Do be careful when the levels are high though, as the water can be quite turbulent.
Tip: The forest’s former mine once provided gold for the Royal Family’s wedding rings, so if you pan the water carefully enough, you may just hit gold!
If you don’t mind walking well off the beaten track, take a train to Fairbourne, and shortly find yourself at this hidden gem. This hiking spot can be tricky to find but the sight on the other side, with it’s blue lagoon waters, is still worth the trip even if you don’t brave a dip.
Tip: Follow Beach Road to the A493 and keep walking until you reach a dead-end road called Fford Panteinion. On the right you’ll find a footpath that leads you through an eerie tunnel.
Wild Swimming Tips
If you’ve already experienced your first wild swim, then you’ll know that the waters can be a little icier than the local swimming pool. When your face is submerged, the shock can cause the lungs to contract and therefore breathing becomes difficult. However, by blowing bubbles as you make contact, can help alleviate the shock.
Make sure to bring a suitable wetsuit to help combat the cold and allow you to remain in the water for longer. You could also bring swim accessories like our Silver Slick Triathlon swimming goggles to explore the mystery of the water beneath. Don’t forget, you’ll also need a set of warm clothes to bring your body back up to a normal temperature.
Still yet to be convinced? Maybe our ‘Seven Reasons to Love Outdoor Swimming’ may help change your mind.
As with all activities, there are risk factors. It is always advised to enjoy wild water swimming through a formal swimming club where safety measures are in place. Although it is hot outside, it can be deceptively cold in the water even for experienced swimmers. Strong and ever changing currents can also affect the ability of even the strongest of swimmers. For more advice, visit your local Fire and Rescue service website. The Outdoor Swimming Society has also provided some common sense guidelines on how to swim safely.
What other beauty spots have you discovered for wild swimming? Let us know on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Be sure to follow us for more swimming inspiration this summer and if you’re wild swimming with SwimFreak, remember to tag us!