You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Searches for This Type of Activity Are Up 179% this Summer, Here's 11 Places to Try It

Women's Health UK logo Women's Health UK 22/06/2022 Morgan Fargo

It's hot, people – and it's set to get hotter. Besides eschewing bras and anything that clings, wild swimming might be the best thing to offer some sweet relief. According to data from the Lake District's Daffodil Hotel, searches for wild swimming are up 179% over the last year with another 22% bump since Spring. Wowza.

If paddling amongst nature sounds right up your street and reaping the myriad benefits of swimming, keep reading. We've got everything you need to know about where to do it legally, how to do it safely and what to know before you go. Oh, and 11 epic spots to go wild swimming in the UK too, of course.

What is a wild swim?

Wild swimming is anything that has no man-made elements involved. That means water slides are out – but you already knew that, didn't you?

Seriously though, wild swimming is anything that's done in natural surroundings. 'No lanes or structures, just natural pools and lakes,' says Laura Owen Sanderson, founder and director of We Swim Wild and wild swimming guide at The Little Retreat.

Is wild swimming legal in the UK?

Knowing where you should and shouldn't swim is important and could keep you out of trouble and free from any cross words. Listen to Owen Sanderson's expert advice on how to know where (and where not to get wet).

'Only 3% of waterways in the UK are public and “legal” to swim in, but landowners tend to be accommodating to swimmers as long as they are being considerate to the surrounding environment. You should always keep an eye out for signs that strictly forbid swimming, and if in doubt ask!' she says.

All the spots on our wild swimming list are A-OK to go for a paddle but if you strike out on your own, make sure to check.

Is wild swimming dangerous in the UK?

'Like any outdoor pursuit, it’s important to do your research. Everywhere is different so use resources online such as our website We Swim Wild for safety advice and check out the area yourself to find the best and safest spots,' says Owen Sanderson.

Here are her three top tips to make it as safe an experience as possible.

1. Have an in and out strategy

'A safe entry and exit point are really important. Cold water lowers your mobility so you want to find water that has gentle shelving and no steep banks so that you could roll yourself out of the water if needs be.

2. Pick your timing

'Sea swimming can be the most dangerous because of the tide, same with other tidal waters. The best time to swim in tidal water is the hour before high tide which is known as a slack tide. This is because there is less movement in the water at this point, and if you do get caught you’re going to be pushed onto the beach rather than dragged out into the open.'

3. Make it social

'And bring a friend – not just for the company and memories, but you can keep an eye out for each other.'

What do you need for wild swimming?

Some people like to go in starkers but we're going to guess the majority of you will need some swimwear to cover your bits.

More technically, though, there is some equipment that will make your swim a lot more comfortable, says Owen Sanderson.

'Your extremities are the parts of the body that will lose heat first, so a set of neoprene gloves and boots are really beneficial for wild swimming. In the UK the water will only ever reach around 16ºC which is considered cold water, so gloves and boots are really useful all year round.'

'For winter think about wearing a hat and wetsuit and beyond that anything that will make you more comfortable out in the water.'

4 wild swimming tips for beginners

  1. Don’t go alone on your first trip
  2. Be cautious of rivers as there may be currents or rocks you can’t see
  3. Give yourself time to acclimatise to the cooler temperatures, don't worry you will adjust
  4. Tell a loved one a time when you expect at which you’ll be finished and be in contact

11 places to go wild swimming in the UK

So, here we go. The spots we think you should go wild swimming this summer. Read on!

1. London: Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds, Hampstead

Hamstead heath mixed pond Hamstead heath mixed pond

For any London locals, especially North Londoners, it doesn’t get more convenient than the Hampstead Heath ponds. Choose between the ladies pond – an anxiety-free oasis at the top of the Heath – or if you’re going in a mixed group there’s a pond near Hamstead Heath overground station, instead. Both are situated well away from the park edges, so you'll be free from traffic noise and able to tread water (or stroke it out) in peace.

2. Greater London: Frensham Great Pond, Farnham

Frensham great pond Frensham great pond

If you’re ready to go a little further afield, the Frensham Great Pond in Farnham is the spot. Enjoy the sandy beach and swim to your heart's delight but make sure to stay within the market areas. Sad news for dog owners, pooches are personae non gratae. We suggest getting there earlier rather than later to avoid car parking disappointment.

3. East Anglia: River Waveney, Suffolk

wild swimming in the uk © EdwinRosier wild swimming in the uk

Plumped for Suffolk for your British summer adventure? Well, the Waveney River is a vista of salt marshes and vast horizons to get wonderfully wet in. Head for the two-mile loop around Outney Common for the perfect day out.

4. South West: Warleigh Weir, Somerset

wild swimming in the uk © Rod Lawton wild swimming in the uk

A popular spot amongst wild swimming enthusiasts, Warleigh Weir is a place of extraordinary natural beauty, brilliant if you want to feel one with nature. Somerset Live says there's a pretty large field next to the weir for sunbathing, too. Consider us sold.

5. South West: Various locations, Cornwall

1431735816863-lansallos-path-down-to-the-beach-1400x788-george-taylor 1431735816863-lansallos-path-down-to-the-beach-1400x788-george-taylor

Unsurprisingly Cornwall is full of picturesque locations, suitable for a few different things. If your goal is to get back into the sea, Lansallos Cove is a secluded spot to be found at the end of a woodland walk.

Alternatively – sticking with the River Fowey that ends in the Lansallos area – head to the woodlands north of the coast to Golitha Falls. Here, you’ll find a plunge pool and shallower areas. However, be wary of currents. Only swim if you feel confident.

6. East Midlands: River Derwent, Derbyshire

gettyimages-566432531 © Loop Images - Getty Images gettyimages-566432531

Whether you choose to take a stroll in Chatsworth House gardens first and then go for a swim or vice versa, chances are you're going to have a real day to remember wild swimming in the River Derwent. There are tree swings to catapult into the water The Notebook-style, too. We love.

7. Midlands: Bosworth Water Park, Birmingham

Andreas-gucklhorn-wild swimming Andreas-gucklhorn-wild swimming

Less than 30 miles from Birmingham is Bosworth Water Park near Nuneaton. Built in 2015 it prides itself on 'bringing the seaside inland.'Open every day except Christmas Day, the 50-acre site has countryside walks and 20 acres or water. Entry is free and you can even camp on site.

8. North East: Lake District

Tongue pot wild swimming Tongue pot wild swimming

The clues in the name with this pick. The Lake District is full of hidden gems, pools, waterfalls and streams to swim through. Tongue Pot for example is 5m deep with epic jumping spots – for those who want to get fully submerged. Keep exploring the Eskdale area for more secret pools.

Travel further north to one of the main lakes, Westwater for some seriously epic scenery, as well as campsite options.

9. South Wales: Various Locations, Brecon Beacons

wild swimming in the uk © James Osmond wild swimming in the uk

Venture to the Brecon Beacons to admire more than just the South Wales mountain range. In this national park, you’ll find two very special swimming spots including Sgwd Gwladys (also known as Lady Falls) – a beautiful natural 10m waterfall in a deep lake in the hills and Pen-y-Fan a stretch of magical shallow water flowing through the hillside.

10. North Wales: Various Locations, Snowdonia

Wild swimming snowdonia Wild swimming snowdonia

A trip to North Wales can include more than an upwards climb and a Kendal mint cake addiction. There is a near-endless selection of beaches, coves and lakes to choose from. So, let’s narrow it down.

Black Rock Sands beach is a beautiful wide coastline with seaside walks and even direct access from Haven’s Greenacres holiday park (seriously convenient). If you’re game for some lake swimming head into the mountains to Llynnau Mymbyr (twin lakes on the outskirts of Capel Curig) boasting one of the most iconic views in Snowdonia.

Or, paddle about in Llyn Glaslyn, a heart-shaped lake halfway up Snowdon – the perfect stop-off spot during your walk up the mountain.

11. Scotland: Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye

wild swimming in the uk © Philippe Clément wild swimming in the uk

The Isle of Skye is on many a bucket list but did you know you could have the swim of your life there, too? A super popular attraction, the Fairy Pools have underwater arches and a backdrop of sweeping mountains. What more could you want? (One thing to know: it does get chilly so think about a wetsuit to beat the cold.)

Visit for even more ideas on where to get back to nature.

Cut through the noise and get practical, expert advice, home workouts, easy nutrition and more direct to your inbox. Sign up to the WOMEN'S HEALTH NEWSLETTER


More from Women's Health UK

Women's Health UK
Women's Health UK
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon