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10 best ways to go wild swimming in the UK

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Georgina Wilson-Powell

12 July 2017

With the reintroduction of lidos, you'd be forgiven for thinking that we're short on wild swimming spots in the UK. But we're not. You don't have to head for the coast or to a rectangle pool to enjoy lazing around outside in the water. 

The UK is full of beautiful places to dip, dive, paddle and ponder, whether you're looking for a spot to frolic as a family, a full on adventure, a lazy day or to try something new. We've pulled together the 10 top ways to experience wild swimming in the UK, from camping and glamping to full on luxury. Don't be scared of the great outdoors, embrace it.

Go wild swimming in Scotland's Glen Etive

This Highland glen is not far from where James Bond's Skyfall was filmed

Photography | wildswimming.com

Glen Etive, Scotland

“This dramatic glen has many wonderful pink-rock river pools that are easily accessible from the road,” says Daniel Start, author of Wild Swimming: 300 hidden dips in the rivers, lakes and waterfalls of Britain (Wild Things Publishing). “Plunge into the first set of pools or continue down to find the deep gorge section. It’s also a popular valley for wild camping. Turn left a mile after The Kings House Hotel on the A82."

Finn Lough Wild Swimming Northern Ireland

The bubble domes not only have 180 degrees but also four poster beds

Photography | Host Unusual

Finn Lough, Northern Ireland

Northern Irish bubble dome hotel Finn Lough in County Fermanagh has plenty of wild swimming and water options. Guests can fish from the jetty, hire a kayak, work up a sweat on the woodlands trails and cool off at its new wild spa trail which takes in hot pools, saunas and a salt room. Locals have been wild swimming in the lough for centuries.

Plas Bach Wild Swimming UK Pebble Magazine2

A locally sourced breakfast on the cute veranda will set you up for a day of wild swimming

Photography | Canopy & Stars

Plas Bach, Herefordshire

“A stone’s throw from the River Wye, this fully equipped eco-cabin is the perfect base for exploring the watering holes the local Valleys have to offer. Canoeing down The Wye offers beautiful views and a quick stop off for a swim is recommended,” says Katie Young from Canopy & Stars.

Plas Bach might have a romantic manicured garden but it also has orchards, streams and wild ponds nearby plus it’s walking distance to Hay on Wye, for when you’ve worked up an appetite.

Try a wild swimming holiday in Wales with Gone Swimming

Get Gone Swimming to arrange everything for you, they know Wales like no one else

Gone swimming, Wales

Want to try wild swimming but need a helping hand? Why not sign up for a group adventure, wild swimming holiday with Gone Swimming, set up by two women who’ve been floating around the Welsh coastline since they were kids. Gone Swimming organises both day trips and holidays that take in some of the best wild swimming spots north Wales has to offer and if you sign up for a holiday, all the transport, accommodation and food is all taken care of, so all you have to remember is your trunks.

Try wild swimming at Galleny Force in the Lake District

The UNESCO recognised Lake District is full of unspoilt wild swimming spots

Photography | wildswimming.com

Galleny Force, Lake District

“Discover two sets of pools and cascades, with grassy knolls and ancient rowan trees. It’s fun for plunging, snorkelling and picnics,” says Start. “Upstream is Blackmoss Pot, a deep chasm filled with water and a brilliant place for jumps. You pass the Langstrath Country Inn on the way, where you can warm up with an open fire and superb food. There is also a basic riverside campsite just below the falls, so it makes the perfect base for a wild swimming holiday.”

Take a wild dip at Loch Morlich in Scotland

For a really wild swim, camp up in the Cairngorms in Scotland

Loch Morlich, Scotland

Scottish lochs aren’t known for their warmth but get over the temperature (and bring a wetsuit that's suitable for wild swimming) and they’re amazing places to embrace nature in all its glory. Loch Morlich sits at the foot of the Cairngorm mountains in Cairngorm National Park near Inverness. There’s a sandy beach and circular track around the loch.

Try river swimming and glamping at Fforest

Combine river swimming with cute as a button glamping at FForest in Wales. It even has its own pub.

Photography | Host Unusual

FForest, Wales

Posh family glamping farm FForest in Wales is all set up for wild swimming adventures. River swimming is available on the family’s Instagram-perfect rural set up. Their 500 acres borders the Tefif Marsh Wildlife Reserve where you can swim and kayak, and explore this pocket of Wales under your own steam. 

Tudor Farmhouse packs you off with a picnic to do wild swimming in the forest of dean

There's no need to rough it just because you're swimming in the wild

Tudor Farmhouse, Forest of Dean

The Tudor Farmhouse has put together a wild swimming map for those who want to cool off in one of the UK’s prettiest rivers. The hotel has created a map of pretty places to wild swim nearby - whether it’s the sandy bays of Symonds Yat or paddling on the grassy banks of Lugg Meadow. It can even send you off with a fresh water swimming expert if you want to brush up on your otter impression. You’ll be packed off with a picnic made from producers who are from within 20 miles of the hotel.

Courtney Cornwall Wild Swimming Uk Pebble Magazine2

Combine lake swimming with local beaches and surveying your view

Photography | Canopy & Stars

Courtney, Cornwall

The Cornish coast is dotted with wild swimming spots. Take your pick with a stay at safari-style tent Courtney that overlooks the Hustyn Mine Park and sleeps six. There’s a spring fed lake near by and a hot tub on hand to warm you up afterwards.

Dive into Buscot Weir for a wild swim in Oxfordshire

Who can resists a rope swing? Find England at its finest in the Cotswolds

Buscot Weir, Oxfordshire

This the Cotswolds at its most idyllic. The old weir at Buscot has scooped out a deep and clear natural pool, lined with ancient weeping willow,” says Start (who has lots of useful wild swimming tips on his website). “Children climb the low boughs and use them as platforms to jump from and there are rope swings everywhere. The deep roots make perfect handrails to pull yourself out of the water again. The lawns that border the pool are dotted with inflatable boats and deckchairs. Upstream at Cheese Wharf, which was once a loading bay for twenty tonnes of cheese a day, there are more rope swings to discover.”

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