From haunted lakes and fairy pools to the Jurassic coast – here are the best swimming locations in the UK.
With Spring officially upon us and warmer weather on the horizon, now is the perfect time to grab your swimming costume and dive into the growing trend of wild swimming. Currently going through a surge in popularity, wild swimming is essentially swimming outdoors in natural spaces, such as rivers, lakes or the sea. Like swimming in general it can be a great way to stay fit and has the added benefit of helping you reconnect with nature. The UK is fortunately blessed with a number of beautiful beaches, rivers and lakes that are perfect for a quick dip and as part of their campaign looking at how people can reconnect with nature, outdoor clothing brand Regatta have pulled together a list of some of the best country’s wild swimming locations.
However open water can be dangerous and there are a number of factors you should consider before taking a dip. For example, always check the current to ensure it’s not too strong and have an escape route in mind should you need to quickly leave the water. And while the warmer days are fast approaching open water like rivers and lakes is often still very cold so make sure you’re properly prepared, whether that’s with a wetsuit or by slowly acclimating yourself beforehand. Laura Sanderson, founder of Wild Soul Swim, says: “Cold water swimming is well known for its physical and mental health benefits. The effects on joints and muscles is well known, the cold water can help with inflammation and build up your immune system. Cold water is also known to reduce stress and release endorphins. The physical activity of swimming is also excellent for your physical health.”
Llyn y Fan Fach, Brecon Beacons
Perhaps the strangest location on this list, Llyn y Fan Fach is supposedly one of the most haunted bodies of water in Wales! According to the legend at 2pm on the first Sunday in August, the ‘Lady of the Lake’– rumoured to be a woman killed by her violent husband–emerges from the water. However 364 days out of the year this lake is the perfect spot forgetting your open-water swimming fix.
Hampstead Heath, London
While old reservoirs might not sound like the most inspiring places to swim, it’s good to know that even Londoners can get their wild swimming fix without having to travel too far afield! Three of the ponds on Hampstead Heath are open to the public and are fed by the River Fleet. There are even separate pools for men and women as well as a mixed pool.
The Grantchester Meadows, Cambridgeshire
Allegedly a favourite haunt of Lord Byron, the 1.2-mile stretch of meadows in Cambridge has a multitude of swimming opportunities. The river’s shallows and pools are fringed with early spring blooms providing the perfect backdrop for a quintessentially British dip.
Levenshulme’s ‘Secret Lake’
The back of an industrial estate may not sound like the most appealing place for a quick swim, however the secret lake in Levenshulme is a stunning location with an incredible story. Not technically a lake, the body of water was dredged by locals and took around 8 years to get swim ready.
Bude Sea Pool, Cornwall
Perfect for those looking for a gentle introduction to wild swimming, this part-natural, part-manmade pool built in the 1930s is fed by the Atlantic ocean and is open all year round. Even better entry is completely free!
Not one for the weaker swimmers, Wastwater is England’s deepest lake at 964 feet. This beautiful spot also benefits from an impressive backdrop with Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, overlooking the glistening water.
Mermaid’s Pool, Staffordshire
According to local legend this picturesque swimming spot is actually home to a murderous mermaid. It’s official name is Blakemere pond and reportedly local wildlife refuse to drink from it’s waters and birds won’t fly over it – one for the braver swimmers.
Dancing Ledge, Dorset
If you’re looking for a truly unique wild swimming experience why not follow in the footsteps of dinosaurs and check out the Dancing Ledge on the UK’s ‘Jurassic Coast’. Fortunately though you’re only likely to run into the occasional crab as opposed to say a velociraptor.
Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye
A succession of pools and waterfalls, Skye’s idyllic Fairy Pools are a must see for anyone when visiting the island and the perfect spot for those who don’t mind the cold. For any less hardy swimmers, a wet suit is probably advised.
Lady Falls, Brecon Beacons
Whether you call it Lady Falls or Sgwd Gwladys Waterfall, this beautiful spot in Wales’s Brecon Beacons is definitely worth the trip. A graceful column of water falls 30ft into a deep, large plunge pool set in an amphitheatre in the woods, there’s also a small pebble beach for relaxing and taking in the surrounding nature.
Regatta is an outdoor clothing company offering a range of walking gear, outerwear, footwear and camping gear at an affordable price. For more information, visit www.regatta.com