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Wonderful wild swimming walks in the Lake District


Wonderful wild swimming walks in the Lake District

Hiking Collection by sianannalewis



18:05 h

58.2 mi

12,425 ft

Welcome to the Lake District National Park, England's largest and perhaps best-loved protected wild space. Home to soaring mountains, tucked-away little villages and the iconic wide ribbons of deep water (sixteen of them, in fact) that give it its name. The Lake District is a walker's - and a wild swimmer's - dream adventure destination.

If, like me, you love to combine a hill hike with a cooling wild swim, look no further - this Collection rounds up nine of my favourite wild swimming walks in the national park, including routes that seek out Cumbria's secret deep, clear river pools, known as 'pots', as well as rambles to the shores of better-known lakes such as Rydal and Derwentwater.

There's a wild swim walk to suit everyone here, and most of these routes can easily be lengthened or shortened to suit your ability. Cat Bells is a classic hike and easy fell to tackle for first-timers, with the shores of Derwentwater waiting at the bottom of the valley. Peaceful Loughrigg Tarn is great for families, with shallows to dip in and a wide meadow for a post-swim picnic.

Feeling adventurous? Head to Black Moss Pot for the chance to try some cliff jumping from the tall rock walls that hide this deep pool from view, or tackle Helvellyn's famous scramble before a dip in a mountain lake. And if you love a literary walk, try Buckstones Jum, believed to be a favourite spot of treasured poet William Wordsworth.

It's hard to pick a favourite swim walk here, but exploring Hard Knott Pass in search of Tongue Pot is perhaps the most jaw-droppingly beautiful hike on my list, and packs remote mountain passes, Roman forts and emerald-green pools fed by waterfalls into one achievable walk. Bliss.

Before you set off, here are my top wild swimming safety tips.

1. Always check the depth and speed of the water before you get in. Check carefully for any hidden rocks, and avoid areas with fast-flowing currents.
2. Search out an easy exit point before entering the water.
3. Avoid swimming alone and take a swimming buddy.
4. Wear aquatic sandals with a good grip when you’re swimming off rocks or wading into lakes.
5. Wear a wetsuit in colder temperatures: the Lakes' glacial waters can be very chilly in the winter months.

On The Map


Tours & Highlights

  • Loughrigg Fell and Rydal Water — Wild swim walks in the Lake District

    3.63 mi
    2.3 mph
    925 ft
    925 ft

    There's a lot to love about this short wild swim walk. It's a quick and easy one to fit into a trip to the Lakes, but clambering up to the top of Loughrigg Fell rewards the walker with jaw-dropping views across to Grasmere and of the surrounding fells.


    Then it's a quick hike down again to the shores of

    by sianannalewis

  • 02:32
    6.27 mi
    2.5 mph
    1,125 ft
    1,150 ft

    This remote wild swimming and walking route really has it all - but first you've got to get there. The vertiginously steep Hardknott Pass road is revered by cyclists and road trippers alike for its 14% average gradient and far-reaching mountain vistas, but is often cut off by snow in winter.


    If you can

    by sianannalewis

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  • 04:05
    7.68 mi
    1.9 mph
    2,750 ft
    2,750 ft

    Striding Edge has to be one of the most iconic, and most accessible scrambles in Britain, and it also makes for a pretty epic wild swim walk.


    Follow the narrow ridge (pick a clear, windless day and don't attempt it in winter unless you're experienced) up to the summit, where there are amazing views across

    by sianannalewis

  • 5.16 mi
    -- mph
    925 ft
    875 ft

    I can't think of a more peaceful place to while away a sunny day than the shores of Loughrigg Tarn. This wide pool is lined with trees, and there's a lovely open meadow behind it for warming up in the sun after a dip.


    This circular walk up into the hills rewards with sweeping hill views before dipping

    by sianannalewis

  • 8.78 mi
    -- mph
    750 ft
    725 ft

    Bet you didn’t know you could go cliff jumping in the Lake District. Cumbria's unique 'pots' — deep natural swimming holes — are amazing spots for a swim.


    Black Moss is one of the best-known, and the walk from Stonethwaite to find it is a gorgeous ramble through the fells.


    Once you reach the pot you can

    by sianannalewis

  • 03:08
    7.65 mi
    2.4 mph
    1,100 ft
    1,175 ft

    The autumn colours were changing before our eyes when we hiked along the flanks of the fells and through the red heather to reach Blea Tarn from the village of Elterwater.


    The water here is cold, deep and tinged an iron-y red, and reflects the surrounding mountains perfectly - like swimming in a mirror

    by sianannalewis

  • 05:12
    11.0 mi
    2.1 mph
    3,150 ft
    3,125 ft

    This is one of the stiffer hikes in my wild swimming Lake District collection, but it's well worth the stiff climb up to Nab Scar and Great Rigg on clear days for huge views across the Lake District. Form here you can amble back to Rydal on the Coffin Route and then follow a shorter loop into the valley

    by sianannalewis

  • 01:35
    3.98 mi
    2.5 mph
    675 ft
    650 ft

    This swim spot is further from the madding crowds you might find at some of the Lake District's more popular swim spots - Holme Fell is a little more remote and makes for a wonderful wild walk. Bimble about on the hills and you'll get your first glimpse of the deep, still waters of Holme Fell Lake, then

    by sianannalewis

  • 4.00 mi
    -- mph
    1,000 ft
    1,225 ft

    A 'proper little mountain', a 'family fell’, a 'mountain in miniature' - thus have writers and fans described Cat Bells, one of the Lake District's most popular, and easier, fells to hike up.


    The iconic peak – believed to be a distortion of ‘Cat Bields’, meaning ‘the home of the wild cat’ – sits enticingly

    by sianannalewis

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
  • Distance
    58.2 mi
  • Duration
    18:05 h
  • Elevation
    12,425 ft

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