Desperate for a wild dip? Whether you need a good dose of Vitamin Sea and want a coastal walk, or want to seek out peaceful hidden woodland ponds, I've got you covered with some great hiking routes that lead to my favourite swim spots in Britain. Discover glassy lakes, cold rivers and secret coves in Somerset, Cumbria, Dartmoor, Cornwall and beyond. If you've never tried wild swimming before, you're in for a treat — a dip in natural water is the perfect way to cool down and find a sense of calm and space.
You'll see that a few of these are based around Bristol, which are my go-to wild swims for local adventures. Some of these hikes feature either nearby campsites or wild camping opportunities such as Crazy Well Pool on Dartmoor, so you can plan a multi-day adventure. I've also included some longer trails, such as Somerset's 18-mile (29 km) Three Peaks hike and Helvellyn's iconic Striding Edge, where you can cool off in the Red Tarn.
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. In the sea, check carefully for any hidden rocks, and in rivers, 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.
5. Wear a wetsuit in colder temperatures.
This has to be one of the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous stretches of coast path in Britain, part of the South West Coast Path.Walk from St Levens past Porthcurno to find Pedn Vounder, a cove with jewel-blue sea and white sands. Popular with nudists if you fancy a skinny dip! Note that the path down is rocky and steep and the final section is a bit of a climb.Check out more of the South West Coast Path in this area here: komoot.com/collection/887634/conquer-britains-longest-trail-south-west-coast-path-part-2
The Lake District'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 clamber down the rocks or jump in from the cliffs if you're brave! Stonethwaite campsite, nearby, is a simple but lovely place to camp with incredible mountain views.
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Hike in from Fernworthy Reservoir to find one of my favourite wild swimming and wild camping spots in Britain.Start in the beautiful woodlands of Blowing House, home to wild ponies and wild flowers in abundance, then follow the water up into the moors.Crazy Well Pool is a large natural pool with dark waters that are said to be bottomless. It's a sheltered place to swim and the water is nice and warm on hot days. If you camp or bivi here you'll get lovely views of nearby tors from your tent.
This is a short and laid-back walk through fields and apple orchards that makes for the perfect Somerset stroll for families or on a lazy Sunday.Keep your eyes peeled for Glastonbury Tor in the distance, and there are a trio of friendly goats to meet on the way! The walk ends with a swim at West Lydford, where you can jump in from the village bridge and swim around the lily pads in a long stretch of the river watched over by the local church.
A hike to Foggintor Quarry from Princetown makes the perfect wild swimming walk on Dartmoor. ollow a wide track onto the moors, passing the resident herds of ponies, until you come across the quarry half-hidden in the landscape.The deep water is cold but clear and amazing for a dip. After a swim you can continue on and explore the romantic ruins of mining buildings nearby, then climb up King's Tor for views across Dartmoor and back to the swim spot.
Okay, so it isn't the famed Three Peaks walk of Yorkshire, but Somerset's own Three Peaks circular is a great longer distance day hike through the countryside.This 18 mile (29 km) route starts in Pensford and sweeps through pretty Chew Magna, climbs up Somerset’s three peaks of Maes Knoll, Knowle Hill and Blackberry Hill along the way.Maes Knoll is impressive and Knowle Hill offers panoramic views of the Chew Valley. Finish up at Publow where you can cool off with a well-deserved river swim. The best place to swim is in the deep pool under the village bridge.
This gorgeous flat walk is one of my favourite laid-back rambles in Somerset. Follow the footpath along the banks of the River Frome as it winds through woods and meadows to reach Freshford.On the way you'll pass Italianate Iford Manor, which looks like you've gone on a walk to the Mediterranean on a hot day.When you get back to your starting point go for a river swim at the Farleigh Hungerford Swimming Club, where there's a diving platform and a rope swing as well as a wide meadow to relax and picnic in.
A dip in the briny at Treyarnon tidal pool and a ramble to Trevose Head makes the perfect crowd-free coastal adventure in Cornwall.Start at Treyarnon beach and follow the South West Coast Path, crossing the golden sands of Constantine Bay and then climbing up to the headland. This stretch is covered with wild flowers and really reminds me of Eastern Canada's coastline.You'll pass eerie Trevose Hole, a deep natural sea hole (be careful on the narrow, rocky path here), and reach Trevose Head Lighthouse, then you can walk out onto the edge of the headland and look back at the coastline you've just walked.Time your return to Treyarnon for low tide, then climb down the rocks in front of the YHA hostel to find the natural tidal pool that appears here at low tide. The clear waters are perfect for swimming and snorkelling, and you can also jump in off the rocks.
Dramatic Bodmin Moor is very different to Cornwall’s laid-back turquoise coast, and this walk to Goldiggins Quarry is the perfect way to explore it.Pass the Hurlers, a mysterious stone circle watched over by a disused mine, and follow the wide track to reach the quarry. It looks hidden until you come right upon it, where it reveals a wide, deep pool where you can swim, sunbathe on the rocks or if you’re brave, jump off a series of high cliffs.On the way back, detour to climb up Cheesewring, a granite tor with great views of the surrounding moors.
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 the Lake District.Then loop down again via Swirral Edge to reach the Red Tarn, which is a lovely place to stop for lunch and a cooling swim. I've even seen people stand-up paddleboarding here!I like to walk back via Brownend woods and Lanty's Tarn, which is a much quieter, gentler route.