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The Best Outdoor Swimming Spots in England


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The Best Outdoor Swimming Spots in England

Explore the great outdoors this summer with some of the most beautiful (and challenging) outdoor pools and wild swimming locations

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Looking for the best outdoor swimming lakes and pools in England, or Britain’s most challenging wild swimming spots? Look no further. We’ve rounded up the best wild swimming spots, open water activities and the loveliest English lidos in the country.

     

Best outdoor swimming, lidos & wild swims in England

Haweswater reservoir in the Lake District

Haweswater reservoir in the Lake District

Wild swimming at Thurlestone Rock, Devon

Thurlestone Rock in Devon is a great destination to aim for if you want a truly wild swimming experience. The rock formation is situated in Thurlestone Bay on the south Devon coast, sitting around 500 metres off the shore at high tide, and is famous for its unusual natural arch, created over centuries by the crashing waves.

Don a wetsuit (the water can be cold) and goggles and challenge yourself; experienced wild swimmers pride themselves on being able to swim through the arch, but it’s just as fun to simply float over the reef and – if the water’s clear – take in the aquatic garden of seaweed and fish below you. visitdevon.co.uk 

Test the Waters at Thames Lido

Wild Swimming In Grassington, North Yorkshire

Grassington is an idyllic little Dales market town with a cobbled square, but if you can escape from its cosy pubs, it’s also a great base for a spot of wild swimming. The surrounding area is scattered with plunge pools, cascading waterfalls and the pristine waters of the River Wharfe. Choose to ride a rubber ring down the chutes, cool off with a paddle or brave the jump into the plunge pool at Loup Scar. Stick to the summer months unless you’re impervious to the chilliest of temperatures. wildswimming.co.uk

Swim Serpentine, London (September)

Swim Serpentine is a one-day open water swimming festival staged in the heart of London. Organised by London Marathon Events, the festival is held in and around the beautiful Serpentine in Hyde Park, the venue for the open water swimming competition at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Sharpen the elbows; it can get busy. swimserpentine.co.uk

Lido, Bristol

Lido Bristol

The Lido, Bristol

Tucked away inside a secluded court yard in the heart of Bristol’s most prestigious area, Clifton Lido provides a luxurious leisure space that is another modern destination for both locals and visitors. The large outdoor pool and hot tub are complimented by an award-winning restaurant that cooks delicious yet affordable meals that are prepared using the finest ingredients, many of which are sourced locally. Read Freddy Bird, executive chef of The Lido Bristol’s guide to where to eat in Bristol, herelidobristol.com

Open water swimming with Swim Trek, Lake District

How about a short escape swimming holiday in the Lake District? With freshwater swims in some of the region’s most iconic lakes, this weekend getaway is the perfect way to spend some time in the great outdoors and discover this beautiful part of the British countryside from a unique perspective. swimtrek.com

Mermaid Swimming, Cornwall

Do you want to be where the people are? No? Then this one’s for you, sea beauties. Diving company Freedive UK are behind England’s first-ever mermaid swimming course. A popular pastime in many tropical resorts, the course teaches students the art of gliding underwater with a mermaid tail attached. Students can choose between a one-day or three-day course, costing £100 and £400 respectively. freediveuk.com 

Great British & Irish Hotels Guide 2017

Take the Scilly sea swim challenge, Isles of Scilly | September

Watch the spectacle (or join the madness) as 150 swimmers swim and walk between Scilly’s main islands in just one day. Starting at sunrise from Bar on St Mary’s north side the swimmers head first to St Martin’s arriving at Higher Town Quay. They then walk the length of the island to Lower Town Quay. Here they set off for Tresco, to Old Grimsby Quay passing Tean and St Helen’s. After walking across the backbone of Tresco to New Grimsby, they head off once again for the shortest of the swims to Bryher and then on to Samson.  From Samson, comes the penultimate swim and arguably one of the toughest – through the deep channel to St Agnes. And then the longest swim of all to wrap up the challenge – from St Agnes to Porthcressa Beach back on St. Mary’s. Sounds easy, no? scillyswimchallenge.co.uk

Salford Quays, Manchester

Salford Quays Sunrise

Salford Quays

Situated in the heart of Media City, Salford Quays proudly boasts the best water quality of any open water in the UK. Since 1987, APEM have managed and monitored the water quality at the Quays ensuring it is entirely safe, giving you complete peace of mind during your swim. Both Uswim and Helly Hansen offer classes at Salford Quays – whilst Uswim attracts a range of ages and abilities, Helly Hansen draws in a more competent bunch! thequays.org.uk

Saltdean Lido, Brighton

The UK’s only Grade II-listed lido in Saltdean, near Brighton, reopened last year after a five-year restoration programme. The lido is one of the finest remaining examples of modernist lidos in the UK. Phase one saw the opening of the main 40-metre-long swimming pool and the children’s swimming pool re-opening – with heated water, for the first time since it was closed in 1940. Phase two restored the main building, with a café/restaurant/events space, by 2020, pending funding. saltdeanlido.co.uk 

The Jubilee Pool, Penzance, Cornwall

The Jubilee Pool is the country’s largest sea water lido and has been a significant feature of Penzance’s seafront for over 80 years. With stunning views of both St Michaels Mount and the quaint fishing town of Newlyn, this lido is a fantastic place to splash around on a summer’s day. The pool opened in 1935 and has since become one of Cornwall’s greatest landmarks. jubileepool.co.uk

Bude Sea Pool, Cornwall

Following its closure in 1990, a local campaign succeeded in protecting the lido from demolition, resulting in the lido opening its doors once again in 2008. Bude Sea Pool is nestled in the rocks of a laid-back seaside town, making it the perfect place to relax in between exploring the beautiful beaches views and wild coastline. Built in 1930, the part natural, part man-made pool is topped up by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean each day, making it one of the few tidal swimming pools currently open to the general public. budeseapool.org

Hampstead Ponds, London

The Hampstead Ponds were originally dug as reservoirs in the 17th century. Over the past 400 years they have been converted into three separate bathing ponds consisting of a Ladies, Mens and Mixed Pond. The Ponds are as iconic as the Heath itself, offering a chance to step out of the chaos of modern city living and immerse yourself in a pool of calm. After taking a dip in the Ponds make your way through the Heath and take in one of London’s finest parks. Truly the best of both! cityoflondon.gov.uk

Hampstead Ponds

Hampstead Ponds

London Royal Docks, London

Long day in the City? London Royal Docks is the ideal place for those craving a post-work swim. There are numerous supervised swimming sessions which run throughout the week in both the daytime and evening. So whether you’re looking to get a serious cardio workout or simply relax after work, the Docks are perfect for you. Follow the course of the water as it meanders through Canary Wharf and around the O2. Although before taking a dip, ensure you purchase an electronic wristband from NOWCA which allows you to track your progress and keep you safe in the water. londonroyaldocksows.co.uk

Ham Lake, London

Everyone to Richmond! The glorious Ham Lake is perfect for those trying open swimming for the first time. You can swim most Tuesdays, Wednesdays and weekends throughout the summer. So make the most of the heatwave and take a trip to Richmond – you’re bound to swoon over the beautiful Lake. RG Active offer swimming sessions for all abilities, including beginners, so this really is the perfect spot for the whole family. rgactive.com

Queen’s Dock, Liverpool

The charity Local Solutions is committed to widening participation in watersports, they run open water sessions every Wednesday for just £5. What’s more, your fee is reinvested back into the local community to help disadvantaged individuals who do not have access to sports facilities. The sessions are open to all abilities and are designed to allow everyone to experience open water swimming at their own pace. liverpoolwatersports.org.uk

Explore the country more at Visit England.

NEXT: The Best Outdoor Pools & Lidos in London

     

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