From the tranquil reservoirs of the Midlands to the picturesque waterfalls in Yorkshire and Humber, this guide takes you on a journey to explore the best wild swimming and open water swimming spots in these regions. Embrace the refreshing embrace of nature’s pools, find peace in the gentle sway of reservoir waters and experience the thrill of waterfall plunges. As we dip into each location, we’ll highlight their unique charms, accessibility, and facilities, making your next wild swimming adventure a memorable one.
We have detailed guides to other areas of the UK:
Map of the Best Locations for Wild Swimming in the Midlands and Yorkshire
The Midlands of England are region where the industrial heart of England meets tranquil countryside. The Midlands provides an array of wild swimming opportunities. Aztec Adventure Upton Warren in Worcestershire, for instance, is a perfect spot, offering stunning open water swimming. Netherton Reservoir in Dudley is also a delightful location, favoured for its serene environment. And let’s not forget Race Hub @ Frisby Lake in Leicestershire, well-regarded for its clear, clean waters. Finally, the tranquil Combs Reservoir in Derbyshire offers both beauty and privacy. Each location combines natural charm with accessibility, promising memorable swimming experiences.
Aztec Adventure Upton Warren, Worcestershire. B61 7ER
Nestled in the heart of Worcestershire, Aztec Adventure Upton Warren is a delightful hub for outdoor water sports, including wild swimming. This facility is home to a freshwater lake that offers a safe and controlled environment for open water swimming. Surrounded by lush greenery, the lake provides a tranquil setting that adds to the charm of your swimming experience. The lake is stream-fed and the water is regularly tested for water quality.
The centre provides dedicated swimming sessions, making it suitable for both beginners and experienced swimmers. They also ensure safety by having a team of qualified lifeguards and rescue equipment readily available during these sessions. Facilities such as changing rooms, toilets, and a café serving snacks and drinks are also on-site, adding to the convenience.
The University of Worcester Lakeside Campus, Worcestershire, WR6 6NH
The University of Worcester Lakeside Campus offers a fantastic opportunity for wild swimming in a safe and controlled environment. This venue has a man-made lake set in a scenic 100-acre site. Not only does it offer a serene setting for swimming, but it also provides an excellent base for other water-based activities like rowing and canoeing.
They offer open water swimming sessions under the guidance of professional and supportive staff, ensuring swimmers of all levels can partake. The 1.6m lake has a 650m circuit for outdoor swimmers. Whether you’re a beginner dipping your toes into wild swimming, or a seasoned swimmer looking for a regular spot, the University of Worcester Lakeside Campus offers an inclusive experience.
Swimming is only permitted once the water temperature is above 11°C. When the water temperature is less than 18°C wetsuits must be worn. Facilities include changing rooms, parking, and a cafeteria are available for the convenience of the swimmers.
Netherton Reservoir, West Midlands, DY2 0HL
Netherton Reservoir, also known as Lodge Farm Reservoir, is a popular location for wild swimming and other water-based activities. Located in the West Midlands, the reservoir is an inland body of freshwater covering approximately 18 acres, making it a fantastic spot for open water swimming.
The reservoir is home to the Dudley Watersports Centre, which offers facilities for both beginners and experienced swimmers. They organise regular open water swimming sessions under the watchful eyes of trained lifeguards, ensuring safety alongside fun.
There is a clubhouse with changing rooms and hot showers. The serene surroundings of the reservoir, coupled with its ample size, make it a delightful place to swim.
Combs Reservoir, East Midlands, SK23 9UH
Combs Reservoir, situated in the heart of Derbyshire, is a wonderful location for wild swimming. This open water body, surrounded by rolling countryside and wildlife, offers an exceptional immersion into nature’s bounty. The reservoir spans around 23 hectares, providing ample space for swimming and other water-based activities.
Swimming has been permitted by the Canal & Riverside Trust exclusively delivered and organised by The Glossop Triathlon Club through a group called TOWS. You don’t have to be an all-year-round member of the Club, or a triathlete, sessions are open to all who wish to enjoy the open water in a safe environment. They run two session per week, with open water trained lifeguards, safety canoeists on the water, land-based spotters on the slipway and a clearly marked 350 metres course.
You must wear a brightly coloured swimming hat for safety reasons. If possible, they ask that you rinse all your swimming kit at home. Toilet facilities are available on the boatyard as well as changing rooms in the Clubhouse. You must prebook your swimming session through Glossop Triathlon Club. There are car parks a short walk from the lake.
Frisby Lakes, Leicestershire, LE14 3TL
Race Hub, located at Frisby Lakes in Leicestershire, is a well-organized facility that offers safe and enjoyable open water swimming opportunities. The venue is set amidst beautiful countryside, providing a serene backdrop to your wild swimming experience.
Regularly scheduled open water swimming sessions are held at Race Hub, offering a dedicated and controlled environment for swimmers of various abilities. The water is tested monthly to meet EU bathing regulation. They employ safety measures such as lifeguard supervision and provide clear marking of swimming routes, ranging from 400m to 750m, for both beginners and experienced swimmers. You can swim as a guest to try swimming at Race Hub before purchasing a membership or if you are visiting the area. Schedules are available online and sessions are prebooked using an app.
To ensure cleanliness and maintain water quality, swimmers are required to wear wetsuits and use a tow float for visibility and safety, making it a preferred location for those who want the wild swimming experience with added safety precautions. There are changing huts, a rinse shower, free parking and toilets. Besides swimming, the facility also includes a cafe that serves food and refreshments, and even has training and coaching facilities.
The Falcon at Castle Ashby, Northampton, NN7 1LF
The Falcon at Castle Ashby, located in Northamptonshire, offers a unique wild swimming experience. Situated in the beautiful estate of Castle Ashby, the Falcon’s premises include a picturesque lake which is open for wild swimming.
Surrounded by stunning landscapes and lush greenery, this site offers an excellent opportunity to dive into the natural beauty of the countryside while enjoying a refreshing swim. The lake itself is of considerable size, with a 500-metre swim course offering enough space for swimmers to fully enjoy the open water.
There is a carpark on Parkhill Road specifically for outdoor swimmers. The path to the lake is signposted from the carpark through the woods. There is an app that is used for booking a swim. Tow floats are compulsory, and there could be some available but they are reserved for newcomers and hotel guests so it’s best to bring your own. There are no toilets but there is a marquee for getting changed.
Beyond swimming, the Falcon at Castle Ashby is a wonderful place to spend a relaxing day. There’s a luxurious hotel on site, an excellent restaurant, and the surrounding Castle Ashby Estate provides beautiful walks and gardens to explore.
Hoveringham Lake, Nottingham, NG14 7J
Hoveringham Lake, located in Nottinghamshire, is a beautiful location for wild swimming. It’s a freshwater lake within the Hoveringham Lakes complex, a popular site known for its wide range of water sports activities.
The lake offers ample space for open water swimming, surrounded by scenic landscapes that make your swim even more enjoyable. Being part of a managed facility, the lake’s water quality is usually well maintained, which is an essential aspect for any wild swimming location. There is a 100m out and back swimming route and a 500m loop.
Booking is by an app. There are toilets in the nearby clubhouse but they are not to be used for getting changed. A staffed gazebo is available for you to leave your gear while you swim. Wetsuits are not mandatory but advisable. You must use a tow float and wear a brightly coloured swimming cap. Trained lifeguards are on duty during swimming sessions. There is a carpark and hot drinks are available if you bring your own mug.
Yorkshire and Humber
The Yorkshire and the Humber region is synonymous with breath-taking landscapes and picturesque water bodies, perfect for wild swimming. Consider starting at Hatfield Water Park in Doncaster, where the large lake is a joy for open water enthusiasts. Thrybergh Country Park in Rotherham is another delightful spot, ideal for both experienced and novice swimmers. In East Riding of Yorkshire, Welton Waters Adventure Centre presents a controlled yet exhilarating wild swimming experience. But the jewels of wild swimming in this region lie in its natural features. Stainforth Force, Janet’s Foss, and Loup Scar are all examples of nature’s own swimming pools, set in serene surroundings.
Allerthorpe Lakeland Park, Pocklington, York, YO42 4RL
Allerthorpe Lakeland Park, nestled in the stunning landscapes of East Yorkshire, provides a delightful spot for wild swimming. The park features a well-maintained, clean lake surrounded by beautiful natural scenery, which offers a tranquil backdrop for your open water swim. Staring from the slip way there is a 400m swimming course. The lake has a sandy, weed-free bottom and is relatively shallow so it gets warm on sunny days.
Regularly designated open water swimming sessions are available, which caters to both beginners and more experienced swimmers. Lifeguards are usually present during swimming sessions and there are clearly marked swimming routes to guide participants. Brightly coloured swimming caps are required for all swimmers. There is no online booking and payment is taken on arrival at the lake.
A vital aspect of Allerthorpe Lakeland Park is its focus on family-friendly activities. In addition to swimming, the park offers a range of water-based activities such as canoeing, paddleboarding, and sailing. Furthermore, there are on-site facilities including a café, picnic areas, a children’s playground, and camping facilities, making it an ideal location for a family day out.
Hatfield Water Park
Located in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, Hatfield Water Park offers a fantastic location for wild swimming. This large, freshwater lake is well-maintained and surrounded by beautiful greenery, providing an immersive experience of nature while you swim.
The lake has designated swimming areas, with lifeguards typically present during swimming sessions to ensure the safety of all participants. In addition, there are different swimming routes for swimmers of all levels, which adds to the appeal of this location for beginners and more experienced swimmers alike. Hatfield Water Park also offers other water sports such as canoeing, windsurfing, and paddleboarding.
Booking is online via the link on the website and you need to sign up to be a memeber. Brightly coloured swimming caps must be worn but while wetsuits are suggested they are optional. There are changing rooms and lockers available. The park also offers on-site facilities like a café, toilets, and ample parking space for your convenience.
Thrybergh Country Park
Thrybergh Country Park, located in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, is a beautiful destination for wild swimming. The park surrounds Thrybergh Reservoir, a sizable freshwater lake that offers a peaceful and serene setting for your open water swimming experience.
The park is known for its clean and clear waters, with designated swimming areas for safety. Swimmers of various skill levels can enjoy the lake, with different routes mapped out to cater to everyone from beginners to experienced swimmers. There is a short 200m course and long 800m course. Lifeguards are on hand during open swimming sessions, ensuring a safe environment for all.
Booking is through a link on the website but you need a free membership of member of SYS. Wetsuits are not required but recommended and there are some available for hire. Brightly coloured swimming caps are mandatory.
Thrybergh Country Park is home to a variety of other outdoor activities. Visitors can enjoy walking trails, bird watching, and fishing. The park’s facilities also include a café, toilets, and a large car park.
Welton Waters Adventure Centre, East Yorkshire, HU15 1PT
Welton Waters Adventure Centre, located 11 miles from the centre of Hull, is an excellent spot for wild swimming. This water-based activity centre is situated on a beautiful lake, offering a safe and engaging environment for open water swimming. There are two marked swimming courses, one 400m and one 700m.
The centre has designated swimming areas which are closely monitored, making it suitable for swimmers of all levels. They also provide safety briefings and have lifeguards on duty, offering an extra layer of reassurance for swimmers. Booking is via email.
Wetsuits are optional but if the temperature is below 15º you must check with a lifeguard before swimming without one. Solo swimming is usually not allowed and all swimmers must wear a brightly coloured swimming cap and use a tow float. Facilities include parking, toilets, and changing areas. There’s also a café on site for that post-swim refuel.
Bolton Abbey Stepping Stones, North Yorkshire, BD23 6EX
Bolton Abbey, located in the heart of Yorkshire Dales, is a spectacular spot offering an unforgettable wild swimming experience. Nestled by the River Wharfe, the Stepping Stones is a particular favourite among wild swimmers. This part of the river is framed by picturesque woodland and has shallow areas perfect for a refreshing dip.
The Stepping Stones themselves add a fun element to the experience, serving as a natural bridge across the river. It’s an iconic spot that’s as enjoyable for walkers as it is for swimmers. But do remember that this area can become quite busy during peak times, especially on warm, sunny days. Upstream of the Stepping Stones is the deepest section of the river that is best for swimming but look out for boats.
In terms of facilities, there’s ample parking available at Bolton Abbey. You’ll also find toilets and several options for food and drinks in the area, including cafes and picnic spots. Please note that there are no lifeguards, so safety and responsibility are up to individual swimmers.
Loup Scar, North Yorkshire, BD23 6BS
Loup Scar, located near Burnsall in Yorkshire, is a haven for wild swimmers. This part of the River Wharfe is known for its crystal clear waters and is surrounded by stunning limestone cliffs, giving it a secluded and magical ambiance. The swimming spot is complemented by the presence of a beautiful waterfall, which adds a touch of adventure to your swimming experience.
When it comes to reaching Loup Scar, the easiest way is from the nearby village of Burnsall. The village car park (postcode BD23 6BS) is the closest parking facility. From there, take a scenic walk of about a mile along the riverbank footpath. This should take you approximately 20-30 minutes, and the route is generally quite flat and easy to navigate.
After a delightful swim, you might be in need of a rest and some refreshment. The Red Lion Pub in Burnsall is a convenient spot for some food and drinks. You’ll find a good selection of meals and a welcoming atmosphere. Public toilets are also located in Burnsall, just a short walk from the pub and the car park.
Remember, wild swimming can be an exhilarating but risky activity. There are no lifeguards at Loup Scar, so be sure to assess the conditions, look out for any potential hazards, and never swim alone. Enjoy your swim at Loup Scar responsibly and respect the natural environment to ensure it remains a wonderful spot for future visitors.
North Yorkshire, BD24 9PZ
Catrigg Force, located near the village of Stainforth in the Yorkshire Dales, is a delightful spot for wild swimming. Tucked away in a serene woodland setting, the Force features a main fall of 20 feet and smaller pools that are surrounded by lush foliage and mossy stones. The waters here are cool and clear, perfect for a refreshing dip.
To get there, you can park at the Stainforth car park, near the village hall (postcode BD24 9PF). From there, it’s roughly a mile’s walk to the waterfall. Follow the signposted footpath up the hill from the car park towards Stainforth Force and then on towards Catrigg Force. It’s a fairly gentle walk, though it can get muddy after rain, so be sure to wear appropriate footwear.
Once you’ve had your fill of swimming and exploring, Stainforth is home to a charming tearoom, Knight Stainforth Hall, which serves up delightful homemade cakes and a variety of hot drinks. You’ll also find public toilets near the car park for your convenience.
Keep in mind that, like most wild swimming locations, Catrigg Force doesn’t have lifeguards. Always assess the conditions carefully before swimming and respect the local environment by not leaving any litter behind.
Stainforth Force, North Yorkshire, BD24 0DP
Stainforth Force, situated near the village of Stainforth in the Yorkshire Dales, offers a lovely wild swimming experience. It’s a natural beauty spot with cascading waterfalls and deep, clear pools surrounded by beautiful countryside, perfect for a refreshing swim.
You can park your car at the Stainforth car park near the village hall (postcode BD24 9PF). The path to Stainforth Force is well signposted and starts from the car park. Follow the path for about half a mile until you reach the river, where you’ll find the waterfall and swimming hole. The path is mostly flat and easy to walk, but remember it can get muddy after the rain.
Stainforth itself is a charming village with facilities for visitors. Near the car park, you’ll find the delightful Knight Stainforth Hall, a tearoom serving up tasty treats and warm beverages, perfect for after your swim. Conveniently, there are also public toilets located near the car park.
Remember to swim safely as Stainforth Force, like many wild swimming spots, doesn’t have lifeguard supervision. Always assess conditions before entering the water, especially if you are jumping in.
Janet’s Foss, North Yorkshire, BD23 4DL
Janet’s Foss, located near the village of Malham in the Yorkshire Dales, is a wonderful spot for wild swimming. Known for its enchanting waterfall and serene pool set in a woodland glade, it’s ideal for a refreshing dip on a summer’s day.
To reach Janet’s Foss, you can park your vehicle at the National Park Centre car park (postcode BD23 4DA) in Malham. From the car park, follow the signposted footpath towards Malham Cove and then take the path to the left, following Gordale Beck. The walk to the waterfall is a gentle and scenic one, approximately 1 mile long and takes about 25 minutes.
For refreshments, the nearby village of Malham has a couple of great options. The Old Barn Cafe offers a delicious range of snacks and drinks, and is conveniently located near the National Park Centre car park. Toilets are also available at the National Park Centre.
Remember, as Janet’s Foss is a natural site without lifeguard supervision, always assess the water conditions before swimming and respect the environment by leaving no trace.
From the serene Midlands to the vibrant landscapes of Yorkshire and the Humber, we’ve explored some of the best spots for wild and open water swimming these regions have to offer. Each location offers a unique blend of natural beauty, accessibility, and additional facilities, making them ideal for both novice and experienced swimmers alike. So grab your swimming gear, respect the natural surroundings, and dive into your next adventure.
Can you wild swim anywhere in the UK?
No, not all water bodies in the UK are open for swimming due to various reasons such as private ownership, government restrictions, and environmental concerns.
Is it illegal to swim in reservoirs in the UK?
Yes, it’s generally illegal to swim in reservoirs in the UK due to safety and water quality reasons.
Is it legal to swim in rivers in the UK?
Yes, although it depends on the specific location and permission may be required. Parts of some rivers may be privately owned. However many UK rivers are not suitable for swimming due to dangerous currents and water quality.
Can you swim in the River Trent?
No, swimming in the River Trent is not recommended due to strong currents and potential pollution.
Can you swim in Sandwell Valley?
No, swimming is not permitted in the Sandwell Valley lakes due to safety reasons. There are swimming sessions available at Swan Pool but they must be arranged through the Sailing Club and Triathlon Club
Can you swim in Birmingham canals?
No, swimming in Birmingham canals is not advised due to health and safety risks.
Where can I swim outdoors in Yorkshire?
There are several spots including Hatfield Water Park, Thrybergh Country Park, and Welton Waters Adventure Centre.
Can you swim in the Yorkshire Dales?
Yes, places like Loup Scar, Stainforth Force, and Janet’s Foss are popular for wild swimming.
Can you swim at Aysgarth Falls?
No, swimming is not recommended due to potential hazards like strong currents and submerged rocks.
Can you swim at Linton Falls?
No, swimming at Linton Falls is not recommended due to safety concerns.