Welcome to our guide to the best wild and open water swimming locations in South West England and Wales. In this article, we’ll share our top picks for locations that offer beautiful and safe environments for an exhilarating swim. Each spot has its unique charm, from the serene lakes of Wales to the refreshing rivers of South East England. Whether you’re an experienced swimmer or a beginner, this guide is designed to help you plan your next swimming adventure with ease.
We have detailed guides to other areas of the UK:
Map of the Best Locations for Wild Swimming in Wales and South West England
South West England
South West England is a treasure trove of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and stunning wild swimming locations. Dip into the clear waters of Sharrah Pool, nestled within Dartmoor National Park’s leafy surroundings. For a more coastal experience, Bude Sea Pool offers a safe haven for swimmers. Fancy a man-made lido? Look no further than the historic Clevedon Marine Lake. With its abundance of aquatic spots set amid diverse landscapes, South West England truly caters to all wild swimming enthusiasts.
Cromhall Quarrry, Gloucestershire, GL12 8AA
Cromhall Quarry is a former limestone quarry located in South Gloucestershire. Over time, the quarry has filled with water and become a popular spot for outdoor water-based activities, including wild swimming.
Cromhall Quarry offers open water swimming sessions typically from April through September, with sessions accommodating a range of skill levels. It’s always a good idea to check their current schedule before planning a swim. The site provides changing facilities and there’s ample parking space.
The quarry waters are deep and can be colder than expected, so swimmers are advised to acclimatise slowly. Swimmers are also required to wear brightly coloured swim caps for visibility, and there are safety personnel on duty during open water swimming sessions. For those less accustomed to colder waters, wetsuits are recommended but are not mandatory.
Clevedon Marine Lake, North Somerset, BS21 7TU
Situated on the seafront at Clevedon in North Somerset, Clevedon Marine Lake is an iconic spot for open water swimming. The lake was originally built in 1929 and later refurbished in 2015, providing a large, safe, and semi-natural environment for swimming. The setting at Clevedon Marine Lake is scenic, with views out to the estuary and across to Wales.
The lake is replenished by the sea during high tides, providing swimmers with a mix of fresh and sea water to swim in. It’s open to the public all year round, with no specific opening or closing times, making it very accessible for those spontaneous swim plans.
Safety at Clevedon Marine Lake is primarily self-supervised, so it’s crucial for swimmers to be aware of their abilities and the conditions. Swimmers are encouraged to wear brightly colored swim caps for visibility and consider wearing a wetsuit, especially in colder months.
On-site facilities include a small café, public toilets, and limited changing facilities. There’s also a fair amount of parking available nearby.
Vobster Quay, Somerset, BA3 5SD
Vobster Quay, situated in Radstock, Somerset, is an inland diving and open water swimming centre built around a flooded quarry. Known for its clear waters and serene surroundings, it offers an appealing spot for wild swimming enthusiasts.
The site is usually open throughout the year, providing dedicated open water swimming sessions for all ability levels. Swimmers can enjoy a marked swimming circuit, ensuring a safe and organized experience. Please note that, due to its popularity, it’s recommended to book your swim session in advance online.
Swimmers are required to wear brightly coloured swim caps for visibility, and safety cover is provided during all open water swim sessions. Due to the water temperatures, which can be quite chilly, wetsuits are generally recommended but are not compulsory.
The site boasts excellent facilities including heated changing rooms, showers, equipment hire, and a shop. There’s also a café serving hot drinks and snacks – perfect for refuelling post-swim.
Lake 32 Outdoor Centre, Cirencester, Gloucestershire, GL7 6DF
Located in the Cotswold Water Park near Cirencester, the Lake 32 Outdoor Centre offers a wonderful setting for open water swimming. The site comprises a series of lakes, providing a fantastic natural aquatic environment for wild swimming enthusiasts.
Typically, Lake 32 offers regular open water swimming sessions throughout the warmer months. The lake features a marked swim route which provides structure and safety for swimmers. It’s always recommended to check their current schedule before planning your swim. Memberships are available or swimmers can book and pay for individual sessions. Swimmers of all abilities are welcome, making it a fantastic place to experience open water swimming.
Tow floats are mandatory for all swimmers. Swimmers are required to wear brightly coloured swim caps for visibility. Wetsuits are recommended due to the often cooler water temperatures, but they are not compulsory.
The Centre provides excellent facilities, including changing rooms and showers. There’s also a café on site, offering a variety of refreshments. Ample car parking is available, ensuring an easy start to your wild swimming adventure.
Bude Sea Pool, Cornwall, EX23 8HJ
Located on the coast of North Cornwall, Bude Sea Pool offers a unique open water swimming experience. This semi-natural tidal swimming pool was created in the 1930s under the curve of the cliffs in a conservation area known as Summerleaze Beach.
Bude Sea Pool provides an open and safe environment for swimming as it is replenished by the sea at high tide, yet protects swimmers from the hazards of the Atlantic Ocean. It is approximately 91 meters long and 45 meters wide, offering plenty of space for both leisurely swimming and more strenuous aquatic workouts.
This open water spot is free and available to the public all year round, although it’s wise to keep an eye on the tides and weather conditions before diving in. Swimmers are recommended to wear brightly coloured swim caps for visibility and to consider wearing a wetsuit, especially during the cooler months.
There are several facilities nearby, including public toilets, cafes, and parking. Also, the local community, led by the Friends of Bude Sea Pool, maintains the pool and ensures its availability for future generations to enjoy.
With its combination of the natural environment and sea waters, Bude Sea Pool offers an appealing and safe setting for wild swimming.
Sharrah Pool, Dartmoor, Devon, TQ13 7NT.
Nestled in Dartmoor National Park in Devon, Sharrah Pool is a hidden gem for wild swimming enthusiasts. This naturally formed pool, found along the River Dart, is surrounded by lush woodlands and offers a serene, secluded spot for a dip.
The pool is accessible throughout the year, although its remote location means that it requires a walk through the beautiful woodland to reach it. The walk is part of the charm, adding an element of adventure to the swimming experience.
The walk to Sharrah Pool begins at the New Bridge car park, situated along the B3212 near Dartmeet, in the heart of Dartmoor National Park. From the New Bridge car park, you’ll begin your walk heading downstream, following the path that runs parallel to the River Dart. You can take either the higher path for views down into the river or the lower path, which meanders closer to the water’s edge. After approximately 1.5 miles (or around 30 minutes to an hour of walking, depending on your pace), you’ll arrive at Sharrah Pool. When you’re ready to head back, you can simply retrace your steps back to the car park.
As a natural and remote swimming spot, there are no lifeguards or formal safety provisions at Sharrah Pool. Swimmers should be aware of their abilities and cautious of changing conditions. Wearing a brightly colored swim cap is recommended for visibility, and a wetsuit could be useful, particularly during cooler months.
Please note, there are no facilities like restrooms, changing rooms, or cafes nearby, so it’s wise to come prepared. Ensure you carry out any litter to keep this beautiful spot pristine.
Swimming in Sharrah Pool offers a true wild swimming experience, with crystal clear waters surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of Dartmoor. It’s essential to respect the natural environment, follow safety guidelines, and swim within your capabilities.
Chagford Lido, Dartmoor, Devon, TQ13 8DA
Located on the eastern edge of Dartmoor in Devon, Chagford Swimming Pool is a unique place for outdoor swimming. Built in the 1930s, this outdoor, river-fed public pool is one of the largest of its kind in the South West of England.
The pool is generally open from May through September, with regular adult-only and family sessions. Swimming in its natural, slightly cool water is a refreshing experience – it’s filtered and UV-treated for safety but not heated.
Lifeguards are usually on duty during open sessions, and brightly coloured swim caps are recommended for visibility. As the water can be a bit chilly, some swimmers opt to wear wetsuits, especially early and late in the season.
On-site facilities include changing rooms, showers, and a small kiosk selling refreshments. There is also a lovely adjacent play area and picnic site, perfect for a family day out.
Wales offers a wealth of idyllic wild swimming and open water swimming spots. Experience the crisp waters of Llyn Padarn, nestled in the scenic beauty of Snowdonia National Park. For a unique coastal adventure, head to the Blue Lagoon in Abereiddy. If you prefer river swimming, Sgwd Gwladys, also known as Lady Falls, offers a perfect spot in a forest setting. Looking for a tranquil lake? Llyn Tegid, or Bala Lake, won’t disappoint. With such varied locations, you are sure to find the perfect spot for outdoor swimming.
Llyn Padarn, Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd, LL55 4TY
Llyn Padarn, located in Llanberis, in the heart of Snowdonia, North Wales, is a glacially formed lake and one of the largest natural lakes in Wales. Known for its stunning natural beauty, it offers a picturesque setting for open water swimming.
During the warmer months, swimmers of all abilities are welcome to enjoy the fresh, clean water of the lake. It’s always recommended to check any local regulations and restrictions before planning your visit.
Safety is paramount when swimming in open water, and at Llyn Padarn, swimmers are advised to follow standard safety guidelines. This includes wearing brightly coloured swim caps for visibility, using a safety buoy, and never swimming alone. Wetsuits are generally recommended due to the often cool water temperatures, particularly outside of the summer months.
Llyn Padarn offers more than just swimming. There are excellent walking trails around the lake and it’s also popular for canoeing, sailing, and fishing. Facilities at the lake include a car park, toilets, and a nearby café in Llanberis village for refreshments post-swim.
Llandegfedd Reservoir, Monmouthshire, NP4 0SY
Located near Pontypool in South Wales, Llandegfedd Reservoir is a large water supply reservoir and a popular spot for watersports, including open water swimming. The reservoir spans over 434 acres, providing ample space for swimming and other water activities.
During the warmer months, the reservoir typically offers regular open water swimming sessions. It’s always wise to check their current schedule and any local regulations before planning your visit.
To maintain visibility, swimmers are required to wear brightly coloured swim caps. Moreover, due to the water temperatures, which can be cool especially early and late in the season, wetsuits are usually recommended.
In addition to open water swimming, Llandegfedd Reservoir offers a wide range of other watersports like sailing, windsurfing, and fishing. It’s a fantastic place for nature lovers too, with a variety of birds to spot. There’s also a visitor centre with a café where you can grab a bite to eat after your swim.
Sgwd Gwladys, or Lady Falls, Brecon Beacons, SA11 5NR
Located in the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales, Sgwd Gwladys, or Lady Falls, is part of the Waterfall Country walking trails. These falls are renowned for their picturesque beauty, cascading into a serene and clear plunge pool below, surrounded by a lush woodland setting. There isn’t a designated open water swimming spot at Lady Falls, but the plunge pool beneath the waterfall is a popular spot among adventurous swimmers.
Starting from the Waterfalls Centre car park in Pontneddfechan, follow the signposted trail for Waterfalls Walk. This will lead you along a well-maintained path that follows the river. After about 1.2 miles of walking, you’ll reach a junction. From here, take the right-hand path following the signs for Sgwd Gwladys. Continue along the path until you reach the falls.
After you’ve enjoyed your time at the falls, you can return to the car park by retracing your steps along the same path. The entire round trip is about 2.5 miles and could take around 1-2 hours depending on your pace and how long you spend at the falls.
The falls are in a remote location so there are no safety provisions or changing room or toilets. It is essential to make sure you are prepared and bring everything with you that you might need. Never swim alone, make sure you have a friend with you and people know where you are. Make sure you leave no trace behind to preserve the beauty of the falls.
Llyn Gwynant, Gwynedd, LL55 4NW
Llyn Gwynant is a beautiful natural lake located in Snowdonia National Park, North Wales. Surrounded by lush green hills and a variety of wildlife, it offers a truly immersive outdoor experience. The lake is a popular spot for open water swimmers, thanks to its clear, cool waters and stunning surroundings.
If you’re driving, the lake can be reached from the A498 road, which runs between Capel Curig and Beddgelert. You can park either in the main car park at Llyn Gwynant Campsite or in the small National Park car park a little further down the road.
There are toilet facilities available at the Llyn Gwynant Campsite. Café Gwynant is located just a short distance from the lake and the campsite. It offers a range of refreshments and is popular with walkers, campers, and swimmers. Please do check the café’s opening times as they may vary.
Blue Lagoon, Abereiddy, Pembrokeshire, SA62 6DT
The Blue Lagoon at Abereiddy is a former slate quarry that was flooded when it was abandoned and subsequently became a lagoon. Situated on the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales, it’s known for its striking blue-green water, a result of the mineral content and the fact that it’s deeper than typical lagoons.
Open water swimming at the Blue Lagoon offers a unique experience. Its clear, vibrant waters make it a popular spot for swimmers. The high surrounding cliffs provide a naturally sheltered environment, although swimmers should still be aware of potential underwater hazards such as leftover quarry machinery.
There are no lifeguards on duty at the Blue Lagoon, so swimmers should be competent and confident in their abilities, and ideally should not swim alone. Always let someone know when you plan to swim and when you expect to be back. The lagoon’s waters are deep and can be cold, so it’s recommended to wear a wetsuit, especially outside of the summer months.
As always, it’s important to respect the natural environment and other users of the lagoon. Leave no trace, and don’t disturb any wildlife you might encounter.
Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake), Gwynedd, LL23 7SP
Llyn Tegid is the largest natural lake in Wales, nestled in the beautiful Snowdonia National Park. The lake stretches approximately four miles long and one mile wide, offering plenty of room for wild swimming adventures. It’s surrounded by rolling hills and woodland, creating a tranquil setting that’s ideal for relaxation and reflection.
Situated in the town of Bala in Gwynedd, North Wales, Llyn Tegid is accessible by the A494 road. Parking is available at several locations. There is the Plassey Street car park (postcode LL23 7SW) that is centrally located in Bala and is a short walk from the lake. The Penlan car park (postcode LL23 7SP) is another good option located near the lake. There is also a car park located directly by the lake near the Bala Adventure and Watersports Centre.
Public toilets are available at the car parks mentioned above. There are several cafes in the town of Bala itself, a short walk from the lake. The Bala Adventure and Watersports Centre also has a cafe that serves light refreshments.
The water in Llyn Tegid can be chilly, especially outside of the summer months, so a wetsuit may be beneficial if you plan to stay in for an extended period. The lake is known for its clean, clear waters and stunning views, making it an excellent spot for open water swimming.
However, as with all wild swimming, there are some precautions to take. Ensure you’re aware of any currents, potential cold water shock, and sudden changes in depth. It’s always safer to swim with a buddy and notify someone on shore of your plans.
Park in the Past, Wrexham, LL12 9HB
Park in the Past is a unique community heritage project situated in the Flintshire countryside. A significant feature of the park is its 35 acre freshwater lake, a perfect spot for wild swimming. The lake provides a safe, managed environment for swimming, surrounded by lush greenery. Its water is routinely tested for quality to ensure a safe swimming environment, making it a good choice for both beginners and seasoned wild swimmers.
You must have a tow float. A wetsuit may be beneficial, particularly outside of the summer months. There are no life guards or rescue boats provided. The water is up to 30 metres deep in places and may be very cold depending on the prevailing condition and time of year. it can be a Short entry into deep water. There may be submerged objects in the water. No solo swimming is allowed.
Toilets are provided lakeside. There are also basic changing facility provided lake side. Tow floats are sometimes available to hire/buy. Swimming is usually between 10 am and 6pm in summer and you will need to book online.
In summary, both South West England and Wales offer a rich tapestry of wild and open water swimming locations, each with its unique charm. From tranquil lakes and vibrant rivers to captivating coastal lagoons, there’s a spot for every swimmer. So, whether you’re a seasoned wild swimmer or just starting your journey, you’re sure to find a location that suits your style and ability. Happy swimming!
We have detailed guides to other areas of the UK:
Wild Swimming in Lake District and the North of England
Wild Swimming in Scotland and Ireland
Wild Swimming in Sea
Can you wild swim in Wales?
Absolutely! Wales offers a plethora of locations for wild swimming, from tranquil lakes nestled amidst mountains to charming rivers and pristine coastlines.
Is wild swimming legal in Wales?
Yes, it’s generally legal. However, it’s best to respect private lands, look for signs indicating whether swimming is permitted, and follow the “leave no trace” principles.
Is it safe to swim in Welsh rivers?
It’s typically safe but depends on the location. Always check current conditions, watch for hidden dangers like strong currents and submerged objects, and never swim alone.
What waterfalls can you swim in Wales?
Sgwd yr Eira is one popular waterfall in the Brecon Beacons where you can swim. It’s always a good idea to check the depth and water flow before jumping in.
How clean is Welsh water?
Wales boasts some of the cleanest water bodies in the UK. However, water quality can vary, so it’s advised to verify the latest water quality reports.
Is it legal to swim in rivers in the UK?
Yes, it’s legal, although some restrictions may apply in certain areas due to environmental protection, private ownership or safety issues. Always check local regulations.
Can you swim in Chew Valley?
Swimming is not generally allowed in Chew Valley Lake for safety and conservation reasons. It’s used for birdwatching, sailing, and fishing instead.