13 June 2018

The draw of the water - Wild Swimming for beginners

Explore Your World

A beginners guide to your Wild Swimming Adventures

What is Wild Swimming?

If the only water you’re used swimming in is the local swimming pool [or your bath!], then the term wild swimming can sound a bit daunting, but don’t let that put you off!

As wildswimming.co.uk describes it as

"Exploring the world's outdoor swimming places. On a hot summer day, what could be more refreshing than slipping into the cool, clear waters of a secret lake? And what could be more exciting than plunging into a hidden waterfall?"

I don’t know about you, but it sounds pretty good to us!

The UK’s rivers, lakes and waterfalls, coves, caves and beaches, are cleaner, safer and more accessible than at any time in living memory. Not only that but there are some pretty awesome health benefits to a wild swim. So, here we go, let’s take the plunge!

How to get started?

Before jumping in to any lake, river or seaside we’d advise everyone to make sure they have taken all the necessary advice on safety and the legalities to wild swimming. As with all outdoor activities be mindful of the impact your wild swim can have on the local environment. We advocate a ‘leave only footprints, take only memories’ approach. It’s all summed up brilliantly in the Outdoor Swimmers Code.

It’s also essential to stay safe at all times during a wild swim. It's no suprise but UK waters can be a bit on the cold side, even in the height of summer, so always make sure you swim with a friend and acclimatise to cold water gradually. Limit your time in cold water if you’re unused to it and always take warm clothes to put on afterwards (even in summer – it’s amazing how fast you get cold). And believe us, you will feel colder after you get out.

Wetsuits, are a good option as they allow you to acclimatise much quicker and keep you warmer for longer. You can usually pick them up online, in local supermarkets or specialist shops and they aren't all that expensive.

There are some great sources for advice on all of the above at wildswimming.co.uk, outdoorswimmingsociety.com and wildswim.com

Best Wild Swimming Spots?

So now you have all the equipment and knowledge to keep safe and enjoy yourself, here our top picks for the best wild swimming spots in the north.

1. Derwent Water – Lake District

Wild Swimming In Derwent Water
There are numerous places to swim straight from the shores of Derwent water and during the summer there are always swim clubs and triathlon clubs heading out for their training. One of the best places to start is at Barrow Bay in the Borrowdale Valley - just look at that view!

2. Blackmoss Pot, Borrowdale - Lake District

Wild Swimming at Blackmoss Post in Cumbria

A popular swimming spot for the more adventurous. Blackmoss Pot is a deep pot (pool) with a 6-metre cliff for jumping in from. There are some fantastic rock formations and plenty of little pools to take in on the walk up. Beware the current under the waterfall can be dangerous so take care. 

3. Wastwater, Lake District

Wild Swimming in Wastwater in the Lake District
Wastwater is one of the most remote lakes in Cumbria, in the striking Wasdale valley. The Quartz lake bed provides incredibly clear water in this vast 5km long lake. There’s plenty of free parking along the lake shore and a selection of shelved beaches to enter the water from. After your swim there’s also a great pub at the end of the valley and a National Trust campsite to stay the night!

 4. Cotter Force, Yorkshire Dales National Park

Cotter Force in the Yorkshire Dales National Park
Cotter Force is one of the better known waterfalls in the Yorkshire Dales and is found on Cotterdale Beck not far upstream from where it flows into the River Ure in upper Wensleydale. It can be easily visited via an easy quarter of a mile there and back walk from Holme Heads Bridge where a large layby handily provides plenty of space to park a car. Thanks to the well made track Cotter Force is also one of the more accessible waterfalls in the Dales as it is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.

5. Loup Scar, Burnsall, Yorkshire Dales National Park

Wild Swimming at Loup Scar in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
This fantastic stretch of grassy riverside is one of the best places in the Dales for wild swimming. There are grassy riverside meadow with beaches for children and, if you are brave enough, the famous limestone cliff of Loup Scar to jump from into a deep plunge pool. Further upstream are quieter stretches if its busy on a sunny day.

Follow the riverside path upstream from the Red Lion pub in Burnsall Village (BD23 6BU), about ½ mile (10 minutes) past the church to reach the meadows and Loup Scar gorge beyond.

6. Windermere, Lake District – Cumbria

Wild Swimming in Windermere, Cumbria

There is a selection of beautiful spots in Lake Windermere to choose from but for a start head to the Jetty at Rayrigg Bay. It’s a sheltered bay on the east side of Windermere with a stunning backdrop of the Langdale Fells. Windermere is a busy lake so make sure you are aware of boats at all times.

Lloyd Motor Group is not able to assume legal responsibility for its users. While we are always keen to share our passion, in this case outdoor swimming, all swimmers must be solely responsible for making their own assessment as to the risks involved in any particular swim. Please always put safety first.

For more inspiration and information on how you can #ExploreYourWorld and get involved click here

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