15 Beautiful Wild Swimming Spots in the UK

March 27, 2024 in Tips for Travellers, England, Experiences, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales & United Kingdom

There is nothing quite like diving into a natural pool. It’s usually quite cold, which can be refreshing on a hot day, and a shock to the system on any other traditionally British day, but it’s like pressing refresh on your mind. It’s an adrenaline rush, a sense of joy embedded in each drop of water. We’ll spend our lives chasing the happy feeling of wild swimming, and we’ll do it at these incredible spots. 
wild swimming spots uk wild swimming locations best places to go We’ve rounded up the 15 best places to go wild swimming across the UK, including locations in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. So grab your swimmers and a towel, it’s time to uncover the best places to take a dip in nature. 

Wild swimming locations in England

1. Kailpot Crag, Ullswater, Cumbria

Surprisingly, you’ll never find Kailpot Crag too crowded, even on the sunniest of days. This is because it is located on Ullswater’s quieter east side, and doesn't have a main road running along it. You can walk over from Sandwick or Howtown, and even jump in from the rocky cliffs surrounding it. The deep waters are calm and perfect for swimmers of all abilities.

2. Linhope Spout, Northumberland

Taken straight from the pages of a fantasy novel, this plunge pool looks absolutely magical. And after taking a swim in it, this magic will certainly rub off on your mood. Located in a wooded glade in the middle of the stunning Northumberland National Park, an 18-metre waterfall crashes down into this small pool. We recommend hiking to this gorgeous spot and then cooling off with a swim. 

3. River Isis, Port Meadow, Oxford

Oxford is one of the perfect weekend breaks from London, and this natural swimming spot will cleanse you of the hustle and bustle of the city. It’s located by the upper reaches of the Thames, although around here, they refer to it as the Isis. 

The best spot to dive in is near Fiddler’s Island, by central Oxford. Or you can head upriver to Godstow and Wolvercote, which still has the remains of a former bathing place. 

4. Windermere, Lake District

As if you needed another reason to visit the stunning Lake District! Windermere is a natural choice for our list of the best wild swimming spots in the UK, as it is the largest natural lake in England. But this grand size can make it difficult to know where to swim, so we recommend trying Miller Ground. It’s a short walk from Windermere itself and offers parking beside the lake. You can wade in from the shallows or jump in from one of the jetties. Just don’t get too distracted by the stunning views while swimming!

Wild swimming locations in Wales

5. Blue Lagoon, Pembrokeshire

This might be the most famous wild swimming spot on our list, and it’s not to be confused with the Blue Lagoon in Iceland—although we think it’s just as beautiful!

You can take a dip in the former quarry, the minerals of which give it this sparkling blue colour. Don’t worry, it’s completely safe! This deep pool is surrounded by craggy cliffs and sandy beaches. It’s popular for swimming, coasteering, and kayaking. You can even take a dive from the high cliffs but definitely do this as part of an organised group to ensure safety. It’s also one of the stops on our Pembrokeshire Coast road trip itinerary

6. Ffrwy Fawr, Powys

Wales is filled with hidden pools to uncover, and Ffrwy Fawr is a great example of that. While exploring the majestic Bannau Brycheiniog, take a dip in these fresh pools. The waterfalls feed directly into them but aren’t strong enough to build a current, so you can happily paddle about. It’s even safe for little ones or four-legged friends!

7. Afon Prysor, Snowdonia

In contrast to Ffrwy Fawr, the waterfall at Afon Prysor is much stronger. But as long as you’re a comfortable swimmer, you can enjoy the icy depths of this natural pool. And by icy, we do mean cold, as this natural swimming spot is cold all year long. But that makes it even more refreshing and energising. 

8. Llyn Gaslyn, Snowdonia

Follow in the footsteps of the mythical King Arthur, or the paddlestrokes, I suppose? This wild swimming location in Wales is where King Arthur hid Excalibur and where his body was later carried away by boat to Avalon. While you might not find a powerful sword here (one might hope), you will find crystal-clear waters, autumnal foliage and plenty of space to swim. 

Wild swimming locations in Scotland

9. Falls of Falloch, Crianlarich

Take a swim in Rob Roy’s Bathtub, no really! The Falls of Falloch got this affectionate nickname through a fabled Scottish outlaw who may or may not have swam here. This tranquil spot is set in the shadow of Ben Lui, and surrounded by thick foliage. A dramatic ten-metre waterfall cascades into this plunge pool, making it the perfect way to cool off on a hot summer’s day. It’s situated just off the West Highland Way and can be accessed via a bumpy farm track.

10. Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye

It’s no surprise that one of the best places to go wild swimming in the UK is on the Isle of Skye, one of the most popular holiday destinations in Scotland. The Fairy Pools are very appropriately named, and a delightful place to take a dip. You can paddle around to the magical backdrop of waterfalls and mountains. Be warned that it can get rather busy here in the summer, so we recommend braving the cold water using the Wim Hof method, and instead visiting in spring or autumn. 

There are many excellent campsites on the Isle of Skye where you can pitch your motorhome and have a great night’s sleep after all that swimming.

11. Isle of Arran

The sea beside the Isle of Arran and Holy Isle is incredible for wild swimming. It is teeming with wildlife, so you’ll have to get used to sharing the water with an array of fish, anemones, urchins and more. But don’t worry, nothing too dangerous! The “No Take Zone” between Holy Isle and Lamlash Bay ensures that the ecosystems thrive here, so please respect this protected area as you would any other wild swimming spot.

12. Loch Morlich, Highlands

You can’t visit Scotland without taking a dip in a loch—unless it’s winter, in which case we’ll give you a free pass in the name of hypothermia! Loch Mirlich is perfect for this, as it is home to Britain’s highest beach. This sandy beach is perfect for sunbathing after your swim or enjoying a delicious picnic of local delicacies. The loch’s waters are cool but inviting, located in the foothills of the country’s largest mountain range. You can also rent paddle boards, canoes and kayaks from the on-site activity centre. 

Wild swimming locations in Northern Ireland

13. Ballintoy Harbour, Causeway Coast

How would you like to swim by the ‘Iron Islands’ from Game of Thrones? Don’t worry, there’s nothing as dangerous here. This is a popular wild swimming location in Northern Ireland, not just for its celebrity status, but also because of the incredible views and manageable waves. 

14. Kilclief Beach, Downpatrick

Take a dip by this picturesque beach along the narrows of Strangford Lough, one of the most calming beaches in all of Northern Ireland. You’ll get to enjoy the majestic backdrop of an ancient castle, which dates back to 1413. On a clear day, you’ll even be able to spot the Isle of Man on the horizon. 

15. Bloody Bridge, Ballahbeg

Don’t let the name deter you, this is actually a beautiful place to go wild swimming. It gained its unfortunate name due to a gruesome massacre in 1641. Located just outside Newcastle, at the foot of the Mourne Mountains, this moody, lagoon-like stretch of water is an amazing place to swim wild. The name will likely deter others from swimming there, so you’ll have the place to yourself.

Whether you’re hardy enough to go whatever the weather, or waiting for the first rays of sunshine, make sure to visit these great wild swimming spots in the UK. At first, it might be a little chilly, but persevere, and you’ll quickly adjust. Swimming outdoors means no chlorine, no crowds, and an incredible view to soak up while soaking. 

If you prefer warmer waters, check out our favourite UK campsites with a swimming pool. Or keep your clothes on and head to one of the best dog-walking destinations in the UK instead.