Dive into Five Natural Outdoor Swimming Spots

July 12, 2016

From waterfalls in the the Brecon Beacons to bubbling brooks in Dartmoor, we round up five great places in the UK to take a dip in the wild.

On a hot summer’s day (if the weather holds up), there’s nothing more satisfying than a refreshing dip to cool off. Forget swimming pools and lidos, though, and take a walk on the wild side with these five natural swimming spots in the UK. With stunning views, a calming atmosphere and a ton of health benefits, from increasing libido to bringing down blood pressure, there’s plenty of reasons to dive into the UK’s rivers, waterfalls, lakes and ponds.

Brace yourselves for a chilly plunge (they are in the UK after all) but it’ll all be worth it. There’s bound to be a country pub nearby for some well-deserved tipples post-shiver. Here, we round up five of the best natural swimming spots to visit before summer's out.

1. Lower Ddwli Falls, Waterfall Woods, Brecon Beacons

A waterfall in the Brecon Beacons, England, UK

Deep in the Brecon Beacons, you’ll discover the most incredible waterfall plunge pools. With more than 20 pools along the Mellte and Fechan rivers, you could make a day of it walking the whole length of the region and taking a dip in each of the pools or stay the weekend in a hotel to take a more leisurely pace. The best area by all accounts is the Lower Ddwli Falls with a large open pool and a majestic waterfall. Go on a sunny day to catch the many rainbows. 

2. Hampstead Heath Ponds, London

Hampstead Heath Ponds, London, England, UK

Hampstead Heath is an idyllic spot for a picnic on a sunny day in London town but it’s also a great place for a dip. On every Londoner’s bucket list, you’ll find three stunning swimming ponds: one for ladies, one for gents and the third a mix. In high summer, the mixed pool is the place to be with the lawns on either side making the perfect picnic spot but if you don't fancy eating al fresco, you'll find great restaurants in the Hampstead Heath area.

3. Salmon Leaps, River Teign, Dartmoor

The Salmon Leaps in Dartmoor, England, UK

Wild swimming doesn’t get much better than this area of Dartmoor which is also great for a staycation. The River Teign has everything you could want: a calm river, a tranquil pool, grassy banks and the Victorian Salmon Leaps, which consists of three cascading plunge pools below Castle Drogo. Bob about in the bubbling water for an exhilarating Jacuzzi-like experience. But here’s a heads up: it won’t be warmest of spa experiences.

4. Ullswater, Lake District

Ullswater Lake, the Lake District, UK

Ullswater isn’t just one of the prettiest spots in the Lake District but it also has plenty of opportunities for the avid yet adventurous swimmer. With twisted old oaks and silvery rowan trees, there’s a great jump from the high gnarly crag into the deep, clear waters. Facing west, go for a sunset swim or the beach nearby is a great spot for watching the sun go down with a drink in hand and the bbq lit. Why not stay with friends in a lake house for a relaxing weekend away to make the most of this stunning area.

5. Blue Pool, Friog, Fairbourne, Wales

Quarry Lake, Wales, UK

That it's only accessible via a low, spooky railway bridge shouldn't put you off visiting the Blue Pool, an incredible disused slate quarry. This deep, green-blue pool has spectacular views over Cadigan Bay, Cadair Idris and the Rhinog mountains. With smooth, vertical walls, it’s the closest thing to a wild swimming pool. Go on a day trip by car to take in the rest of surrounding scenery.

Any swimming spots to add to the list? Tweet us @Travioor or post a comment on Travioor's Facebook

Jenny McFarlane
Born in Belfast, Jenny’s lived in Albania and Washington DC. Now in London, she loves to plan trips away with friends and travels as often as she can. From joining a motley crew on a yacht in Croatia to walking on the wild side in Borneo, she's always up for new adventures. Follow her on Twitter @jennykmac