The UK has some of the best wild swimming spots in Europe. The varied landscapes, abundance of epic coastlines, and range of lakes and rivers make wild swimming easy. One particular region where you can find some top spots is the north west of England. The Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, and Pennines are all beautiful locations that have some wonderful wild swimming destinations.
If you fancy a dip somewhere different, we have gathered a list of the best wild swimming hotspots in the North West. This includes lakes, rivers, and even some waterfalls – enjoy!
1. Hatchmere, Cheshire
If you want a small and secluded wild swimming hotspot, look no further than Hatchmere in Cheshire. This small body of water is to the west of Northwich and located on the boundaries of Delamere Forest Park. This extensive woodland is a great area to explore in itself with various forest trails and a Go Ape adventure park.
To access Hatchmere there are several parking options. Firstly, you could use the Delamere Forest car park and walk for approximately one mile. Next, there is the Whitefield Car Park off the B5152 which is south from the lake. Finally, if you want a quick dip, there is a pub next to the lake. The waters are relatively shallow and the scenery is fantastic, it is also relatively quiet.
2. Galleny Force, Stonethwaite
Langstrath Valley is a brilliant area in the Lake District for wild swimming and sits between two impressive mountains – Glaramara and Eagle Crag. Heading into this valley is the Willygrass Gill river. Along this river there are many amazing wild swimming hotspots and possibly one of the most popular is Galleny Force. This is a beautiful waterfall that has two pools that are great for swimming in.
There is a walking trail that follows the trail of Willygrass Gill and a great starting point is either the village of Rosthwaite or Stonethwaite. There is actually a National Trust car park at Rosthwaite but it can get busy as it is a popular area for hikers too.
The waterfall is picturesque and a little down the water is Greenup Gill which is another excellent wild swimming location. You could easily spend a day here swimming at various spots and enjoying the amazing countryside.
3. Gadding’s Dam
Reservoirs often make for excellent wild swimming spots. You can find one such spot to the south of Todmorden in the Yorkshire Dales. Gadding’s Dam is a reservoir and actually has one of the highest beaches in the UK!
It’s a decent patch of water and to reach it, you must hike from Lumbutts Road in the north or the town of Walsden to the west. Either way, it’s a short hike and the terrain is barren but beautiful.
Locals have cleaned the waters and made the area suitable for public use, and during the summer it can get busy. However, once at the top, you can swim in the clear water and even relax on the small beach!
4. Colemere, Ellesmere
In the heart of Cheshire not far from Whitchurch you can find a handful of small lakes near the Wood Lane Nature Reserve. One such lake is the beautiful Colemere. This is a quiet and secluded mere that is surrounded by woodland on three sides. It is used officially by the Colemere Sailing Club, but it is also a popular discrete wild swimming location.
There is a public car park to the southern side of the lake, and a footpath that leads to its banks. The footpath follows the entire lake and is handy to walk around to dry off and regain some body heat after your swim. In the surrounding area, you can find 8 other similar lakes including The Mere, Cross Mere, and White Mere.
5. Loughrigg Tarn, Loughrigg
Whilst the great lakes of the Lake District may look attractive, you can also find many smaller tarns that make for amazing wild swimming locations. One such spot is Loughrigg Tarn which lies to the west of Ambleside and to the north west of Windemere.
This small tarn is easily accessible and has a variety of walking trails that go around it. You can find a few scattered parking spaces along the roads that pass the tarn, and there is also a small campsite at the southern side of the water.
The scenery surrounding Loughrigg Tarn is beautiful and the waters are relatively warm too. It will make for a peaceful and enjoyable wild swimming experience in the heart of the Lake District. The wider area is also great to explore and not too far from popular sites like Helvellyn, and Coniston Water.
6. Black Moss Pot, Eagle Crag
One of the best wild swimming hotspots in the North West has to be Black Moss Pot near Eagle Crag. This is not particularly an easily accessible wild swimming spot, and you will have to hike for at least 2 miles to reach it. However, the trek is definitely worth it, and this is one of the most exciting wild swimming spots you will find.
Black Moss Pot is located in Langstrath Valley which in itself is an amazing place to hike and explore. The whole stretch has some great wild swimming locations as the river runs along the entire course. However, the best spot is the pot itself. This is a deep section that has cliffs approx. 6m high – jumping from the top is quite an experience!
Most people park in Rosthwaite, or Borrowdale, and simply hike along the course of the river – there is also the amazing Galleny Force along this route which is listed above.
7. Sprinkling Tarn, Keswick
The areas surrounding Scafell Pike have some brilliant high tarns (lakes) that make for excellent swimming spots. One of the best wild swimming hotspots in the north west is therefore Sprinkling Tarn. This high tarn actually lies in the shadow of the mighty Scafell Pike and is perfect for swimming, diving, and resting during an epic hike.
It is also a beautiful spot for wild camping. For access, there are several options. Firstly, you could park at Seathwaite which is a small farming area that has parking. Alternatively, another popular parking spot is Wasdale Head Car Park. This is the main car park for Scafell Pike and has plenty of spaces.
Either way, expect a decent trek to find Sprinkling Tarn. However, it is located on one of the maintained walking trails.
8. Buckstones Jum, Ambleside
To the north of Ambleside in the Lake District and not far from the popular Rydal Water, you can find Buckstones Jum. This is one of the best wild swimming hotspots in the north west due to its secluded setting and the amazing landscapes that surround it.
One of the best starting points for this wild swimming hotspot is Pelter Bridge Car Park which is next to Rydal Water. Alternatively, if you are stopping overnight in Ambleside, you could easily hike from the town. From Rydal Water, it is approximately a 1.5-mile hike to reach Buckstones Jum.
The pool itself is relatively small and it has an unusual triangular shape. There is also a small pebble beach and along the stretch of water, you can find some cool waterfalls too. It’s an amazing place to explore and swimming here could make for a great stop during a longer trek in this region of the Lake District.
Advice for Wild Swimming in the UK
To finish let’s look at some general wild swimming advice for the UK. Firstly, you should understand the water you intend to swim in. How deep is it? Is there a strong current? What are the average temperatures of the water? Understanding this information will help you prepare and find the best time to swim.
Next, if you are exploring one of the wild swimming hotspots in the north west for the first time, don’t go alone. It is best practice to swim with at least one other person. This gives you both a safeguard if something should happen.
Also, consider your health and safety. If you wild swim regularly, you should be able to swim without a wetsuit for around 20 minutes. If you intend to swim for longer, or are a beginner, a wetsuit is a must. This can help regulate body temperatures and prevent hypothermia. Consider also what clothes you have to dry off in, and other items like a towel.
Explore the North-West and Experience Wild Swimming at its Best
Wild swimming is an amazing experience. Forget about swimming in a comfortable indoor swimming pool. If you want to experience gorgeous scenery and swim in beautiful waters, wild swimming is the way. It may be a little cold at times, but it is reward and incredibly enjoyable!
As you can see, there is a great range of wild swimming hotspots in the North West of England. The Lake District in particular has an amazing variety of rivers, lakes, and hidden pools waiting to be explored. If you are looking for something different to do in 2021, why not visit one or more of these wild swimming hotspots and get back to nature?