There’s nothing quite like taking the plunge into an open air pool or doing a few laps in your local river. From lakes to lidos (those outdoor pools built in the 20s and 30s in an attempt to recreate beach culture in the inner city), outdoor swimming is a truly exhilarating experience.
Whether you’ve never swam alfresco before, or you’re a seasoned outdoor swimmer looking for the best body of water to showcase your skills, we’ve put together this handy guide of the top five outdoor swimming spots in the UK.
So without further ado, let’s dive right in (excuse the pun) and take a look.
1. Llyn Cau
Down the south region of Snowdonia National Park, in the shadow of the Cadair Idris Mountain, legend tells of an apparently bottomless lake.
However, don’t let the legend scare you, Llyn Cau is actually a stunningly picturesque, if not incredibly cold, glacial lake well worth a dip and swim.
Hidden amongst the awe inspiring Welsh highlands, it makes for a brilliantly refreshing plunge after a lengthy trek across the mountainside.
2. The Dart
Considered by many to be one of the most idyllic rivers for wild-swimming in the UK, the highlight of the Dart’s many attractive features has to be Newbridge.
An intricately crafted medieval granite bridge that joins the dense woodland filled river banks together with a narrow road, it’s a popular spot for whitewater kayaking and canoeing, as well as outdoor swimmers looking to take a brisk dip.
The rest of the river is either cushioned by densely wooded moorland or lined with breezy sandy bays that collect reflective river pools and fallen oak branches, giving a true sense of outdoor adventure. Rising high in Dartmoor, it’s well worth wading through given the chance.
Probably the most predictable choice on this list, the Serpentine lake in London’s Hyde Park is one of the perfect places to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy city - although there’s no guarantee it won’t be filled with people itself.
Being located in central London, the lake plays host to wide range of varied people and cultures, and has developed a following from a large community of swimmers.
Although public swimming is only possible in between May and September, if you’re aching for your alfresco fix you could always join the prestigious Serpentine Swimming Club and enjoy access to the inner city lake all year round.
4. Jubilee Pool
During the early 21st
century, the seaside was becoming increasingly popular. People flocked to the seafront for days out to enjoy the sandy beaches, ice cream cones, Punch and Judy shows and off course, open water.
This proved so popular in fact, that even the towns and cities that weren’t able to offer the seaside experience looked to recreate, and thus they opened up large seawater swimming pools, or lidos.
Among the many that were, there was one particular pool that stood out, and that still survives to this day.
The Jubilee Pool is a beautiful art deco seawater pool built directly against the shoreline of Penzance. Fringed by the often ferocious Cornish sea waves, the massive body of water has built a strong following over the years, and has become a beloved landmark for locals and visitors alike.
Although it’s currently closed, it is due to reopen again towards the end of May 2014, and we highly recommend you make your way down their when it does.
5. Tongue Pot
The Lake District completely lives up to its name, and is home to a large number of gorgeous lakes, making it the outdoor swimmers dream locale.
Visitors who plan on going for a dive are almost spoilt for choice, being given the freedom to step off the well-trodden paths and explore the wondrous rolling landscape that towers above them from a completely different perspective.
With so many memorable lakes, it’s incredibly difficult to pick one as our top choice. However, it’s the charm and setting of the Tongue Pot that makes it our personal favourite.
This breath-taking lake is actually made up of several well-sized pools of water, which are fed by a mesmerising waterfall streaming down from Scafell Pike.
Surrounded by a beautiful pebble beach, the location perfectly lends itself to those with a sense of adventure, as it gives visitors the chance to plunge into the water from high jumps, being over five metres deep.
Those looking for something more secluded may prefer Kail Pot, located just below Tongue Pot, as it’s a much shallower and more secluded spot, perfect for paddling, sunbathing and resting up before the long hike back.
These are our choices, but what do you think? Is there anywhere different that you would have picked? Is there anywhere in particular where you love to swim outdoors too? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.