Nothing beats the feeling of swimming in fresh water under an open sky. Compared to swimming indoors, the outside world makes you feel at one with nature and allows you to explore some of the most treasured places in the UK. What’s more, you get to have fun practicing your swimming skills too! So if you’ve just started outdoor swimming and you want to know where to go, or you need some inspiration for new places to explore, then take a look at these must-see destinations.
1. Lee Bay - North Devon
Situated two miles to the west of Ilfracombe and bordered by Devonshire countryside and the Bristol Channel, Lee Bay is an area of outstanding beauty. During the summer season this part of the West Country is a popular destination for families as the picturesque village experiences a maritime climate. Around low tide it’s even possible to move over the rocks on your left (as you face the beach) and reach an amazing sandy cove. This area can feel quite tropical on a warm summer’s day and is ideal for relaxing after your open water session. If you are going to venture to this part of the bay, keep a close eye on the tide as you don’t want to get cut off from the main beach and struggle to get back. Always consider your safety first. For those that aren’t up for exploring, the bay itself is also ideal for swimming and is lined with rocks and overlooked by dense woodland for the perfect setting.
2. Kynance Cove, Lizard - Cornwall
The Lizard peninsula is a historic stretch of Cornish coast and is the most southerly part of mainland UK. This breath-taking and rugged coastline features clear azure waters and during low tide you can swim to the secret bay opposite Asparagus island to observe the sea caves and rock pools. If you’re visiting this location for the first time, you won’t be disappointed by its maritime climate and distinctive yet charming character. Once you’ve finished your swim make your way back up to dry land and stop in one of the many local villages or towns for some pub food and a few drinks.
3. Gadding Dam - West Yorkshire
To the north next where you’ll find England’s highest beach - Gadding Dam. Situated on top of the moors between Todmorden and Walsden in West Yorkshire, this disused clean water reservoir is ideal for both casual swimmers and those training for a big event. On a sunny day you’ll also find people relaxing, sunbathing and picnicking on the rocks nearby. Be sure to take warm clothing, a light rain proof jacket in case the elements turn, and sturdy footwear to get to the site before you take a dip. As Gadding Dam is fairly remote, it’s also advised to leave the reservoir before the sun begins to set and casts the surrounding landscape into darkness. Good news for all of those who feel that their session has taken its toll – the pub is at the bottom of the hill, meaning you can always rehydrate and relax!
4. Woody Bay - Devon
Up for swimming near a waterfall surrounded by towering cliffs and magnificent oak trees? If so, head straight to Woody Bay in Devon. Situated west of Lynmouth on the coast of Exmoor, this cove has incredible views over the Bristol Channel and even reveals a hidden sea pool when the tide goes out. Although it takes a while to get down to the bay, the trek is certainly worth it once you arrive. If you’re lucky you may even spot some of the nesting seabirds, such as razorbills and guillemots, whilst you’re taking a quick dip. Woody Bay really is a secluded hidden gem on the UK’s coastline and is definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.
5. Ringstead Bay – Dorset
At Ringstead there is a shingle beach and surrounding cliff tops to walk along before you enter the clear waters, making this area an incredibly beautiful part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site. Even during the summer months, this amazing setting is still fairly quiet, so if you like to swim without the crowds, this one’s for you. Once you’ve been swimming here for the first time, you’ll no doubt want to return time and time again to this tranquil and calming part of the country. If you manage to capture the sun setting against the backdrop of blue sea and sky, you’ll further understand why this location easily made the cut in our list.
Time for a swim
So there you have it, five hidden gems in the UK to take a dip in the water whilst you absorb the stunning scenery around you. From the secluded coves and bays in the West Country, to unused reservoirs in the north, there’s plenty to explore on your adventures. If you feel that we’ve missed any other magical locations off our list, please feel free to add them in the comments section below. Image credit Amazing scenery image from Bigstock