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Free Wild Swimming an essential guide with best places to swim in the UK, rivers, lakes, waterfalls with water safety and tips
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Free Wild Swimming an essential guide with best places to swim in the UK, rivers, lakes, waterfalls with water safety and tips

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Refreshed 25th Jul (Posted 23rd Jun)
Summer is here so I wanted to share this fantastic article from Countryfile all about Wild swimming which is totally Free.


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countryfile.com/go-…ed/

Dive into our essential guide to wild swimming with our pick of the best places to swim in the UK, water safety and tips on how to get started.


Here are a couple of my favourite spots in Yorkshire


Lumb Falls near Hebden bridge is a hidden gem if can make the trek down it’s a tricky spot to get too

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The River Wharfe, Ilkley is a lovely place to swim it’s often very busy on a sunny day


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Here are a couple of wild swimming site where you can search for locations

wildswim.com/

wildswimming.co.uk/

How to stay safe wild swimming

Open water is usually cold and may be very deep. There can be hazards like shopping trolleys or broken glass in rivers and lakes. Shingle beaches ‘shelve’ quickly, often becoming very deep not far from shore. Riverbanks can be slippery and hard to climb.

These potential hazards don’t mean you should stick to indoor swimming pools, but it’s good to be prepared. Here is our outdoor swimming water safety guide.


1 Check the current

If you discover a river of cool water and you’re itching to dive in, check the water’s flow first. Throw in a stick or branch – if it floats off faster than you can swim, you won’t be able to beat the current when returning upstream. Avoid.

2 Gauge the depth

Diving or jumping should be carried out with great caution, even if you frequent a particular spot. Rocks, sand, branches and rubbish may have been swept downstream, creating shallow patches and hazards. If you must dive or jump always check the water is obstacle free and gauge the depth first by getting in and checking it out from the water, not from the side.

3 Don’t get too cold

Outdoor swimming spots are often chilly, even in the summer months, so zip yourself up in a wetsuit and work on acclimatising slowly (see our guide to acclimatisation above).
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Not voting hot or cold as I've seen beautiful places get absolutely ruined once they become popular.

If you do this, please clear up your rubbish. You're probably going to take a picnic, which is natures bane because people tend to just leave it. Before long the entire place is ruined.
Whats next, UK guide to best trees where you can take a dump.
GothBoy23/06/2019 23:04

Can I point out that you should ALWAYS ensure that any cosmetics, …Can I point out that you should ALWAYS ensure that any cosmetics, including things like sunblock, are fully safe for the aquatic environment. In a perfect situation you should have had a freshwater shower before you left home without the use of any soaps, shampoos, deodorants or makeup during or afterwards. Please remember that this isn't a chlorinated swimming pool, it is a natural environment with a very delicate balance where your body spray may well cause ecological disaster.The same applies to your swimming gear (including shoes). It should have been thoroughly washed in disinfectant, then washed again in clean water to remove all traces, then finally thoroughly dried. This must happen between every different swimming site (if they're on different water sources) to prevent the transfer of potentially disastrous pathogens or other wildlife between catchments. You do not want to be the person responsible for the annihilation of something like the native crayfish or the introduction of a fungus that kills an endangered species.There's a lot to countryside & environmental care that articles like this never actually delve into fully.


Have you any science to back this up? I've witnessed an entire milk truck being poured into a river and there was no noticeable long term effect (I actually did a proper science study - it's online somewhere - found it jstor.org, search for River Lagan). I seriously doubt you would have any effect on a body of water that covers 38000Ha, or is flowing... Happy to be proved wrong...
Can I point out that you should ALWAYS ensure that any cosmetics, including things like sunblock, are fully safe for the aquatic environment. In a perfect situation you should have had a freshwater shower before you left home without the use of any soaps, shampoos, deodorants or makeup during or afterwards. Please remember that this isn't a chlorinated swimming pool, it is a natural environment with a very delicate balance where your body spray may well cause ecological disaster.

The same applies to your swimming gear (including shoes). It should have been thoroughly washed in disinfectant, then washed again in clean water to remove all traces, then finally thoroughly dried. This must happen between every different swimming site (if they're on different water sources) to prevent the transfer of potentially disastrous pathogens or other wildlife between catchments. You do not want to be the person responsible for the annihilation of something like the native crayfish or the introduction of a fungus that kills an endangered species.

There's a lot to countryside & environmental care that articles like this never actually delve into fully.
87 Comments
Not voting hot or cold as I've seen beautiful places get absolutely ruined once they become popular.

If you do this, please clear up your rubbish. You're probably going to take a picnic, which is natures bane because people tend to just leave it. Before long the entire place is ruined.
Heat
Thanks for sharing I m from Yorkshire and never knew we got these amazing spots on our doorstep
aminapirwani23/06/2019 22:30

Thanks for sharing I m from Yorkshire and never knew we got these amazing …Thanks for sharing I m from Yorkshire and never knew we got these amazing spots on our doorstep


Yes we are very lucky in Yorkshire there are many beautiful places for outdoor swimming.

You could also look at Bolton Abbey, Janet Floss waterfall in Malham
Whats next, UK guide to best trees where you can take a dump.
Can I point out that you should ALWAYS ensure that any cosmetics, including things like sunblock, are fully safe for the aquatic environment. In a perfect situation you should have had a freshwater shower before you left home without the use of any soaps, shampoos, deodorants or makeup during or afterwards. Please remember that this isn't a chlorinated swimming pool, it is a natural environment with a very delicate balance where your body spray may well cause ecological disaster.

The same applies to your swimming gear (including shoes). It should have been thoroughly washed in disinfectant, then washed again in clean water to remove all traces, then finally thoroughly dried. This must happen between every different swimming site (if they're on different water sources) to prevent the transfer of potentially disastrous pathogens or other wildlife between catchments. You do not want to be the person responsible for the annihilation of something like the native crayfish or the introduction of a fungus that kills an endangered species.

There's a lot to countryside & environmental care that articles like this never actually delve into fully.
myusernamehasgone23423/06/2019 22:35

Yes we are very lucky in Yorkshire there are many beautiful places for …Yes we are very lucky in Yorkshire there are many beautiful places for outdoor swimming.You could also look at Bolton Abbey, Janet Floss waterfall in Malham


Thanks dear
GothBoy23/06/2019 23:04

Can I point out that you should ALWAYS ensure that any cosmetics, …Can I point out that you should ALWAYS ensure that any cosmetics, including things like sunblock, are fully safe for the aquatic environment. In a perfect situation you should have had a freshwater shower before you left home without the use of any soaps, shampoos, deodorants or makeup during or afterwards. Please remember that this isn't a chlorinated swimming pool, it is a natural environment with a very delicate balance where your body spray may well cause ecological disaster.The same applies to your swimming gear (including shoes). It should have been thoroughly washed in disinfectant, then washed again in clean water to remove all traces, then finally thoroughly dried. This must happen between every different swimming site (if they're on different water sources) to prevent the transfer of potentially disastrous pathogens or other wildlife between catchments. You do not want to be the person responsible for the annihilation of something like the native crayfish or the introduction of a fungus that kills an endangered species.There's a lot to countryside & environmental care that articles like this never actually delve into fully.


Have you any science to back this up? I've witnessed an entire milk truck being poured into a river and there was no noticeable long term effect (I actually did a proper science study - it's online somewhere - found it jstor.org, search for River Lagan). I seriously doubt you would have any effect on a body of water that covers 38000Ha, or is flowing... Happy to be proved wrong...
Where's the guide for Northern Ireland? Seems lacking... There are some good wet bouldering opportunities too (Maggies leap, Newcastle). Duncans Dam - once used to supply drinking water is a popular place for canoeing though. Does swimming in the sea count? Another awesome place - if somewhat reminiscent of the film Cacoon, Herring pool.
There is a FaceBook page worth checking out. Most of my outdoor swimming is in the sea or lakes - it's just more accessible.
Also I think the best bit about swimming in the UK is the lack of dangerous indigenous animals - no piranhas, no sharks or crocodiles. I guess we have foxes & pike though...
Oh and another thing - you can pick up those "emergency blankets" from the pound store - handy to have along with a basic first aid kit - with water proof plasters! Nothing worse than getting a scrape on the rocks and bleeding everywhere! I'd also recommend a litre or two of drinking water - especially if you are swimming in the sea! I'm in the mood to go for a midnight swim now!

Unfortunately I wrote a long response that the app decided to destroy. I have two decades of experience in the sector & specialise in Qualitative & Quantitative Risk Assessment of human health & ecology with regards to contamination & pollution. I worked for the Environment Agency, amongst others, & have produced numerous reports & policies on the matter. I have also represented in the European Parliament on the pollution of water resources.

Most water based societies will have guidelines relating to the biological hazards of transferring organisms between catchments on wet boots etc. A good place to look would be RYA or NonNativeSpecies.org, both explain the process required to prevent the movement of things like fungus or parasites.

What you must remember is that not all of the sites people will swim in are fast flowing or have rapid replenishment of the water so any pollutants may not be diluted are dispersed quickly. Something like a spray-on insecticide (off the top of my head I recall some containing permethrin) can kill benthic invertebrates & if you have a cohort of people (or even a Nuclear Family) all splashing about washing it into the water then it's not great. Just because a water system can recover it doesn't give anyone the right to damage it in the first place.
Google the "Check, Clean, Dry" initiative for biosecurity information & advice as to the concerns around moving between bodies of water.
This is nice when the weather is actually/ever going to be nice
padamowicz9323/06/2019 22:59

Whats next, UK guide to best trees where you can take a dump.


Where you can take your dog for a crap and leave it, covers all of the UK including parks and beaches

Followed by where you can let your dog run wild and are children present - this one's called he wouldn't hurt anyone he a friendly dog
Edited by: "OutwithCameron1" 24th Jun
aLV42624/06/2019 01:43

Have you any science to back this up? I've witnessed an entire milk truck …Have you any science to back this up? I've witnessed an entire milk truck being poured into a river and there was no noticeable long term effect (I actually did a proper science study - it's online somewhere - found it https://www.jstor.org, search for River Lagan). I seriously doubt you would have any effect on a body of water that covers 38000Ha, or is flowing... Happy to be proved wrong...


I would not say milk is toxic like other chemicals.Yes I know what your on about and it will all eventually be dispersed. But I still think its a good point about pollution. That's why your meant to shower before going in to a swimming pool
myusernamehasgone23423/06/2019 22:35

Yes we are very lucky in Yorkshire there are many beautiful places for …Yes we are very lucky in Yorkshire there are many beautiful places for outdoor swimming.You could also look at Bolton Abbey, Janet Floss waterfall in Malham


I've been to Bolton Abbey and Malham cove, absolutely beautiful.
Just a point please know your limits everyone, a guy in the US died a few days ago doing some swimming in a lake. No matter how strong a swimmer we are we all get tired.
Ludicrous, who would ever attempt this? Oh well I suppose it could come in handy as the council has closed our local swimming pool
BIGTAM24/06/2019 08:25

I would not say milk is toxic like other chemicals.Yes I know what your on …I would not say milk is toxic like other chemicals.Yes I know what your on about and it will all eventually be dispersed. But I still think its a good point about pollution. That's why your meant to shower before going in to a swimming pool


That's advice for a chlorinated pool - natural body oils & cosmetics can cause reactions with the chlorine (halogenated by-products (HBPs)). Yes swimming in a river, lake or the sea will cause the same natural body oils & cosmetics to mix into the water, however the percentages are much smaller and there would be little chemical reaction. Milk in a river course is toxic to the local wildlife - it can also cause blooms of algae...thebureauinvestigates.com/sto…-uk
Given all the other sources of pollution I doubt there would be a significant impact from unwashed bodies enetering water courses...
GothBoy24/06/2019 02:15

Google the "Check, Clean, Dry" initiative for biosecurity information & …Google the "Check, Clean, Dry" initiative for biosecurity information & advice as to the concerns around moving between bodies of water.


This doesn't really apply to swimmers as cross contamination of large bodies of water is unlikely... Wet suits can be a source of contamination, however the volume is so small as to be statistically insignificant... I guess that's why advice for swimmers is not included...
GothBoy23/06/2019 23:04

Can I point out that you should ALWAYS ensure that any cosmetics, …Can I point out that you should ALWAYS ensure that any cosmetics, including things like sunblock, are fully safe for the aquatic environment. In a perfect situation you should have had a freshwater shower before you left home without the use of any soaps, shampoos, deodorants or makeup during or afterwards. Please remember that this isn't a chlorinated swimming pool, it is a natural environment with a very delicate balance where your body spray may well cause ecological disaster.The same applies to your swimming gear (including shoes). It should have been thoroughly washed in disinfectant, then washed again in clean water to remove all traces, then finally thoroughly dried. This must happen between every different swimming site (if they're on different water sources) to prevent the transfer of potentially disastrous pathogens or other wildlife between catchments. You do not want to be the person responsible for the annihilation of something like the native crayfish or the introduction of a fungus that kills an endangered species.There's a lot to countryside & environmental care that articles like this never actually delve into fully.


I just can’t imagine 99% of folks having the foresight to follow this advice. Most of the time you see some suitable water and jump in.

If its red hot day folks will be wanting to wear suncream to protect themselves from sunburn and ultimately skin cancers.

Many people just strip down to there boxers on a warm day and jump in to a first body of water they come across.

The nature reserve near me allows wild swimming in one lake and they have never stipulated anything like you have said.

I fear you will be putting people off enjoying the wonderful experience of wild swimming by over complicating it.
Heavy_metal_man24/06/2019 14:24

Just a point please know your limits everyone, a guy in the US died a few …Just a point please know your limits everyone, a guy in the US died a few days ago doing some swimming in a lake. No matter how strong a swimmer we are we all get tired.


Absolutely remember to stay safe.

Here is a useful guide

wildswimming.co.uk/hea…ty/

I will add it to the post

Never swim alone or after drinking.

Be aware of cold water shock and how to avoid it and manage it.

I have witnessed first hand a guy get into trouble in the river wharf Ilkley as the water was deeper than he thought he was luckily rescued by someone with a dingy.

Do take care folks.
uk is so cold to swim!
Last summer was red hot.

There were plenty of opportunities to get in the water.

We swam a lot last year in various locations around Yorkshire
padamowicz9323/06/2019 22:59

Whats next, UK guide to best trees where you can take a dump.


Link please...
aminapirwani23/06/2019 22:30

Thanks for sharing I m from Yorkshire and never knew we got these amazing …Thanks for sharing I m from Yorkshire and never knew we got these amazing spots on our doorstep


You didn't know that the Wharfe ran through Ilkley? That picture is pretty much by the centre of Ilkley isn't it?
peakbear24/06/2019 20:26

You didn't know that the Wharfe ran through Ilkley? That picture is pretty …You didn't know that the Wharfe ran through Ilkley? That picture is pretty much by the centre of Ilkley isn't it?



myusernamehasgone23423/06/2019 22:35

Absolutely love swimming at Gaddings Dam. Best swimming pool in the world …Absolutely love swimming at Gaddings Dam. Best swimming pool in the world in my eyes on a good day


Absolutely love swimming at Gadding Dam. Beautiful and feel like your on top of the world
Thanks again @myusernamehasgone234 we have added this to the Highlights page
R U allowed to swim there without hi-viz, safety boots, hazard lights and bumper cap? Just asking.
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padamowicz9323/06/2019 22:59

Whats next, UK guide to best trees where you can take a dump.


Well I reckon this one looks good37928934-VQc8w.jpg
Avatar
deleted2128964
Yeah that spot at Ilkley gets busy, it's shallow at the edges especially in summer but the middle is pretty deep, it's not far to get to for us but we went "posh" at the height of last year's heatwave, just over the road is Ilkley open air lido, it was refreshing to put it mildly !
deleted212896424/06/2019 22:34

Yeah that spot at Ilkley gets busy, it's shallow at the edges especially …Yeah that spot at Ilkley gets busy, it's shallow at the edges especially in summer but the middle is pretty deep, it's not far to get to for us but we went "posh" at the height of last year's heatwave, just over the road is Ilkley open air lido, it was refreshing to put it mildly !


Yep refreshing is a bit of an understatement it’s always blooming freezing at the lido.

I do really like the lido though but will only brave it on the hottest of days. It’s good to dive in the deep end to cool off. My lads don’t seem to bother about it been cold and will happily spend the whole day in and out of the water
Edited by: "myusernamehasgone234" 24th Jun
Haha at all the "you must shower before swimming in a river".

It's a bloody huge river or lake. You are a tiny human. You are not going to kill all the fish because you have some suntan lotion on.

We often swim in the Thames (way upstream from London). Much better then the swimming pool and free. Just need to get over the preconception that you can only swim in chlorinated, aqua blue water and you'll be fine.
GothBoy23/06/2019 23:04

Can I point out that you should ALWAYS ensure that any cosmetics, …Can I point out that you should ALWAYS ensure that any cosmetics, including things like sunblock, are fully safe for the aquatic environment. In a perfect situation you should have had a freshwater shower before you left home without the use of any soaps, shampoos, deodorants or makeup during or afterwards. Please remember that this isn't a chlorinated swimming pool, it is a natural environment with a very delicate balance where your body spray may well cause ecological disaster.The same applies to your swimming gear (including shoes). It should have been thoroughly washed in disinfectant, then washed again in clean water to remove all traces, then finally thoroughly dried. This must happen between every different swimming site (if they're on different water sources) to prevent the transfer of potentially disastrous pathogens or other wildlife between catchments. You do not want to be the person responsible for the annihilation of something like the native crayfish or the introduction of a fungus that kills an endangered species.There's a lot to countryside & environmental care that articles like this never actually delve into fully.



I'm not going to disinfect clothes and studiously check what in wearing sorry I'm going to take a dip into nature . No offense but I find it over the top. What happened to spontaneity !!!
TipsyNurse25/06/2019 00:04

Haha at all the "you must shower before swimming in a river".It's a bloody …Haha at all the "you must shower before swimming in a river".It's a bloody huge river or lake. You are a tiny human. You are not going to kill all the fish because you have some suntan lotion on.We often swim in the Thames (way upstream from London). Much better then the swimming pool and free. Just need to get over the preconception that you can only swim in chlorinated, aqua blue water and you'll be fine.


It only takes one egg from an invasive species, a couple of bacteria, a few fungal spores or a single seed to cause a huge problem. That's why there are guidelines for swimmers in places like the Lake District relating to biosecurity measures. Every open water swimming event should have them too. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the volume of the water body. Hawaii has recently passed a law to ban non-aquatic safe sunscreen from use in the Pacific Ocean.

Anyone who remembers the problems caused by Azolla when even a tiny bit trapped on the foot of a bird that had visited someone's garden pond could cause ecosystem collapse when it fell off into natural ponds. Duckweed is a great example too, anyone who has seen it magically appear in their garden pond from seemingly nowhere can attest to how invasive something can be from a tiny source (usually a seed or leaf caught on a bird, or on a visiting amphibian).

We need to take care of the environment we have and realise we are all individually responsible. Just because someone else can't be bothered it's not a valid reason to not bother yourself.
it’s cold 90% of the time in England so if you can tolerate that then good on you. Also don’t litter or pollute the beautiful places we have. Also plant some flowers for the bees
GothBoy24/06/2019 02:11

Unfortunately I wrote a long response that the app decided to destroy. I …Unfortunately I wrote a long response that the app decided to destroy. I have two decades of experience in the sector & specialise in Qualitative & Quantitative Risk Assessment of human health & ecology with regards to contamination & pollution. I worked for the Environment Agency, amongst others, & have produced numerous reports & policies on the matter. I have also represented in the European Parliament on the pollution of water resources. Most water based societies will have guidelines relating to the biological hazards of transferring organisms between catchments on wet boots etc. A good place to look would be RYA or NonNativeSpecies.org, both explain the process required to prevent the movement of things like fungus or parasites. What you must remember is that not all of the sites people will swim in are fast flowing or have rapid replenishment of the water so any pollutants may not be diluted are dispersed quickly. Something like a spray-on insecticide (off the top of my head I recall some containing permethrin) can kill benthic invertebrates & if you have a cohort of people (or even a Nuclear Family) all splashing about washing it into the water then it's not great. Just because a water system can recover it doesn't give anyone the right to damage it in the first place.


I hear what you are saying, however the logistics don't work - for example when I did a study on the river Lagan I found pollution at every stage - the worst pollution was at the source - due to a rotting sheep carcass in the flow. The "science" behind having a shower prior to swimming is kinda defeated after a natural event like that. You did give me a chuckle with this statement though: Most water based societies...- I think you'll find that's all societies (I'm not aware of any non-water based society)....
Also what about storm water drain off? That adds more pollution to a water course way than any amount of swimmers would...
My studies have been published and are available online (I provided the links in an earlier post). Care to share your papers and or reports? I'd imagine they are public record?
Oh I almost forgot (It's a paper I published many years ago about the toxic levels of pollution in Hillsborough lake) - the lake sees many swimmers/bathers and the cause of the blue-green algae has nothing to do with swimmers...
azual24/06/2019 18:09

uk is so cold to swim!


toughen up, buttercup
GothBoy23/06/2019 23:04

Can I point out that you should ALWAYS ensure that any cosmetics, …Can I point out that you should ALWAYS ensure that any cosmetics, including things like sunblock, are fully safe for the aquatic environment. In a perfect situation you should have had a freshwater shower before you left home without the use of any soaps, shampoos, deodorants or makeup during or afterwards. Please remember that this isn't a chlorinated swimming pool, it is a natural environment with a very delicate balance where your body spray may well cause ecological disaster.The same applies to your swimming gear (including shoes). It should have been thoroughly washed in disinfectant, then washed again in clean water to remove all traces, then finally thoroughly dried. This must happen between every different swimming site (if they're on different water sources) to prevent the transfer of potentially disastrous pathogens or other wildlife between catchments. You do not want to be the person responsible for the annihilation of something like the native crayfish or the introduction of a fungus that kills an endangered species.There's a lot to countryside & environmental care that articles like this never actually delve into fully.


There's always one trying to ruin the party...

I understand the theory of what you are saying but the reality is that if I choose not to to wash my deodorant off in pure water before going for a dip in my local lake, nothing bad is going to happen. Pesticides and fertilizers entering the aquatic ecosystem are probably more of a risk than a couple of squirts of Lynx Africa.
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