Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Five of the Best Wild Swimming Spots in the UK

Swimming is one of the best all-around exercises you can do. Even if you’re not doing lengths or time trials, simply spending some time in the water can have all kinds of therapeutic and muscular benefits. For many of us, it might seem like the only viable options for it are marinating in a manmade pool of chlorinated concoction or bobbing up and down in the waves, trying not to swallow any seawater.

There are, in fact, many freshwater or ‘wild swimming’ options dotted around Britain which can be amazing experiences if the weather is right. Some of these places are so removed from the kind of thing you expect to see woven into the British landscape, it’s kind of mind boggling, and when you add in the fact that you needn’t just look on with wonder, it’s even better.

River Lugg – Herefordshire

The Guardian
If you want to see an amazing river landscape, look no further than the Welsh Marches. Numerous rivers flow through this beautiful region, including the Wye, the Usk and, of course, the Severn. The Lugg stretches from the Welsh county of Powys all the way to a confluence with the Wye in Mordiford, 72km away. Travel to the bank just outside of Bodenham in Herefordshire, and you’ll find a series of sandy beaches and river pools perfectly suited for swimming. You can even take a 2km long swim past the full length of Lugg Meadow.

Kailpot Crag – Lake District
All the lakes dotted around this amazing region are amazing, but Ullswater, the second largest, might be the most stunning. It’s 14.5km long and 1.2km wide, and tends to be one of the most popular lake for tourists. Kailpot Crag is a lesser known haven away from the bustle, nestled in the middle of a thick patch of woodland. The crag itself spills over into the lake, enabling you to simply leap straight into the crystal clear water. A beach runs alongside, so when you’re done it’s easy to get back to shore, and the west-facing aspect makes it an ideal spot to head to just before dusk.

Blue Pool – Gwynedd
Finding your way to the Blue Pool can feel like something of a mystical question. Starting from the nearby town of Fairbourne, you enter a short, dark tunnel which will then lead you to the pool, otherwise known as Golwern Quarry. The water is remarkably clear and decidedly deep, and the rising walls of rock surrounding it give the whole experience a very magical, mythical feel. It’s also within walking distance of Cardigan Bay, one of the most idyllic beaches in Wales.

Lower Glen Etive – Highlands
The River Etive runs past Glen Coe and cuts a deep canyon into the stunning Scottish Highlands. It’s well renowned as a spot for canoeing, but stretches of it also make for some amazing swimming. The lower part of the river dips far deeper into the canyon, with deep, clear water and a sedate current. There are several waterfalls, dive spots and caverns. The only trouble is, as with much of the highlands, you’re going to get bitten to buggery in the summer months unless you slather yourself in insect replant.

The Salmon Leaps – Devon

It’s not often I get to say this, but if you want to find the Salmon Leaps, you must first head for the castle. Beneath Castle Drogo (yep, really, cue your Game of Thrones references)  is a tangle of low-lying woodland, which merges with the River Teign to create a long, shallow river pool, which in turn flows out into several cascade pools. It’s a serene, haunting spot, but there’s a thrilling aspect to it as well, as the cascade pools can get pretty rapid, which is always good fun. This is one of those spots that really has everything, from the beautiful to the tranquil to the exhilarating.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. 

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