Are you brave enough to take a dip in one of vast networks of rivers, lakes and canals that flow throughout the English countryside? Here are some of the best places to take part in wild swimming.
The five rivers that flow into the cathedral city of Salisbury provide some excellent spots for wild swimming. Shallow and deep pools, some with small pebble beaches, appear on stretches along the Rivers Nadder, Wylye and Avon. Of particular note is a stretch near the village of Figheldean, north of Amesbury, and the pools at Steeple Langford on the River Wylye closer to Salisbury.
Andark Lake near Southampton is a purpose-built diving lake which is also open to swimmers who are looking to swim in a more supervised environment.
The River Dart, in the Dartmoor National Park in Devon, was the setting for Charles Kingsley’s book, The Water Babies. It boasts sandy bays, steep gorges and deep pools. The best spots are several up the path from Newbridge, near Staverton and the Horseshoe Falls which form a natural whirlpool where there’s a large rock for sunbathing.
The county is covered with secluded coves and Lansallos Cove, near Fowey is a perfect family cove with a wonderful smugglers’ passage hewn from rocks. Polkerris Cove, between St Austell and Fowey, is a great place for a snorkel among the rocks or swim round to one of the sandy inlets just along the coast.
Frensham Great Pond near Farnham on the Surrey/Hampshire border has natural beaches marked out for swimming. There is parking, a cafe and even a small museum nearby—watch out as it gets very popular on busy summer days.
The River Thames as it runs through Pangbourne, in Berkshire, is set against an attractive backdrop of the Chiltern Hills. Dotted along this stretch are little chalk beaches. Another area to look at is just outside the market town of Hungerford, where there’s a popular swimming and paddling spot on the River Avon.
Lying just north of Charleston (home to the Bloomsbury Group’s country house), the open fields of Barcombe Mills has a stretch of 5km which enjoys deep pools with pretty grassy banks. You can hire a rowing boat from the nearby pub, too.
Houses for sale near wild swimming spots
This five-bedroom house already comes with an outdoor swimming pool which enjoys pretty rural views over the surrounding fields but is also a short distance from Frensham Great Pond. On the market with Winkworth Farnham for £1.85m
A substantial house with five bedrooms which is set on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park which offers lots of lovely spots for wild swimming. The house has a mature, south-facing garden. On the market with Winkworth Dartmouth £695,000
This Grade II* three-bedroom house has been thoroughly renovated by the current owners who have installed a new Mark Wilkinson kitchen and is set within the grounds of Calcot Golf Course, not far from the River Thames at Pangbourne. On the market with Winkworth Reading for £750,000
This characterful five-bedroom house boasts fantastic views across the Sussex countryside and the South Downs National Park, not far from Barcombe Mills. It’s on the market for £1.35m through Winkworth Lewes.