Best places for a wild swim in the Lakes

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Summer is definitely here, and – we hope – here to stay.

We all love a walk, but can there be anything better than after a few miles underfoot, when you’re hot and bothered, taking a plunge in a river, having a wild swim in a lake or a tarn, and generally messing about in water!

Before you take the plunge make sure you’re safe:  the SwimSafe code is all about Be Seen  Swimmers may be able to see boaters but boaters may not be able to see swimmers!

  • Have a safety boat or canoe support displaying a white and blue Alpha flag .
  • Wear a bright swim cap and tow a bright float.
  • Grab a pair of swimming shoes – around a fiver from lots of outdoor shops – they’ll help you to deal with slippy rocks and shale underfoot and make it a more pleasant experience getting in the water.
  • Never swim alone. It’s more fun with a friend too.

There are many places in the Lake District to do this, here are a few ideas:

Quieter lakes best for swimming

  • Bassenthwaite – but no diving allowed
  • Buttermere
  • Crummock Water
  • Grasmere
  • Loweswater
  • Rydal Water
  • Wast Water

Busier lakes

Anyone can swim in these lakes but there are more boats:

  • Coniston Water
  • Derwentwater
  • Ullswater
  • Windermere (please note swimming is not allowed from White Cross Bay as it is a busy marina area. Head to Millerground a few minutes away)

Swimming is not allowed in Ennerdale Water, Haweswater and Thirlmere.

For more details check out the Lake District National Park Authorities: Access to Lakes (PDF)

Other ideas:

Loughrigg Tarn – peaceful and small with easy access.

High Dam, Lakeside: Lovely walk through the woods and quiet swimming.

Holme Fell Lake, Coniston – about a 15 minute walk from Hodge Close Quarry.

Rydal Water – park at White Moss Common, and a short walk in with easy access.

Elterwater – combine a river and a tarn swim, where Langdale Beck becomes the Brathay – easy access and a nice walk too.

Blea Tarn – high in the Langdales – and the one that features on the opening credits for Countryfile – see if you can spot it!

Enjoy your wild swim, but do keep safe and sound!  Check out safety tips here.