Birkdale House

Wild Swimming in the Lake District

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Birkdale House

16th May 2024

With the Great North Swim in Lake Windermere just a couple of weeks away, it got us thinking about all the incredible wild swimming spots in the Lake District. While thousands will take to the waters of Windermere for this iconic outdoor swimming event, there are so many other amazing places which are perfect for a refreshing dip. So, if you’ve never been wild swimming in the Lake District, perhaps it’s time to give it a go.

Wild swimming and cold water immersion have certainly attracted more media attention over the last few years, and with good reason. Among the health benefits are improved circulation; a boost to your brain power; a boost to your immune system; reduced anxiety and stress; increased alertness; feelings of euphoria and achievement; and if you’re swimming with others, a sense of community.

But where can we go wild swimming in the Lake District? There are some amazing places, such as the legendary Tongue Pot in Eskdale, or Galleny Force in the heart of beautiful Borrowdale. But we’ll try to keep our choices a little more local, although we have included Wastwater because, well, you have to. Read on for a few of our favourite spots.

Coniston Water

We’ll start with Coniston Water. Surrounded on all sides by stunning scenery, Coniston Water is often less busy than some of the other major lakes and has plenty of small bays and beaches, making it a great option for wild swimming. The eastern shore in particular has a number of parking spots and shallow water, perfect for those who are new to wild swimming.

Loughrigg Tarn

Loughrigg Tarn is considered by many as one of the best places to swim in the Lake District. With the Langdale Pikes as a backdrop, it’s easy to see why. With no rivers feeding directly into it, the waters are relatively warm, making it the perfect spot to cool down after a hard day’s walking.

Rydal Water

Sheltered on all sides by Lake District fells, Rydal Water is often a little stiller than other wild swimming spots. It’s also a touch warmer thanks to its lower altitude. This is a great place to swim for novices – the shallow beach is on the far side of the water from the road, about a twenty minute walk, so despite the lakes proximity to the road, swimming here still feels like you’re slightly off the beaten track.

Blea Tarn

When it comes to picturesque spots for wild swimming, Blea Tarn more than holds its own. The Langdale Pikes frame the horizon, perfectly reflected in the cool, still water. This is without doubt one of the best views in the Lake District, and with a stony beach on the southern shore, it’s perfect for wild swimming.

Ullswater

A relatively short car journey over the Kirkstone Pass brings you to Glenridding at the southern end of Ullswater. Here, gently sloping beaches allow safe access to the water – perfect for families. It’s hardly secluded, but with large grassy banks and all the facilities of Glenridding, you’ll find a spot you can call your own and enjoy a fabulous day out.

Wastwater

Our final destination is Wastwater,

England’s deepest lake and arguably one of the most dramatic sights in the Lake District. Meaning it has to be included on any wild swimming list. On the eastern shore, the screes tumble down towards the deep, dark water and to the north some of the highest mountains in England, including Scafell Pike, Great Gable and Lingmell. This is wild swimming with added exhilaration. Several small beaches lie just off the road on the western shore, providing easy access to the water. So find somewhere to park and head for the lake. And be prepared to feel a little chilly.

So, whether you’re in the area for the Great North Swim or just looking to find your own wild swimming spot away from the crowds, the Lake District really does deliver some of the most incredible places for an invigorating dip.

In the meantime, next time you’re visiting, why not dig out your swimming gear and take a dip? But do be careful. Below is a list of wild swimming tips.

  • Check the weather: conditions can change rapidly in the Lake District, so ensure you check the forecast and avoid swimming in adverse weather.
  • Acclimatise gradually: the lakes can be cold, even in summer. Enter the water slowly to allow your body to adjust to the temperature.
  • Swim with a friend: it’s always safer and more enjoyable to swim with a friend.
  • Be visible: a brightly coloured hat or tow float would be ideal
  • Respect nature: leave no trace and be mindful of the local wildlife and environment.

If you would like any further information about wild swimming in the beautiful Lake District, please do get in touch