I have made it my life's work to find the most perfect lakes for swimming – and Britain is blessed with secluded and refreshing waters that demand pleasure.
From classics from the Lake District to distant Welsh wonders and holes in the wildest places in Scotland, these are our largest lakes for swimming. And you can take a really refreshing break by checking in at one of the many beautiful places nearby.
A LAKELAND DIP and a beach high above sea level in England
Blea Tarn, Lake District
Blea Tarn, south of Langdale, is perfect for a typical Lakeland dip. With easy parking nearby, you don't have to moan about the falls for hours to find this watery solution
Easy access: A swimmer on the jetty that leads from another location directly to Ullswater
The Lake District is a big draw for outdoor swimmers. And while the larger lakes are beautiful, you can also swim in the smaller waters. Blea Tarn, south of Langdale, is perfect for a typical Lakeland dip. With easy parking nearby, you don't have to moan about the falls for hours to find this watery solution. The road from the road to the water is wide, with a few rocky beaches on the south bank that offer incredible views of Langdale Pikes across the water. Make sure to take a waterproof camera with you to capture the frog's perspective.
How to get there: Blea Tarn is seven miles west of Ambleside. Take the A593 through the village of Skelwith Bridge, then turn right and follow signs for The Langdales. The camo will appear to your left.
Stay: Another Place, a luxury eatery on the shores of Ullswater, B&B from £ 270 a night, another place.
Gaddings Dam, Yorkshire
High in the bogs between Todmorden and Walsden and at 760 feet above sea level, Gaddings Dam is Britain's highest beach. This windswept dam was first built in 1833 and has long been a swimming hole loved by locals. Because of its remote location at the top of a steep path, it is not that easy to get to. But that has the added benefit that the beach is often calm unless the mercury really rises.
For a wild bath in a very special place, swimmers of all types flock here, from training for channel swimming to wool hat wearers.
How to get there: Park at the Shepherd & # 39; s Rest Inn in Lumbutts and walk up the steep path to the dam and the beach in the northeast corner.
Stay: The Old Registry Guest House, a historic Haworth restaurant with rooms in Bronte Country, B&B from £ 80 a night, theoldregistry.co.uk.
Sparth Reservoir, Yorkshire
Local enthusiasts ensured that the Sparth Reservoir directly on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal was saved after a six-year campaign to swim.
For decades, it was a popular place for those who lived in nearby Marsden and Slaithwaite. It is now just as popular as two beaches allow easy access.
You can swim in the shade of stunning trees and 19th century industrial history, but it's best enjoyed by experienced swimmers and should only be tried in a group or with friends on the shore. Handy signs explain what to look out for.
How to get there: The reservoir is a 20-minute walk east along the canal from the center of historic Marsden, where there is ample parking.
Stay: The Shibden Mill Inn, a comfortable 17th century hostel with a modern British restaurant, B&B from £ 95 a night, sawdays.co.uk.
Lake Wood, Uckfield, East Sussex
Tucked away from the main road outside of Uckfield, this little gem is surrounded by beautiful deciduous forests, with shady shores and a series of cliffs that offer unrestricted views over the water. There are easy entry points along the north coast or follow the path to the cavernous boathouse and slip into the cool water there. This practical hideaway is the ideal place for a nap after a swim and a picnic when the heat rises.
Lake Wood is on the north side of Rocks Road, which runs west of Uckfield. Look for a few parking spaces at a field gate on the right.
Stay: Swanborough Lakes Lodges, elegant, modern log cabins in the heart of the Downs, from £ 575 a week. swanboroughlakes.co.uk.
Beckenham Place Park, London
Elegant: The large dining room in the family-run Manor in Bickley
London's newest bathing lake offers the perfect introduction to wild swimming. The initial popularity, which opened in July 2019, meant that two-hour slots and anyone who stepped into the water were asked to wear a towed swimmer provided by the on-site staff. It costs £ 3 for adults and £ 2 for children (card only).
Swimmers must be over eight years old and be able to swim 25 meters. This is a safe and nice place to fall in love with swimming outdoors – and a vision of how wild swimming could take over all of our parks and open spaces.
How to get there: A 15-minute walk through the park from Ravensbourne train station in the Bromley district of south London.
Stay: The Manor at Bickley, 19th century, family owned mansion, B&B from £ 150 a night. themanoratbickley.co.uk.
TUMBLING FALLS AND WILDERNESS IN WALES
Llyn Cwm Bychan, Wales
Llyn Cwm Bychan offers a secluded and wild lake amid some of the most overlooked mountains in Wales
Sea swimming is not much more remote and wild. Llyn Cwm Bychan is at the end of a narrow path that winds up from Harlech to experience some of the most overlooked mountains in Wales.
In the heart of the Rhynogydd Mountains, south of Snowdonia, the water here plunges straight from the hills, making it crystal clear and extremely fresh. The easiest way is to get in at the far eastern end, where grass cut by sheep slides into the shallows that extend far into the lake. That means safer swimming and the opportunity to get up and enjoy the view.
How to get there: Llyn Cwm Bychan is five and a half miles from Harlech. Follow the hill from the city center up Pen Dref and turn left at the T-junction. Follow the road to the lake.
Stay: Maelgwyn House, an Edwardian jewel, B&B that also serves as the gallery of the artist's owner. From £ 90 a night, maelgwynharlech.co.uk.
Sgwd Gwaldys / Lady Falls, Brecon Beacons, Wales
The sound of the water and the incessant chirping of birds make Lady Falls in the Brecon Beacons a wonderful place for a wild bath
This wide plunge pool is fed by a 32 foot waterfall on the Fechan River. The shallows slide gently into the deeper water behind the falls, and trees rise on the surrounding cliffs.
The sound of the water and the chirping of birds make this a wonderful place for a wild bath. After a refreshing dip, dry yourself on the shore with a picnic and a bottle of sweet coffee. This is the ideal way to warm your bones and feel a wave of endorphins.
How to get there: Sgwd Gwaldys / Lady Falls is a 25-minute walk north of Glynneath village, where parking is easier than on the main road that surrounds the river.
Stay: Grange Guest House, a charming B&B in a historic location on the outskirts of Brecon, B&B from £ 80 a night, thegrange-brecon.co.uk.
A FLOATING CASTLE AND SUNSHINE IN SCOTLAND
Loch an Eilein, Cairngorms, Scotland
Inselburg: Swimmers can reach the ruins from the 14th century in Loch an Eilein in the Cairngorms
This little hole with spectacular views of the Cairngorms and the ruins of a 14th century castle on a tiny island offers some of Scotland's best freshwater baths. A small beach at the northern end provides easy access to the water, which cools down even in midsummer.
Those who prefer a short swim can wallow in the shallow water, while more confident swimmers can go to the island in the open water and see the castle up close. Loch an Eilein is located in the beautiful Rothiemurchus Forest, just eight kilometers from Aviemore, and is home to rare red squirrels and wild ravens, which are best seen early in the morning on the trail on the shore.
How to get there: Take Grampian Road south of Aviemore through the village of Rothiemurchus before turning left and following the signs to the Loch an Eilein car park.
Stay: Beaver Creek Lodge, a pampered log cabin with sauna, from £ 252.50 a night, greatnorthlodges.co.uk.
Loch Ard, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park
Loch Ard is described by Sir Walter Scott as an "enchanting expanse of water" and is now an extremely popular destination for wild swimmers
The panoramic view of this beautiful lake, the source of the Forth River, lies in the middle of the breathtaking Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
Called "enchanting water surface" by Sir Walter Scott, it is now an extremely popular destination for wild swimmers. It's shallower than larger holes, which means it's not that cold and the visibility closer to the banks is excellent. The best entry points can be found along the B849, which runs along the north side of the hole, although the hiking trails along the south bank also offer plenty of places to slide. Swimming at sunset is particularly special here.
How to get there: Loch Ard is a 10 minute drive west of Aberfoyle on the B849 and offers parking.
Stay: The Tree Houses In Lanrick, brand new luxury forest huts, from £ 200 a night, lanricktreehouses.co.uk.
- Remember, never go swimming alone in the lake, take the time to check conditions to ensure that swimming is safe, and wear protective gear such as neoprene shoes. A wetsuit can also be advisable.
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