Best wild swimming in Scotland+ map [2023]

Looking for the best wild swimming spots in Scotland? Look no further!

Scotland offers some of the best wild swimming spots in the UK! Bordering right into the North Sea and the Atlantic, along with the huge variety of different lochs and tarns to choose from, it doesn’t get much wilder than Scotland! Just be sure to prepare your hot chocolate and dry robe for after your dip as you are sure to need warming up! Check out eight of my favourite wild swimming spots in Scotland below!

A few notes on swimming in Scotland: It’s important to stay safe when wild swimming and the waters in Scotland can get VERY cold, so be aware of cold water shock, don’t go out of your depth and be careful swimming in unmanned areas! Its important to also keep away from any frozen areas and check for any local signage pointing to hazards.


What is wild swimming?

Wild swimming is essentially swimming outdoors in natural spaces, such as rivers, lakes or the sea. Over the past few years, there has been a big rise in wild swimming across the country which has been put down to people seeking alternative exercise regimes, wanting to immerse themselves in the great outdoors.


Is Wild swimming safe?

Wild swimming is safe, but only if you follow guidelines, know your own ability and follow proper safety measures. Swimming, in general, is a fun activity which can be enjoyed by everyone, but outdoor swimming does have its dangers.

Over the past decade, the rivers in the UK have become cleaner than they’ve ever been due to the fantastic work agencies like The River Trust, and The Environmental Agency. It is a great time to embrace wild water swimming!

“92.4% of our bathing waters were at Good or Excellent status in 2018.  In 1995 over half would have failed.” – The Environmental Agency


Best wild swimming spots in Scotland

1. Portobello Beach, Edinburgh

Walk to pool: 5 minutes- 0.1 miles
Where to park: Bridge Street Car park, EH15 1DD
OS Grid reference: NT3049 7429

The perfect place to enjoy a dip in the cold waters around Scotland, Portobello beach offers easy access and a beautiful sandy beach to relax on after your dip! With plenty of amenities in the surrounding area this is a great spot for an easy, yet gorgeous swim.

Photo credit: Visit Scotland

2. Luss, Loch Lomond

Walk to pool: 5 minutes- 0.1 miles
Where to park: Old toll house car park, G83 8PG
OS Grid reference: NS 36038 93165

Loch Lomond is one of Scotland’s most iconic wild swimming locations! But with so many area around the Loch- how do you choose a starting point? Well, the small village of Luss is the perfect place for easy access to the Loch, a beautiful little beach, and a good selection of cafes for a post swim snack!


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Photo credit: Britain Express

3. Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye

Walk to pool: 25 minutes- 1 miles
Where to park: Carpark Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye IV47 8TA
OS Grid reference: NG 43225 25754

Maybe one of the UK’s most beautiful wild swimming spots the Fairy Pools, on the Isle of Skye offer a truly beautiful swim. The crystal clear water and surrounding landscape provide a great backdrop, provided you wrap up warm enough! A wetsuit is advisable here as even in the summer months the waters maintain a chilly temperature!


4. River Tay, Perthshire

Walk to pool: Next to parking
Where to park: Park at Willowgate Activity Centre PH2 7JU
OS Grid reference: NO 13694 21786

One of the best places to learn how to wild swim in Scotland, is on the River Tay; Scotland’s longest river. There are lots of spots to choose from for swimming along the river but if you are looking for something a little bit more structured, I recommend checking out the Willowgate Activity centre, that offers open water sessions and courses to help get you started!

Wild swimming in Scotland

5. Falls of Falloch, Stirling

Walk to pool: Next to parking
Where to park: Park at Falls of Falloch carpark just off the A82, FK20 8RL
OS Grid reference: NN 33491 20784

Voted one of the most scenic places for wild swimming in the UK, the falls of Falloch are not to be missed! This breathtaking waterfall and pool is perfect for a refreshing dip!


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Wild swimming in Scotland

6. Loch Morlich, Cairngorms

Walk to pool: 5 minutes – 0.2 miles
Where to park: Glenmore Forest carpark PH22 1QU
OS Grid reference: NH 97135 09796

A great location for first time wild swimmers or those looking for an easy access swim, Loch Morlich is relatively shallow all the way around! There is also a great little café, bar, and water sports centre right next door. If you’ve had enough of swimming, you can choose to canoe or kayak instead!


7. Rosemarkie Beach, Fortrose

Walk to pool: Next to carpark
Where to park: Mill Rd, Rosemarkie, Fortrose IV10 8UN
OS Grid reference: NH73795774

Another great salt water wild swim in Scotland is at Rosemarkie beach! This beautiful sandy stretch of coastline is perfect for a swim at the seaside, and if you want to spice up your swim slightly Rosemarkie is also one of the best snorkelling locations!

Wild swimming in Scotland

8. River Etive, Glencoe

Walk to pool: 20 minutes- 1 mile
Where to park: Follow the road to a small carpark, Ballachulish PH49 4JA
OS Grid reference: NN 19853 51304

One for the James Bond fans this swimming spot is located along the James Bond Road featured in Skyfall. Here you can enjoy glorious views of the Highlands whilst taking a dip in an iconic spot!


Which of these wild swimming spots in Scotland will you be heading to?


Other wild swimming spots in the UK

9. Burton Bradstock, Dorset

10. Llyn Cau, Snowdonia

11. Waveney River, Suffolk

12. Willen Lake, Milton Keynes

13. Tellisford, Somerset

14. Derwentwater, Keswick

15. Mermaid’s Pool, Derbyshire

16. Clevedon Marine Lake, Bristol

17. Port Meadow, Oxford

18. Pedn Vounder, Treen, West Cornwall

19. Dundas Aquaduct, Bath

20. Rydal Water, Lake District

21. Bicester Performance Lake

22. West Lydford, Somerset

23. Black Moss Pot (Langstrath)

24. Marsh Lock, Henley

25. Buttermere, Lake District


And remember if you are near the sea, you don’t need rivers and lakes and instead can do wild swimming in the ocean. You could team a swim up with coastal walks near me and spend the day by the coast.


It really is worth joining the Outdoor Swimming Society as they have 25,000 members and it’s the biggest wild swimming group in the UK and it’s free to join. 


Check out some of these books on wild swimming too, if you want to learn even more. 

  • We like Wild Swim, by Kate Rew
  • Wild Swimming by Daniel Start
  • Wild Swimming: Hidden Beaches by Daniel Start
  • Wild Swimming Walks (Dartmoor and South Devon) by Sophie Pierce and Matt Newbury
  • Wild Swimming Walks (London) by Margaret Dickinson


If you on a bigger trip exploring more of Europe check out my guides to FranceGermany, Greece, IcelandItalyPortugalSpain and United Kingdom.


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