Best wild swimming in Dartmoor National Park + map [2023]

Dartmoor National Park is renowned for its beautiful Tors, open moorland, and historic sites, but did you know it is also a great location for wild swimming! Dartmoor wild swimming is one of my favourite outdoor adventures to go on and I’d highly recommend you doing it too.

With a wide variety of secluded spots as well as more popular locations it is the perfect place for a quick dip or refreshing swim in the warmer months.


Notes about wild swimming on Dartmoor: Dartmoor is very much a swim at your own risk location with few facilities or manned areas. Even though Dartmoor is home to several reservoirs -which are easily accessible- it is illegal to swim in the reservoirs. The locations below are also home to a variety of wildlife including leeches which are sometimes visible in the water- this doesn’t mean you cannot swim but is something to be mindful of. Wild swimming Dartmoor is an amazing experience but be safe when doing so.

wild swimming in Dartmoor

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 and 


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

swimming in Lake Windermere

Here are my top 10 outdoor swimming water safety tips

  1. Check the current – if swimming in the sea, ALWAYS check the currents and winds
  2. Gauge the depth – always check the depth of the outdoor water spaces you are swimming
  3. Watch out for reeds in rivers – they can be dangerous if you get stuck
  4. Don’t get too cold – summer is the best time to go wild swimming near me, but if you do go in winter, be prepared
  5. Don’t ever swim alone! – always swim with someone, even if they’re not in the water and on land
  6. Avoid cold water shock – remove damp swimwear quickly and put on dryrobe or towel
  7. Have an escape plan – always know your escape routes in case you get in to trouble
  8. Cover open wounds – if you must swim whilst you have an injury ensure its covered to avoid infection
  9. Don’t go away from the shore – it’s easier for things to go wrong when you are further away
  10. Be careful of children – children can also wild swim, but they must wear a good quality buoyancy aid


Best wild swimming in Dartmoor National Park

These are some of my favourite spots to go wild swimming Dartmoor.

1. Crazy Well Pool

Walk to pool: 40 minutes – 1.2 miles

Where to park: Norsworthy car park

OS Grid reference: SX 5818 7045

Steeped in mystery and intrigue this is one of the larger swimming spots on Dartmoor. The pool itself is thought to be a flooded mine shaft rather than a natural pond and it is surprisingly large, measuring bigger than an Olympic swimming pool. It is the perfect spot for longer swimming.


2. Haytor Quarry

Walk to pool: 15 minutes – 0.5 miles

Where to park: Haytor upper carpark

OS Grid reference: SX 7595 7739

Haytor Quarry is a beautiful spot for a quick dip! Shielded from the wind the quarry has several pools to choose from and is easily accessible with a quick walk from the car park, which also takes you past the famous Haytor Rocks! 

wild swimming in the Lake District

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Have you been to the Lake District? If you want to do some hiking you could also go up highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike.


3. Spitchwick

Walk to pool: 10 minutes – 0.5 miles

Where to park: Newbridge car park TQ13 7NT

OS Grid reference: SX 7149 7134

Located along the river dart Spitchwick is a great area for a quick dip or SUP. The river gently flows around several bends and larger pools here creating lots of spots to choose from for your dip. However, be careful as it can be deceptively cold even in summer!

wild swimming in the Peak District

4. Foggintor Quarry

Walk to pool: 20 minutes- 1 mile

Where to park: Yelverton PL20 6SS- here there is a small carpark

OS gride reference: SX 5666 7357

Foggintor quarry is one of Dartmoor’s best known wild swimming spots, the steep sides to the quarry with the added beauty of Dartmoor make it a great place to swim. The water here gets deep almost immediately once you are in making it a great place for a longer swim.


5. Cadover Bridge

Walk to pool: 7 minutes – 0.3 miles

Where to park: National trust Cadover bridge car park

OS Grid reference: SX 5562 6464

Located on the Upper Plym River both sides of Cadover bridge are good for wild swimming. There is plenty of scenic areas and space to also enjoy a picnic after your paddle. For the best spot travel slightly downstream to North woods where the river pools outwards.


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wild swimming in the Lake District

6. Sharrah Pool

Walk to pool: 40 minutes – 2 miles

Where to park: Newbridge car park TQ13 7NT

OS Grid reference: 69665 71655

Sharrah Pool may just be the most scenic wild swimming spot on Dartmoor! This beautiful pool is surrounded by forest and natural rock formations. The Sharrah Pool is well worth a stop for anyone visiting Dartmoor National Park and I would highly recommend planning a hike in Dartmoor around visiting the Sharrah Pool. 

The gorgeous emerald pool is surrounded by a wall with water cascading through the dense forest. The pool is massive and lots of room for a handful of groups to enjoy this space. You could take a picnic and spend the whole day at Sharrah Pool. 


7. Hexworthy Bridge

Walk to pool: N/A Carpark is next to bridge

Where to park: Small carpark at PL20 6SD

OS Grid reference: SX 6596 7288

This gorgeous spot is perfect for a quick dip! The bridge and several stepping stone areas make for a very scenic swim, which can be quite popular during the tourist season. However, don’t let this deter you as if you go early or late enough in the day you can easily miss out on the crowds and enjoy the area to yourself. This is also a good location for SUP.

wild swimming in the Peak District

8. Chagford Pool

Walk to pool: n/a

Where to park: Chagford TQ13 8AD

Not technically a wild swimming spot, but one for those who want to enjoy an outdoor swim minus the cold and leeches! This outdoor swimming pool is filled with treated water from the local river and the temperature is maintained at a gorgeous 27 degrees. Dating back to 1933, the original pool had a mud basin and fish where a regular sight before filters where introduced!


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


Other things to do in Dartmoor

  • Piggy Cuddles at Pennywell Farm
  • Buckfast Butterfly Farm and Dartmoor Otter Sanctuary
  • Lydford Gorge
  • Buckfast Abbey
  • Canonteign Falls
  • Miniature Pony Centre
  • Burrator Reservoir
  • River Dart Country Park
  • Dartmoor Prison Museum


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.

swimming in Lake Windermere


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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Thank you for reading and as always happy adventuring! If you have any questions about the destination please leave these in the comments below.

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Sophie X

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  • Zoe
    08/15/2023 at 19:06

    I haven’t been wild swimming yet but I’d love to go to the Lake District in winter – I just need to master cold showers first haha!