Best wild swimming in the Lake District + map [2023]

Considered one of the best locations in the world for wild swimming The Lake District offers amble opportunities no matter what stage of wild swimming you are comfortable with. The beautiful landscape and waterfalls available offer a truly immersive wild swimming Lake District experience. In fact my favourite spot is to go swimming in Lake Windermere!


Notes on swimming in The Lake District: Although the Lake District offers many large bodies of water for wild swimming its important you recognise your own limits as wild swimming can be more tiring than normal swimming so stick close to the shoreline and implement personal safety measures. Lake District swimming must be done with preparation in mind as some of these bodies of water are vast.

It is also important to note that some of the Lakes can be prone to blue-green algae blooms which can cause sickness, so take note of local signage and I recommend googling the location before swimming to check any local news reports. Wild swimming is allowed in the majority of lakes however there are a few notable exceptions: Ennerdale Water, Haweswater, and Thirlmere.

wild swimming in the Lake District

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

wild swimming in the Peak District

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

wild swimming in the Lake District

10 Best Lake District waterfalls

  1. Aira Force Waterfall
  2. Stock Ghyll Force
  3. Stanley Ghyll Force Waterfall
  4. Lodore Falls
  5. Skelwith Force Waterfall
  6. Rutter Force
  7. Scale Force
  8. Moss Force Waterfall
  9. Garrigill Ashgill Force
  10. Sourmilk Gyll


Best wild swimming in the Lake District

Lake District swimming is one of my favourite places to partake in this outdoor activity and I love heading to the Lake District for a weekend of adventure. Keep reading for a round up of my favourite wild swimming Lake District spots. If you want to do some hiking you could also go up highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike.

1. Rydal Water

Walk to pool: 10 minutes – 1 mile

Where to park: White Moss car park LA22 9SE

OS Grid reference: NY 3512 0638

One of the most accessible wild swimming spots, Rydal water is the perfect place for a calm early morning swim. The lake here is sheltered on all sides by the mountains and surrounded by open woodlands, which means it tends to stay calm and slightly warmer than more exposed locations.


2. Tongue Pot, Upper Eskdale

Walk to pool: 50 minutes – 2 mile

Where to park: Car Park next to Cattle grid (OS Grid ref: NY 21334 01140)

OS Grid reference: NY 22714 03516

One of the most accessible wild swimming spots, Rydal water is the perfect place for a calm early morning swim. The lake here is sheltered on all sides by the mountains and surrounded by open woodlands, which means it tends to stay calm and slightly warmer than more exposed swimming spots.


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swimming in Lake Windermere

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3. Buttermere infinity pools

Walk to pool: 30 minutes – 2 mile

Where to park: Car Park next to Gatesgarth Farm, postcode CA13 9XA.

OS Grid reference: NY 20040 13596

Buttermere infinity pool is one of the most Instagram worthy swimming spots The Lake District has to offer, having risen to fame over on social media it is now a well loved wild swimming location, but if you are prepared for a little more walking you can easily find several pools slightly higher up, where you can enjoy the scenery to your hearts content. As the pools are not sign posted you will need to use your map skills to find these secluded spots, but it will be well worth it! Another of my favourite wild swimming Lake District spots!

wild swimming in the Peak District

4. Lake Windermere

Walk to pool: 30 minutes – 2 mile

Where to park: Two car parks in Ambleside LA22 0ES

OS Grid reference: NY 3747 0327

No wild swimming trip to The Lake District would be complete without swimming in Lake Windermere! Officially classed as England’s largest body of water there is some debate if Windermere should even be classed as a lake. A great place to test the waters of Windermere is Borran’s park (where the above car park, and grid reference will take you) but other spots include Fell foot, Miller Ground, Low Wray, and Harrow slack.

Make sure you add swimming in Lake Windermere to your bucket list!


5. Coniston Water

Walk to pool: 15 minutes- 0.6 miles

Where to park: Park at Coniston Hall LA21 8AS

OS Grid reference: SD 3035 9652

Coniston water is the perfect starting place for those new to wild swimming, it is a slightly quieter spot, with beautiful and easily accessible starting points.

wild swimming in Dartmoor

Other things to do in the Lake District

  • Lake Windermere
  • Alpacaly Ever After
  • Aira Force Waterfall
  • Derwentwater
  • The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction
  • Mountain hiking in the Lake District
  • Muncaster Castle
  • Orrest Head
  • Buttermere Lake
  • The Lakes Distillery
  • Lowther Castle and Gardens


6. Black Moss Pot

Walk to pool: 1 hour – 1.8 miles

Where to park: Village of Stonewaithe

OS Grid reference: NY 2671 1128

For those just looking for a quick dip or dive Black moss pot is the perfect place, this dramatic gorge pool has a thin corridor between two rocky walls making it a fun channel to swim through. There is also some perfect vertical rocks for leaping off into the cool water- but also be careful and check the water depth first!


7. Ullswater

Walk to pool: Car park is next to lake access

Where to park: Glencoyne Bay car park CA11 0NQ (It’s National Trust)

OS Grid reference: Access is directly opposite car park

Ullswater is the perfect swimming spot for those looking for an easy access swim, the gentle sloping beach and grassy banks in this area make it great for getting right in! There are also numerous spots around the lake for facilities. I do recommend you wear something brightly coloured when taking a dip here as its also popular for boats and other water activities.

swimming in Lake Windermere

8. Wastwater

Walk to pool: Carpark is next to lake access

Where to park: Roadside parking spots next to the lake follow Seascale CA20 1EU

OS Grid reference: NY 15148 05396

If you want to swim in some dramatic scenery you have come to the right place! Wastwater is The Lake District’s deepest lake surrounded by vast mountains a swim here is not to be missed! 


Which of these wild swimming Lake District spots 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.

wild swimming in Dartmoor


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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