Wild swimming and London are not usually two phrases you hear together BUT did you know there are actually plenty of places to go wild swimming near London for those looking for adventure with their morning swim?
Today, I go through some of the best locations as well as how to get there!
A few notes on swimming in London: Wild swimming has become ever more popular in the last few years but it’s important to remember the dangers particularly if you are more use to taking a dip in the local pool. Always ensure you tell someone of your location and expected timings before you leave, be wary of potential hazards and cold water shock. Lots of ‘wild’ swimming spots in London are now managed and only open at certain times with entrance fees. Don’t let this put you off, just be sure to check the timings before you leave!
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 near London
1. London Royal Docks
How to get there: Closest station is Royal Victoria on the DLR Line and then it’s just a few minutes’ walk to the pontoon opposite the city hall building.
Swimming in the Royal Docks offers a truly unique city style wild swim. The area has been purposefully created for wild swimming and is manned by a lifeguard all year. You will need to become a member and complete a cold water swim induction, but this is an easy process with Love Open Water.
2. Albany Reach, Hampton
How to get there: From Waterloo Station take the train to Thames Ditton and then walk the 0.5 miles to Albany Reach Park.
If you want to swim in London’s most famous river now is your chance! Albany Reach and Palace Beach (just a small walk upstream) offer the perfect opportunity to have a dip in the river Thames! With a view over Hampton court palace gardens and plenty of space on the river bank to have a picnic Albany reach is perfect for an afternoon swim!
3. Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park
How to get there: Head to the centre of Hyde Park and look out for the signs pointing to the Serpentine Lido and the Lido Café Bar
Serpentine Lido is home to Britain’s oldest Swimming club and is considered one of London’s most iconic swimming spots. Situated in Hyde Park right next to the Lido Café Bar this friendly swimming spot is perfect for everyone.
Other recommended blog posts
- 48 best wild swimming near me + map
- Best wild swimming in the Peak District
- Best wild swimming in Dartmoor National Park
- Best wild swimming near London
- Best wild swimming spots in Wales
- Best wild swimming in the Lake District
- Best wild swimming spots in The Yorkshire Dales
4. Diver’s Cove, Surrey
How to get there: Follow the A25 towards Godstone Surrey before taking North Park Lane RH9 8ND. There is plenty of parking onsite.
Diver’s cove was originally used as a site for sand extraction however, it is now home to a truly beautiful wild swimming experience. The lake itself is surrounded by trees and with crystal clear water and a sandy bottom this may be the perfect wild swimming spot! The lake also has several other amenities to enjoy before or after your dip, including offering artisan pizzas, and saunas to hire.
5. Beckenham Palace Park, Lewisham
How to get there: Closest station is Beckenham Hill Station less than 5 minutes’ walk from the main entrance. If you are driving, you can park in the main carpark on Beckenham Hill Road. There is also the option of getting the 54 bus which stops outside two of the main park gates.
Beckenham Palace Park is home to London’s first ever purpose built swimming lake which spans over 280 metres and has depths up to 3.5 metres making it the perfect swimming spot for those looking for a longer swim.
6. Hampstead Heath
How to get there: You can take the overground to Hampstead Heath station or the Northern Line to Hampstead which is then a 10 minute walk away.
There are two swimming ponds to enjoy at Hampstead Heath, The Mixed Pond- the only swimming pond on the Hampstead side of the Heath and then there is The Ladies’ and Men’s Pond- both on the Highgate side. The ponds themselves are on the ‘wild’ side of wild swimming for London, with mud, cold temperatures, and the occasional duck!
7. West Reservoir Centre, Hackney
How to get there: The closest overground station is Finsbury Park, or you can take the Piccadilly line and get off at Manor House, which is a short walk away.
Nestled in North London between Manor House and Stoke Newington you can find the West reservoir centre part of Woodberry wetlands and spanning an impressive 23 acres. This little pocket of nature is perfect for a wild swim! With plenty of space to swim as little or as long as you like!
Other recommended blog posts
- Guide to a weekend break in York
- TRAVEL GUIDE: 3 days in Budapest
- 10 best walks near London
- 48 hours in Amsterdam
- Best restaurant in Marrakech
- Surfing in Sagres
- Glamping Ireland: Top 17 unique stays on Airbnb
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8. Walpole Bay Tidal Pool
How to get there: Take the High speed train from St Pancreas to Margate or alternatively you can drive and take the M20 or M2 motorways from London.
Walpole Bay tidal pool offers the perfect opportunity to swim in the sea without the risk of waves hitting you! This tidal pool covers an impressive 4 acres and can reach depths of 6 foot. It is believed to be the biggest tidal pool in the UK, meaning there is plenty of space for everyone to have a swim!
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.
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
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