A dozen beautiful lakes and ponds where you can swim without fear, and go nudie without shame.
Argyle and Bute
West coast of Loch Lomond
There’s a broad sandy beach on this gorgeous loch, and it’s a popular barbecue spot.
Swimmers Quarry (the L-shaped one)
With its little beach and the blue water just next to the sea, this is a very unusual scene. Look down on the murky sea as you enjoy deep Med-blue water.
Dornoch Bay, Loch Eck
A sublime sandy beach at the side of a promontory. Few lochs offer sandy beaches and shallow entry – this one does.
This former quarry acts as a garden in the middle of the Bristol; the banks are brimming with water lilies, and herons often swoop by for a visit. There is a diving area with two springboards and two fixed diving boards. The only drawback is that you must be a member, so you’ll have to join (or find a friend who already has and blag your way in).
An ice-age lake in the heart of busy England. Walk out from sandy beach besides the reeds to enjoy the age-old tranquility.
Three miles north of Betws-y-Coed
Glorious high lake with a sandy beach on the south shore.
Westshore, Lake Windermere
A small unintimidating lake with accessible shoreline for wild swimmers. Motorboat free, so very safe.
The most majestic and wild of all the Cumbrian lakes: 284m deep, three miles long and with the scree slope of Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain plunging into the depths. Head further out for 360-degree views of the mountains.
Keynes country park
Somerford Keynes, Cotswold Water Park
This luscious shingle bay in a lake. Keynes is very popular and very busy because there is no competition for 50 miles. Despite the throngs of swimmers who descend on this spot, it is well worth a visit. Other perks include the graded depth, which makes for safe and pleasant swimming, and the fact that it is treated for blue green algae. Parking charges apply.
A deep glacial pool in the shadow of Glyder Fawr that is surrounded on three sides by huge mountain faces.
Lyd Padarn, Llanberis
A cluster of little coves on the south side of Llanberis with walk-in entry (access these from the A4086). The majestic Snowdon Mountain Railway passes by frequently on the far side of the shore, and what a sight it is.
Dawes, South Inverness
Nicely graded walk-in entry in a lovely location. The only thing that may keep wild swimmers away is the steep, shingly beach.
The ladies’ pond, Hampstead Heath
This is the most attractive of the three ponds at Hampstead, with a grassy area that is perfect for sunbathing.
The men’s pond, Hampstead Heath
The ponds at Hampstead are a fantastic London institution with a lot of same-sex socialising. Sunbathing (robed and disrobed) is allowed in the fenced area, but this space has no views of the pond itself. Because the water is so deep, this pond is perfect for showing off your diving prowess. On warm days, you can spot lots of hardy boys bouncing off the springboard as you stroll past outside.
The Serpentine, Hyde Park
The Serpentine lake (as opposed to the Serpentine lido) has a walk-in entry and the beautiful, leafy surroundings of SW3’s Hyde Park, but sadly the concrete slab that stands as an alternative to a beach leaves a lot to be desired.
On the B4313, 10 miles south east of Fishguard
Walk up behind the row of cottages and drink in the splendour of nature’s re-conquest of this beautifully overgrown old slate quarry. Wortleberries, ferns and cotoneaster romp over the spoil heaps of slate. Just one quarry holds water; discover it behind a large rock. It’s a fantastic place to swim, with clear, mirror-still water, but it is bitingly cold. It may be best to take your trusty wet suit and a flask of hot tea along with you.
This sandy bay is at the edge of a wood. It is not uncommon to find some strewn debris along the Mere’s edge, so be sure to don footwear. The key benefits of this site are the complete lack of boats or fishermen and the pleasantfresh water.
Despite being restricted by sailing and fishing and the algae problem (Frencham is untreated for blue-green algae), this spot is safe, with shallow waters and surrounded by super sand.
A disused reservoir with a sandy beach, Gaddings sits on a remote hilltop. It is a reservoir, but one that was built for an industrial purpose that never came to fruition, which is why it remains unused in this unique location.
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