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5 Amazing Wild Swim Spots in The Lake District

The Lake District is well known for its amazing scenery, quaint towns and villages and spectacular walking. However, if wild swimming is your thing or you fancy giving it a go then there is no better place to start than the Lake District (I think so anyway!) I cannot wait to spend this summer getting into some amazing wild swim spots in the Lake District. Here’s my top five;

By Alice Phillips– 28th January 2021
Amazing Wild Swim Spots in The Lake District

Black Moss Pot, Stonethwaite

About a 30-40 minute walk from Sonethwaite, in the Borrowdale Valley, is one of the most spectacular swim spots that the Lake District has to offer. This is a super fun and magnificent stretch of water. The water is cold and fresh and there’s even places where it’s deep enough to jump in, for those that are brave enough. You can swim upstream into the main pool and then let the flow of the river take you back down, truly magical! 

Further Downstream, back towards the village, is Galleny Force where you are in the depths of what looks like a fairy glen. Beautiful blue-green water and stunning waterfalls make the perfect setting for a family day out with plenty of rocks to sit on and enjoy the Lake District Summer.

River Esk, Eskdale 

The Eskdale Valley is one of the less visited spots in the Lake District and more of a hidden gem than some of the more central swimming spots. Along the River Esk there are places to dip all the way up the valley with dramatic scenery between the mountains and then further down the river, under the trees, it becomes more of exploration of the paths around the village and along the river.

You can even get into the valley by train on the charming Ravenglass & Eskdale Steam Railway unless you fancy the exhilarating drive over Wrynose and Hardknott Pass, not for the faint of heart!

Buttermere, Buttermere Valley

Buttermere is a perfect, idyllic setting for spending a day exploring, walking and somewhere that I love to swim. The water is crystal clear and you can admire the dramatic scenery of the surrounding mountains, Fleetwith Pike, Haystacks – where Alfred Wainwright’s ashes are scattered – Red Pike and Robinson.

For lunch definitely head to Sykes Farm. Their range of delicious cakes and lunch menu to eat in or takeaway. If it’s a hot day then grab an ice cream too! This is one of my favourite spots for an amazing wild swim in The Lake District.

Stickle Tarn, The Langdales

Mountain Tarns don’t come much more impressive than this. Set in the shadow of Pavey Ark, 15m deep and with views across the Langdale Valley and South Lakes there really is nowhere more stunning (in my opinion.) With any mountain tarns, there is an element of walking up to it.

The path up to Stickle Ghyll from the valley is all steps put in by the National Trust but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s easy, you’re still ascending up to 473m. The Views back down from the tarn are definitely worth it though.

The ways it can be rocky and sometimes sharp so wearing swim socks or wetsuit booties would be recommended. One of the most spectacular wild swim spots in The Lake District.

Swindale Beck and waterfalls, Swindale

After all, if you still want your waterfall fix then Swindale would be perfect for you. Another quieter valley near Haweswater in the West Lake District, you park at the end of the road and walk a few miles to the series of waterfalls at the foot of the mountains behind. There are plenty of shallow pools for paddling with the family and deeper pools if you’re after that cold water fix.

These valleys are so quiet, you could barely see a soul all day, true, amazing wild swimming in The Lake District.

Derwentwater

The lake is situated just 15 minutes walk from Keswick town centre and is a great place for anything from a scenic dip to a longer swim. The lake is one of the shallower ones which means probably one of the warmest too. Don’t let that fool you though, it’s still bloomin’ cold in the winter! 

There are plenty of places to dip around the lake from right by the theatre and jetties which is close to everything, to dipping down the south end of the lake at Chinese Bridge which is a lovely scenic area, right in the heart of the Borrowdale Valley. You can actually swim from most places around the lake and most of the time you’ll have another swimmer for company! 

Fair warning though that it can get busy during the day on and off the water with walkers, paddlers, runners and the Keswick Launch boat. The best times to go are first thing in the morning and in the evening if you want some peace and quiet. However, it’s still great for a swim and picnic on a summers day. 

After your swim, you can pop back to Keswick for plenty of places to eat and drink including The Fellpack and Kats Kitchen, which both features on my Amazing Vegan and Vegetarian Places to Eat blog. 

Bassenthwaite Lake

Being the only true lake in The Lake District, why not take a dip in Bassenthwaite. You can access the lake right off the A66 if you’re looking for a quick dip alternatively, at the North West tip of the lake there are some quieter lay-by’s that make for a great place o park for a dip and a walk too. 

Grab your map as well because there are some fantastic paths that go most of the way around the lake. You can walk to the village from here ad grab some chips and a pint at The Sun Inn. This lake is one of the most underrated in The Lake District and is surrounded by some amazing mountains and fantastic scenery.

Easdale Tarn

Walking up from Grasmere Village you are treated to some truly incredible views of the central fells. The paths are well defined but don’t underestimate that it cans till be a challenging 6-mile round trip whatever the weather. When you get to the tarn you turn right and there are a series of small beach areas that you can get changed, swim from and dry off hopefully out of the wind!

The walk up follows Sourmilk Ghyll where you can even spot a few waterfalls that may be suitable for a dip too. You can really make a day of heading up to this tarn by being able to link it up with walks like Helm Crag, Tarn Crags or Bea Rigg. 

If you come back to Grasmere you care treated to so many incredible places to grab a bite to eat. Some just to mention are Lucia’s, Tweedies Bar, Mathilde’s Café and don’t forget to pick up your Grasmere Gingerbread.

Find a walk for the tarn here.  A great day out and taking in one of the most amazing wild swim spots in The Lake District.

Wastwater

The deepest lake in England and surrounded by some of the most dramatic scenery in the county too. Wastwater is a 5km long, quartz-bedded spectacle that is on most wild swimmers lists to dip in one day. Don’t fear, there are no monsters in this lake, except maybe other swimmers! 

There are plenty of shingle beaches along the north side where you can admire the dramatic mountain views. After your swim, you can pop to The Sawmill Cafe & Farm Shop that sits on the river and serves fantastic, home-made food. 

Wasdale is one of the most popular places to start your walk up Scafell Pike from but shouldn’t be underestimated as a beautiful place to swim too.

Styhead and Sprinkling Tarn

To finish you off, a double whammy! 

If you’d like a little more of a full day adventure and a swim in The Lake District then Styhead and Sprinkling Tarn are some of my favourites. Right in the shadow of Scafell Pike, this is no short walk in. Find a great route here.

The Walk is worth it though, with two tarns and plenty of waterfalls to take in there are plenty of opportunities to dip here. The tarns are surrounded by some spectacular scenery and you’ll come across walkers, climbers and runners alike.

For Wild Swimming Beginners:

If you are going to be wild swimming in the Lake District, but don’t know where to begin then you can always go out with a guide. Suzanna Swims  and Swim the Lakes  both run 1-to-1 and group sessions.

This is a great way to start as they can teach you valuable techniques to help you have a great time. Something to be aware of is blue green algae which is present in most of the major lakes in the Lake District. Lots of information can be found about it here.

Books to help on your swim journey:

 

Suzanna Swims also has a book featuring everything you need to know about swimming in the major lakes. Find it here. I also recommend Daniel Start’s Wild Swimming for so many swimming spots across the UK. Find it here

I would always recommend picking up maps for the lake district so you can find your way around and could try your hand at Blue-Lining. This is when you find a river and follow it to try and scout out any hidden spots for a quick dip. This shouldn’t be done alone though and only if you are a confident open water swimmer.

Maps can be found here.

Happy Swimming everyone and #sharetheswimlove!

Ali 🙂

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This is a Girl About recommendation. This means that it was not gifted in return for a review but paid in full by our writer and the venue had no idea that I was there. We only recommend places we absolutely love, and places that we know you’ll love too!

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