The UK’s gentle countryside and abundant bodies of water mean visitors will find ample opportunities for al fresco dips. Traverse near-forgotten pathways and stumble upon distant glades while exploring our pick of the country's six most alluring wild swimming spots.
Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye
The Fairy Pools look as magical as they sound
The Fairy Pools form a collection of ice-blue waters and tumbling rapids that look like something straight out of Scottish folklore. Amid the Isle of Skye's emerald knolls (hills) and towering glens (valleys), these ponds can be reached via a trek along the River Brittle. The water temperature may be breathlessly cold but it's also endlessly enticing and refreshing to swim beneath rocky cliffs and under hidden arches shrouded by waterfalls. Clamber up onto the surrounding rocks to dry off in the sun before a drive home to the wooden cabins of Skeabost View Pods Skye.
Lower Ddwili Falls, Brecon Beacons
The Lower Ddwili Falls are hidden in the woods of Pontneddfechan
Hidden in Wales' bucolic Waterfall Country beneath the hulking red sandstone peaks of the Brecon Beacons, you'll find the Lower Ddwili Falls. An open pool crested by gushing waterfalls, this place is a real spectacle. You can reach it via a walk through the woods from the villages of Pontneddfechan or Pont Melin-Fach. On sunny days, the waterfall mist leaves rainbow trails overhead. Spend the night at 18th-century farmhouse, Beili Helyg Guest House, just a short drive away.
Blue Lagoon, Pembrokeshire
True to its name, the Blue Lagoon is a gorgeous sheen of turquoise
On the Pembrokeshire shoreline near Abereiddy, there's a quarry filled with turquoise water that's known locally as the Blue Lagoon. At 25 metres deep, this shimmering plunge pool is primed for diving enthusiasts, having hosted a global cliff-diving competition. For a dose of adrenaline, the old quarry building serves as a great platform to jump from, though a languid swim through the silky waters is just as good. The lagoon is reached via the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – stay at Caerhys B&B, which is just half a kilometre away from the coastal trail.
Linhope Spout Waterfall, Northumberland
Dive into this surreal Northumberland pool before a picnic beside it
You’ll know when you’ve reached Linhope Spout Waterfall when you hear its long plume of water crashing down into the plunge pool and onto the rocks below. It's as spectacular a backdrop for wild swimming as it is for a picnic, with the waterfall being 18 metres high and slicing straight down through a quiet glade. You may be sharing your serene swimming spot with the local red squirrel, often spotted scurrying across the forest floor in search of fallen pine cones. Complete your day out with a night at the equally pretty Tankerville Arms in the nearby village of Eglingham.
Llyn Glaslyn, Snowdonia
Lyln Glaslyn has a long-standing association with Arthurian legend
The lake of Llyn Glaslyn is shaped like a heart and cradled by mountains, and has long been the subject of Arthurian legend. Folklore suggests that King Arthur had Sir Bedivere hurl his sword Excalibur into the water here, with Arthur’s body later placed in a boat to be carried away to Avalon. Glaslyn is also the alleged resting place of a water monster that once wreaked havoc upon the people of the valley. These days it’s more sun and scenery than swords and sea creatures, with deep blue waters and mountains that are often thinly veiled in mist. The lake can be reached by walking Snowdonia's Miners' Track. Keep your outdoors adventure going with a stay at one of these wooden camping pods.
Stainforth Force, North Yorkshire
Wander past the thunderous Catrigg Force on your way to Stainforth Force
Stainforth Force is a great swimming choice for the truly wild at heart. A tumble of icy rapids swerve down the stony river bed here, culminating in a frothing waterfall. It's enveloped by a series of staggered cliffs, providing multiple spots for any brave swimmers to jump off and plunge into the chilly waters below. While you’re in the water, it’s not unusual to see pink-trim wild salmon leaping in and out of the river. Cross the ancient packhorse bridge when you head home towards the Falcon Manor Hotel, admiring the windswept landscape of the Yorkshire Dales on your way.