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Swim on the wild side

Five perfect spots for wild swimming 

Wild swimming – that is swimming outside in the sea, lake, loch or river, has surged in popularity over the last few years with people of all ages enjoying the sense of freedom, comradery, exhilaration and adventure it brings.

Cold water swimming in particular is having a moment with fans like Hugh Fearnly Whittingstall extolling the mental and physical health benefits. If you’re new to the sport, then swimming in temperatures below double figures – or even in the low teens – should be treated with caution. Never swim alone but consider a training session for beginners or meeting up with the many friendly clubs you’ll find on social media. As we head towards warmer weather, spring is the perfect time to explore the opportunities for safe swims in the great outdoors.

Here are five great locations for an outdoor swim

1. Wild river swimming in the Thames

Perhaps surprisingly the UK’s most iconic river has several safe and secluded spots for swimming along its 215 mile length, and many are close to riverside pubs too. The Cotswolds offers some stunning swimming locations on the Thames. Lechlade River Park, for example, is a spacious family friendly location for a dip and is just outside the pretty town of Lechlade on Thames. Or for a more protected swimming pool-like experience try Buscott Weir Pool, which has shallow edges, a deep centre and very little current. It is also well served with a National Trust car park, tearoom and toilets.

2. A muddy but magical marine lake 

The lovely Victorian seaside town of Clevedon, Somerset overlooks the Severn Estuary.  It is famous for the intricate Clevedon Pier, England’s only Grade 1 listed pier and Curzon Clevedon Cinema, the oldest working cinema in the world. While it is possible to swim in the sea – and underneath the pier – because the Severn Estuary has the second highest tidal range in the world, it is definitely worth going with an experienced group if you don’t know what you are doing.

But for safe swims all year around, head to Clevedon Marine Lake, built in 1929 and naturally filled with seawater from the high tides, this is a haven for serious swimmers and novices alike with plenty of friendly social swimming clubs and coaches to help ease you in – just mind the muddy bottom!

3. A plodge in the North Sea

The blue flag Roker and Seaburn beaches in Sunderland are both brilliant wide sandy stretches perfect for seaside strolls, watersports and fish and chips. The North Sea is always going to be a bit on the chilly side, but that doesn’t stop swimmers at the Roker Bathing Club meeting every Sunday morning throughout the year. This friendly group welcomes everyone from plodgers to serious swimmers. A plodge, in case you are wondering, is a North-East term for wading or splashing around.

4. A mythical mountain view and waterfalls

For an icy dip with a truly spectacular view, you can’t beat Llyn y Fan Fach in the Black Mountains in the Brecon Beacons, South Wales. This glacial pool is 18 metres deep and legend has it that it the site where the Lady of the Lake disappeared in the 13th Century. It is a wildlife haven too, so you’re likely to see Red Kites, Kestrels and perhaps some fish as you take the plunge. Head to the car park just past Llanddeusant and from here it’s a matter of walking along the Beacon Way trail. If you’re in the Brecon Beacons area you might also consider a dip in the fantastic waterfalls too. Sgwd Einion Gam (‘The Fall of the Crooked Anvil’) or Lower Ddwli Falls are idyllic spots for a walking, swimming and picnics.

5. A beautiful blue sea pool 

Bude in Cornwall is already a mecca for lovers of open water, with golden sandy beaches, rugged cliffs and surf boards, paddle boards and pastel coloured beach huts for hire, as well as cafes and restaurants with coastal views serving traditional Cornish fare. Hidden in the rocks of Summerleaze beach, Bude sea pool is a safe and sheltered semi-natural swimming pool. With blue waters and a fantastic view of over the ocean, it is a true swimmer’s heaven.

Thinking of retiring to the coast?

Coastal walks, stunning views and the opportunity to splash about in the waves…sounds good? Retirement by the sea is the ultimate dream for many of us. And you’re ready to make that dream a reality McCarthy Stone has seaside retirement developments across the country. Explore coastal developments here.

McCarthy Stone is the UK’s leading developer of retirement communities offering beautiful retirement homes to rent or for sale. For more information, please visit McCarthy Stone.  Or browse McCarthy Stone retirement apartments for sale or rent across the UK.

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