With misty lakes, meandering rivers and hidden tarns, there are hundreds of places to wild swim in the Lake District. Here are our top 10 swimming spots for both family activities and secluded bliss.

By: Mark Barnes | Published: 29 Jun 2023

The Lake District is an excellent destination for open-water swimming.

The vast bodies of water offer beautiful spots for an early morning workout, while the small glacial ponds (tarns) provide an exhilarating way to cool off after a long hike in the high mountains

Rivers that carve picturesque canyons, babbling brooks, and natural lagoon plunge pools, provide a wild swimming adventure for all tastes.

Although some of the locations on our list are more remote than many others, they offer the most rewarding wild swimming experiences we’re found after years of exploring the area. However, if you’re looking for a safe and fun location for families, we have those options as well.

wild swimming in the Lake District

IN THIS GUIDE

LAKE DISTRICT WILD SWIMMING


HELPING PROTECT THE LAKES

Swimmers transferring invasive, non-native weeds to some of the Lake District’s most pristine lakes is becoming a problem. So if you plan to take a dip in multiple lakes please rinse yourself, your swimwear, and any other equipment thoroughly between each swim.

This will help to maintain the pristine conditions of the English Lakes.

For more information about swimming responsibly in the Lake District, catch up on the rules at the Outdoor Swimming Society.

WILD SWIMMING IN THE LAKE DISTRICT MAP

Each of the parking locations mentioned in this article have been marked on the map, along with the best spots to jump in for a swim.

To help decide where to base yourself, read our article on the best places to stay in the Lake District.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


1 – FELL FOOT, WINDERMERE

Best wild swimming near comfortable facilities and lessons

Windermere is the largest body of water in the Lake District.

Regular boat traffic can make swimming difficult, but Fell Foot National Trust Park and Garden, at the southern end, is a family-friendly swimming lake near Windermere.

Fell Foot offers easy access to the water from a large grassy slope, making it an excellent spot for paddling, swimming, or kayaking on Windermere.

SleekerSwim offers swimming courses for both beginner and intermediate swimmers at Fell Foot, which is an excellent way to boost your confidence as an open-water swimmer.

Facilities — Hot showers and changing rooms are available at the Active Base Fitness Centre with a £2 day pass. Pay and display parking is available onsite and there are picnic tables and toilets.

HOW TO GET TO FELL FOOT

Fell Foot is 8 miles from Windermere (location – LA12 8NN). The number 6 bus from Windermere stops out the front of Fell Foot. Parking is £6 for up to 2 hours, free for National Trust Members.

2 – GLENRIDDING, ULLSWATER

Best wild swimming in the Lake District for young kids and families

At the southern end of Ullswater, in the town of Glenridding, gently sloping beaches descend into a beautiful part of the lake. It’s easy and safe access to the water, with large open grassy banks making it just right for young kids.

St Patrick’s Boatyard rents kayaks and swimming from the boats is allowed, provided you can pull yourself back in!

Ullswater at Glenridding isn’t exactly for getting away from the crowds, but on most days, you can find a decent spot to call your own.

Facilities — All the facilities of Glenridding (toilets, shops, pubs, cafes) are just a few minutes’ walk away.

HOW TO GET TO GLENRIDDING

If you get lucky, you may get a park on the road near Glenridding, otherwise, there is a large pay and display car park (location – CA11 0PD) just a few minutes walk from the swimming spot.

3 – GLENRIDDING BECK

Best rewarding swim in the Lake District after a long ridge hike

Glenridding Beck is a small swimming spot near the village of Glenridding. It’s a secluded rocky lagoon pool, hidden in trees and fed by a small waterfall. The temperature is bracing, but the water is clean and clear and it’s the perfect way to cool off after a long hike.

Glenridding Beck is just off the main hiking trail that returns from the Helvellyn via Striding Edge walk, around 30 minutes out of Glenridding. Although its beside a popular walk, the swimming spot is generally quiet and easy to miss from the path just above it.

HOW TO GET TO GLENRIDDING BECK

Glenridding Beck is around 40 minute’s walk from the village of Glenridding. Park at the pay and display car park in the village (location – CA11 0PD).

4 – RYDAL WATER

Best wild swimming in the Lake District for serene early morning laps in calm waters.

Rydal Water is a serene and peaceful place for open water swimming in the Lake District. Sheltered on all sides by mountains and low in altitude, the water is often a little stiller and a little warmer than other swimming spots.

Surrounded by hilly woodlands crisscrossed with jogging tracks, Rydal Water is the perfect place to get active in nature. It’s not as remote as some of the other swimming locations, but it’s a beautiful spot that kids and families will love.

Where to swim? — There’s a shelving beach on the far side of the lake, around 20 minutes walk from the car park. The nearby grassy banks are perfect for a picnic.

Facilities — There are no facilities at the swimming spot, but there are public toilets at the White Moss Car Park.

HOW TO GET TO RYDAL WATER

Rydal Water is an excellent swimming lake near Grasmere and Ambleside. Park at the White Moss Car Park on the A591 (location – LA22 9SE), then walk for 25 minutes anti-clockwise around the lake.

5 – GRASMERE

Best wild swimming in the Lake District for a family-friendly swim from a gentle shelving beach

Like its neighbour Rydal Water, Grasmere is one of the shallower lakes in the Lake District, keeping the temperatures warmer throughout the year. Nestled among the surrounding mountains, near the centrally located village of the same name, Grasmere is a picturesque place to wild swim in the Lake District.

The Lake is around 1500 metres in length, so you can put some serious lengths behind you. The gentle shelving beach provides very easy access so it’s perfect for families with children.

Before or after swimming in Grasmere, hike up to Loughrigg Fell for 360° views including Grasmere, Windermere, Elterwater and Loughrigg Tarn. All the details are in our Lake District walks guide.

Where to swim – The best swimming areas are along the south side of the lake with a large and popular shelving beach just near the River Rothay, under the flanks of Loughrigg Fell.  

Facilities – There are no facilities at the beach, however Faeryland Grasmere on the northern tip of the lake has a cute tea garden. They also hire out rowing boats for a romantic experience on Grasmere.

HOW TO GET TO GRASMERE

Parking is available at either Rydal Water Car Park (location – LA22 9SE) or White Moss Car Park (as above) from where the beach is a 15 minute walk. Alternatively, it’s around 40 minutes’ walk on the western side of the lake from the village of Grasmere.

6 – LOUGHRIGG TARN

Best wild swimming in the Lake District to soak your limbs at the end of the day.

Loughrigg Tarn is a reed-fringed lake set among farmland in the heart of the Lake District. It’s on a popular hiking trail, but often overlooked. But, after a long hike, Loughrigg Tarn is the perfect place to relax tired limbs and unwind.

Set among the lush green pastures of gently rolling farmland, Loughrigg is less rugged and more tranquil. The natural farmland scenery is a typical Lake District scene.

Where to swim? — The easiest access is on the southeast side of the tarn.

Facilities — There are no facilities at Loughrigg Tarn.

HOW TO GET LOUGHRIGG TARN

Park at the car park at the top of the Foulstep Road just above Skelwith Bridge, then walk for 5 minutes down to the tarn.

Lake district wild swimming
LOUGHRIGG TARN

7 – BROWN HOWE, CONISTON

Best wild swimming in the Lake District for family fun and picnics

Protected by the towering slopes of the Old Man of Coniston, Coniston Water is one of the most serene lakes in the Lake District. For many years, it was the site where Donald Campbell set the world record for speed on water.

Nestled in the southwestern corner of Coniston, Brown Howe is a large shingle beach that offers pretty mountain views reflected in crystal-clear water. The gentle, shallow access makes it a perfect swimming spot for families.

Access to the lake is wheelchair and buggy-friendly, and it’s easy to take a quick dip from the shoreline. With a wide access point, Brown Howe is also a great spot to launch a kayak or canoe.

Facilities — There are public toilets in the car park and a picnic area including tables and chairs. No bins are provided so you’ll need to take your rubbish with you.

HOW TO GET TO BROWN HOWE

The Brown Howe car park is on the A5084 between Torver and Greenodd, right beside the lake (location – LA12 8DW). Parking can be paid for via the machine in the parking lot or via the Ringo app.  

8 – WASTWATER

Best wild swimming in the Lake District near remote dramatic scenery.

Wastwater is the deepest lake in the Lake District, surrounded by huge craggy mountains in a truly dramatic setting, it provides one of the most scenic places in the country for a wild swim.

While on a cold day the setting might look a little forbidding, find a warm sunny afternoon and you’re in for a treat. Gently sloping rocks descend to the lake, making it easy to enter. Grassy banks are great for a picnic and the views are spectacular.

With the sun reflecting off the mountains, and the water shimmering, there are few places better for a thoroughly enjoyable (although slightly chilly) outdoor activity in the UK.

Where to swim? — Several little beaches are sprinkled around the shore where you can launch for a long swim, lay in the shallows or just soak up the views from the bank. The best spot to swim is just south of Countess Beck.

Facilities at Wastwater — There are no facilities at Wastwater, but the Saw Mill Café a few kilometres south is great for coffee and lunch. Alternatively, the Wasdale Head Inn is just 5 kilometres away.

HOW TO GET TO WASTWATER

Wastwater is in a remote area of the Lake District and is difficult to get to via public transport. There is 24-hour pay and display parking on the lake shore at Lakehead, Overbeck, and Nether Wasdale (location – CA20 1EX).

9 – BLEA TARN

Best wild swimming in the Lake District for wading amongst high, picturesque views.

There are few more picturesque spots for open-water swimming in the Lake District than Blea Tarn. The still water reflecting the Langdale Pikes is one of the best views in the Lake District.

In the early morning, as the mist slowly drifts from the lake, Blea Tarn is a picture of serenity. It’s the perfect spot for a rejuvenating wake-up swim and a wonderful thing to do while exploring the remote Langdale Valley.

Where to swim? — The swimming location is easily accessible, around 5 minutes’ walk from the car park.

Facilities — There are no facilities at Blea Tarn, but the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel is a classic old walkers pub, just 8 minute’s drive from Blea Tarn.

HOW TO GET TO BLEA TARN

The Blea Tarn Car Park between Little and Great Langdale Valleys (postcode – LA22 9PG) is £5 for 2 hours and accepts cash only. Free for National Trust members.

10 – BLACK MOSS POT

Best wild swimming in the Lake District for plunging into a lagoon pool from rocky ledges.

Our favourite wild swimming spot in the Lake District, Black Moss Pot is a dramatic gorge pool cut into the rock high up in the Langstrath Valley. The pool is a thin corridor between two high rocky walls. No more than two or three metres wide and 50 metres long it’s a great channel to swim along.

At one end vertical rocks lean over a wider pool. About 5 metres above the water they are ideal for leaping off. At the other end a rocky beach makes for an easier entrance and a lazy, relaxing soak.

The walk along Langstrath Beck from Borrowdale to get to the pool is wonderful hike in a rugged wilderness. On route it passes Galleny Force (mentioned below), enabling two wild swims on the same excursion.

Where to swim? — The pot is a 1-hour walk up the valley from the village of Stonethwaite, which also provides one of the best views in the area without any climbing.

Facilities — There are no facilities at Black Moss Pot, but the Stonethwaite Campsite at the start of the walk has toilets and the Langstrath Country Inn in Stonethwaite sells a fine pint.

HOW TO GET TO BLACK MOSS POT

Park in the village of Stonethwaite and walk along the river for 1 hour past the Langstrath Country Inn. See our Black Moss Pot article for all the details.

11 – GALLENY FORCE

Best wild swimming in the Lake District near a great local pub.

Just 15 minutes along Langstrath Beck from the Langstrath Country Inn, the river forms a small waterfall called Galleny Force. In a lovely wooded section of the valley, the falls curve around the large boulders lining the river, creating atmospheric spots to unwind and go for a dip.

Set up camp here for an afternoon and spend your time cooling off in the falls, jumping into the pools from their swing rope or taking a walk along the valley.

Once you’ve soaked up the atmosphere, head back to the Langstrath Country Inn in Stonethwaite for a pint. It’s one of our favourite pubs in the Lake District and a great way to end a day of wild swimming.

HOW TO GET TO GALLENY FORCE

Park in the village of Stonethwaite and walk along the river for 15 minutes past the Langstrath Country Inn.

12 – CRUMMOCK WATER

Crummock Water is one of the deepest lakes in the Lake District, keeping the temperatures colder longer, even throughout the summer months. Located in a remote part of the Lake District, it sees few visitors, so you’ll often have the lake to yourself.

At its southeastern end is Crummock South Beach, where a gentle shingle beach drops into the chilly waters. It may be a refreshing dip, but the mountains that surround the lake are some of the most striking in the Lake District.

There is another good entry point on the path that runs from the Bridge Hotel in Buttermere along the river (10 minutes).

Facilities – There are no facilities at Crummock Water, but the village of Buttermere is a 15-minute walk away.

HOW TO GET TO CRUMMOCK WATER

The southeastern end of Crummock Water is about half a mile from the village of Buttermere which has a large National Trust Car Park (location – CA13 9UZ).

It’s a 30-minute drive from the town of Keswick or you can get the 77/77A bus that makes a magnificent loop from Keswick via Borrowdale and Honister to Buttermere (1 hour) and then via Whinlatter back to Keswick (45 minutes).

sunrise over a deep flat valley with two lakes
CRUMMOCK WATER, LAKE DISTRICT

13 – SPRINKLING TARN

Best wild swimming in the Lake District near one of the best summits.

Sprinkling Tarn is a true wild swimming experience. 600m in altitude and nestled under the largest mountains in the Lake District, its hard to get to (about a 2hour steadily climbing walk) and even harder to get into (it can be icy cold).

The tarn is situated on the Scafell Pike Corridor Route, which is one of the most scenic walks in the lakes. A great day is to complete the hike and swim in Sprinkling Tarn on the way down. The tarn has an island in the middle. On a sunny day, swim across and soak up those rays.

Facilities — There’s nothing at Sprinkling Tarn except for craggy mountains rising all around and icy water framed by wild grasses. It’s an experience that will literally leave you breathless.

HOW TO GET TO SPRINKLING TARN

Park alongside the road just before the farm at Seathwaite. The walk to Sprinkling Tarn takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes uphill.

14 – POTS OF ESKDALE

Best wild swimming in the Lake District for exploring this most beautiful and remote valley.

Eskdale is one of the most beautiful places in the Lake District. A wide, picturesque valley wedged between the high mountains; its remoteness adds to its rugged allure.

Babbling along the bottom of the valley is the River Esk. Cutting its way through the rock it has formed deep plunge pools, rocky canyons, and pretty waterfalls. There are places to swim all along its length.

Kail Pot and Pillar Pot are beautiful pools where you can sit and be massaged by the flow of the water. Tongue Pot is a deep pool with high walls perfect for leaping in from. Head upstream where the river has cut a canyon and plunge pools sit above lovely waterfalls.

The only people you are like to meet are a few Ghyll scramblers up for a Lake District adventure.

HOW TO GET TO THE POTS OF ESKDALE

Park at the bottom of Hardknott Pass near Brotherinkeld Farm then walk up the Eskdale Valley. Kail Pot and Pillar Pot are 25 minutes from the car park; Tongue Pot is 20 minutes further.

TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE WILD SWIMMING IN THE LAKE DISTRICT

01Enter the water slowly. The temperature may be cold, especially so in deeper areas. If it’s your first time, stay close to the shore while you get used to the conditions.

02 – Never jump in unless your heart and body have already become acclimatised, you know what’s below the surface and have a plan on how to get out again.

03 – Do not swim in rivers with strong currents, there is a risk of being swept downstream. If you feel the current is fine stay near the bank, as the water is usually slower moving. Swim upstream first because you don’t want to leave the more tiring work till the end.

04 – Be aware of the cold, hypothermia can come to you quickly. For longer swims in summer or any swims in winter wear a wetsuit and make sure you have warm clothes to change back into when you are finished.

05 If you plan on swimming across deep water then do not go on your own, it’s safer and more fun with others.

06 – If you are swimming on a river or lake with lots of boats, wear a colourful hat or take a visibility float.

07 – Avoid areas of blue-green algae, wading in muddy areas or swimming with an open cut.

08 – Have fun and take a picnic. It’s a great day out, but beware being drunk and wild swimming isn’t a good mix.

THANKS FOR VISITING // WHERE NEXT?



A BIG THANK YOU

We’ve been providing free travel content on Anywhere We Roam since 2017. If you appreciate what we do, here are some ways you can support us.

Thank you!

Paul & Mark

FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM

USE OUR RESOURCES PAGE

bmc button