Have you ever thought about alfresco swimming? Wild swimming, with its many benefits, has been rising in popularity over the years with more and more people taking to their natural springs and lakes surrounding them, and taking the plunge. In this article, we will be discussing what wild swimming entails, what the physical and mental effects are, and our top five spots in the UK, which we would recommend trying out if you are looking to take part in this phenomenon.
What is Wild Swimming?
Before donning your trunks or swim gear and getting ready to dive into your local pool, maybe give wild swimming a second thought. Swimming is a great form of exercise which not only engages your legs but also your upper body and core - which is why it’s such a popular way to work out. But what if we told you that you could combine both nature and swimming? Wild swimming is simply taking your normal swimming routine outside, in a more natural setting. Whether that be swimming in the sea or in a river, the importance of wild swimming is to avoid any man-made structures.
The Benefits of Wild Swimming
Once you’ve decided on your wild swimming spot of choice, you can start to reap the benefits. Not only is wild swimming more cost-effective than visiting your local swimming pool and allows you to exercise with the most beautiful scenery, but there are also a lot of physical benefits that come with participating in this type of exercise. Firstly, no matter if you’ve picked a freshwater river or the salty sea, you will most likely encounter cold water.
The colder, more natural water is ideal for reducing muscle soreness and improving your recovery time after an injury. On top of that, it can prevent other types of body aches and pain and lessens inflammation. The health benefits do not stop there! Wild swimming has also been known to improve our body's overall circulation. This is because the initial shock of the cold water can put our circulatory system into overdrive, as our body increases our normal blood flow levels in order to warm our cores and protect vital organs.
The physical benefits of wild swimming are all well-worth braving the cold water, and so are the mental effects this sport can have! Wild swimming can help manage anxiety levels, prevent depression and release stress from both the mind and body. Not only that, but after taking a cold dip, you will feel an increase in alertness, and your energy levels throughout the rest of the day will be at an all-time high!
Our Top 5 Picks For Wild Swimming In The UK
Now that we’ve established all the benefits of wild swimming, let’s get into our top picks for where is best to do it in the UK.
1. River Dart, Staverton, Devon
If you are looking for that perfect river wild swim, then we highly recommend taking a trip up to the River Dart in Staverton Devon. This river is well-known in the wild swim community as being a favoured place amongst the community. After hopping on the South Devon Railway train for the three-mile trip, you will be greeted by a gentle, relatively warm stretch of the river Dart. This river is popular due to how secluded it is, plus there is even a jumping-off point, where you take the plunge straight into the water!
2. Kailpot Crag, Ullswater, Lake District
Now moving North up through the UK, our next pick is Kailpot Crag in the Lake District. Would it truly be a list of the most popular wild swimming locations without mentioning the lake district? Due to this wonderful location being known for its amazing bodies of water, there are plenty of spaces to wild swim here - but one of our favourites has to be Kailpot Crag. With its surroundings of twisted oaks and rowan trees, this is a must for wild swimming. Not only that, but the lake is west-facing, meaning that it’s ideal if you wanted to swim in the evening and catch a breathtaking sunset whilst doing so.
3. Blue Lagoon, Pembrokeshire, Wales
If you’ve always dreamt of swimming in the blue lagoon in Iceland, look no further - we have one right here, in Wales! The nearby sea flooded one of the former quarries, which in turn has created a seemingly endless pool, which is often illuminated in the summer and is quite the sun trap, making the water comfortably warm. Of course, after your wild dip, you can enjoy the surrounding sandy beaches and cliff walk.
4. Beckenham Park Swimming Lake, London
Wild swimming in London? You read that right! For our city mice out there, you don’t have to be living in the country to get your wild swim on. In 2019, the park refilled its old Georgian Lake, which was converted to an open-water hangout - ideal for those looking to exercise in nature. Also, with this being London, you know that there is also a spot to grab a coffee nearby. So, after your long swim, you can visit the cafe in the park for a post-swim treat. We personally think this is London’s new best-kept secret!
5. Falls of Falloch, Crianlarich, Scotland
Scotland is another hot spot when it comes to wild swimming. The Falls of Falloch in particular is a breathtaking space to take part in this sport. Surrounded by the snow-capped mountain Ben Lui, it's ideal for an alfresco swim. Whilst doing so, you can breathe in the fresh, pine-scented air from the woodland canopies, and revel in the tranquil land which is around this circular lake.