Top places to swim in the UK – from wild ponds to water slides

Who needs the Med or Caribbean when you have the UK's best swimming spots to cool off in?

So far, we've been having a pretty good summer and for those of us who have had the sense to stay in Britain and enjoy it, a cooling dip can be hugely appealing. That doesn't have to mean piling into a public swimming pool, or elbowing space for your towel next to a cloudy lido, either. There are plenty of opportunities to go wild, or swim in pools or lakes without the crowds, or with splendid views. If you embark on more of an adventurous dip, consider Wild Swimming's safety tips first (wildswimming.co.uk/health-safety). Then all that's left to do is grab your costume and dive in.

A pool with a view

Plying the cool waters of Ilkley Lido (01943 600453; ilkleylido.co.uk; adults £5.70; concessions £2.80), soaking up verdant views of Ilkley Moor, it's easy to slip into a blissful blur, even during the busy summer holidays. With tennis and bowls offered beyond the poolside, as well as a café and picnic area, you could happily spend the whole day here. But if you have reserves of energy, follow up your dip with a stroll on the moor (ilkleymoor.org/walks), then amble back into town for afternoon tea at Betty's (01943 608029; bettys.co.uk).

In with the tide

Rock pooling takes a different context at Bude Sea Pool (budeseapool.net; admission free). Built in 1930, the tidal pool is cut into the Cornish coastline. As the pool fills at high tide and warms throughout the day, it offers a sheltered, less bracing alternative to braving the Atlantic waves. It's also one of few remaining tidal pools in Britain. The ASA (swimming.org/asa) is offering free improver swimming lessons at the pool for seven to 14-year-olds on various dates until 26 August (bookings: 07508 737570).

The Bude Sea Pool, Cornwall The Bude Sea Pool, Cornwall (Alamy) A freshwater dip

Llyn Gwynant delivers on top-quality swimming and stunning scenery: this vast lake in the Nant Gwynant valley is surrounded by the green slopes of Snowdonia. Cool Camping (coolcamping.co.uk) recommends the Llyn Gwynant campsite (01766 890302) at the northern tip of the lake as "one of Britain's best for an activity-based family". The campsite offers kayaking and canoeing on the water and there's a wood-fired pizza stall nearby; pitches from £8 per person per night. On hot days, cool off by easing yourself into the water (both ends are shallow) to glide across to "Elephants Rock".

Fast and furious

Rush 'n' Rampage. The Master Blaster Water Coaster. Flash Flood. You get the idea – Alton Towers waterpark (0871 222 9901; altontowers.com/waterpark) offers high-octane thrills and plenty of splash action. Bolstering the indoor pool offering are flumes, slides, rapids and water features that range from the lazy river to a waterborne rollercoaster. Tickets cost £16.50 adult, £11.75 under-12s but are slightly cheaper if you book online. The adjoining Splash Landings Hotel is a Caribbean-themed retreat where packages start at £260 for a night's B&B in a family room with two days' admission to the waterpark for four.

Cast away

The waters off the coast of Achmelvich are recommended by Daniel Start, author of Wild Swimming: Hidden Beaches (wildswimming.co.uk). In this unspoilt corner of the Scottish Highlands there are a number of secluded, white sand spots to choose from, including a near-turquoise bay that shelves gently down from the shoreline. Access is by single-track road (three miles from Lochinver) so the area rarely gets crowded. Stay at Hillhead Caravans (01571 844206; achmelvich-holidays.co.uk; from £280 per week self-catering) next to the bay then head down to the water for swims at sunrise or sunset.

Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?