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.

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
  • Get to the point
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

    Recruitment Genius: Content Assistant / Copywriter

    £15310 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has arisen for a...

    Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

    £24000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Situated in the heart of Bradfo...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Reception Manager

    £18750 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Hotel in Chadderton is a popular ch...

    Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

    £Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence