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 ( 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;; 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 (, then amble back into town for afternoon tea at Betty's (01943 608029;

In with the tide

Rock pooling takes a different context at Bude Sea Pool (; 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 ( 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 ( 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; 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 ( 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;; from £280 per week self-catering) next to the bay then head down to the water for swims at sunrise or sunset.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Life and Style
food + drink
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
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

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Day In a Page

    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits