One of the best things about owning a motorhome is the freedom it gives you to explore new places and try new things. And there are few more liberating, refreshing and exciting feelings than indulging in a spot of wild swimming at one of the UK’s many beautiful locations. From shimmering lakes and tranquil rivers to wild and rugged coastal spots, wild swimming can offer something for all ages.
If you want to take part in this popular activity then you might be wondering how to get started? We’ve compiled an essential guide covering water safety, what to wear, great wild swimming locations and some top places to park up. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive straight in!
However, before you throw the swimming kit and towels in the back of your trusty motorhome, make sure you’ve got the best motorhome insurance to keep your vehicle and its contents covered during your outdoor adventure. Give Motorhome Protect a call today.
What is wild swimming?
Wild swimming isn’t very complicated at all. In fact, there are few outdoor activities that are simpler, and that’s part of its charm. Basically, it’s just swimming outside in a natural body of water. From bends in a small river or a tranquil lake to a plunge in the sea, the key thing is to get out into nature.
Whether you like your water fresh or salty, there’s bound to be a nearby spot where people are enjoying wild swimming. Similar to wild camping, wild swimming has become a bit of a buzzword in the UK with many magazine articles and TV programmes lauding its benefits. Indeed, at some wild swimming spots you might find it even busier than the local indoor pool!
Safety tips for wild swimmers
Wild swimming is great fun and the perfect way to stay fit and healthy while connecting with nature. However, just like any activity connected to the water, it can be dangerous if you don’t take safety seriously. Unfortunately, every year there are water-related accidents and even deaths that could have been avoided by taking the right precautions.
So, if you’ve parked up your motorhome and are heading down to the river for a bracing swim then be sure to remember these top 10 safety tips.
- Avoid canals, city rivers or stagnant lakes.
- Don’t swim in flood water and be careful of water quality during droughts.
- Cover cuts and wounds with waterproof plasters.
- Avoid blue–green algae.
- Don’t swim alone.
- Always check the current, depth and any underwater obstructions.
- Identify your entry and exit points along the river, and plan how you will get out before you get in.
- Watch out for the cold – warm up before and after, ideally in your motorhome!
- If possible, wear footwear to protect your feet.
- Watch out for boats and other water users. Make sure you are clearly visible.
And always make sure you’ve got motorhome insurance to protect your home on wheels while you are away swimming. Theft and damage can occur at any time.
Finding a wild swimming club near you
Swimming with others is a key part of staying safe on the UK’s waterways. If you don’t have someone to go wild swimming with or just want to meet other like-minded people then check out local Facebook groups for wild swimming. Social media is a great place to share tips and find great wild swimming spots. Often these swimming groups will have events and meet-ups which make the whole experience even more fun.
If you’re really serious about getting into wild swimming then why not join the Outdoor Swimming Society (OSS)? Founded in 2006, the OSS now has around 100,000 members across its channels, making it the biggest wild swimming group in the UK. And it’s free to join! As well as lots of helpful tips and advice it has a database of local wild swim groups and hosts several events across the country, including the legendary Dart 10k. If you’re looking for an outdoor swim event near where you’ll be touring in your motorhome, then check out its invaluable events calendar.
What to wear when you’re wild swimming
Depending on the time of year, location and how experienced you are at wild swimming, there’s some essential kit that might be worth investing in.
Ideal for keeping you warm and adding an important level of buoyancy, it’s useful to invest in a wetsuit. Many people already have wetsuits for activities like windsurfing or surfing, and these are great if you’re planning on just splashing around in a river somewhere. However, if you really want to get serious about swimming then it’s worth buying a specific swimming wetsuit. Offering greater shoulder mobility and more streamlining than a normal wetsuit a swimming wetsuit will really help you get into the right stroke.
When it comes to wild swimming, swimming hats aren’t just useful for keeping your hair dry! It’s important that you are easily spotted by other water users and those on the riverbanks such as fishermen. If it’s particularly cold then a neoprene swim cap might offer a vital extra layer of protection, especially if you’re swimming in the sea.
It's important to protect your eyes and maintain clear vision while wild swimming – particularly if you’re planning on diving underwater. Polarised goggles are perfect for coping with the dazzling glare off the water while clear goggles are useful for more gloomy days. Whatever you choose, make sure they are clean and clear of scratches.
Swimming ear plugs
Getting water in your ears can be unpleasant at the best of times. However, when wild swimming this can be particularly troublesome. Ear infections can be a hazard for wild swimmers so pick up a set of swimming ear plugs when you’re next visiting a sports shop.
Swimming boots and gloves
Extremities like your hands and feet are often the first to feel the cold. And if they’re not protected they can quickly feel numb. As well as protecting you from the cold, they will also help minimise injury to your hands and feet. From weever fish to sharp rocks there can be many painful hazards in the wild environment.
Tow floats are blow-up floats that are attached to a swimmer using a waist band and leash. They float behind you and don’t get in the way of your swimming. While these might not be an essential for wild swimming they are becoming an increasing requirement at events and some wild swimming locations. While they can provide some support for your weight if you stop for a rest, their main purpose is to increase your visibility in the water. There are many kinds of tow floats on the market with different features such as storage or hydration options.
10 perfect places for wild swimming in the UK
There are so many amazing wild swimming spots in the UK, that it’s difficult to just choose 10! However, from secluded beaches, to wide lakes and meandering rivers, here are just a few of our favourites.
- Rydal Water, Lake District
The jewel in the crown when it comes to water-based activities in the UK, we really have to begin with a visit to the Lake District. This wild swimmer’s paradise in the north east has countless opportunities to take a dip. Areas can get busy not only with other swimmers but also ferries and boats. That’s why we’ve chosen Rydal Water, one of the quieter spots, to take the plunge.
Where to stay: Low Wray Campsite, Ambleside, Cumbria
- Grantchester Meadows, Cambridgeshire
The River Cam winds its way through some of the country’s most idyllic spots. And if you’re in the mood for a quintessentially English river dip, then head to the quaint village of Grantchester Meadows. Here the river’s shallows and pools have been visited by many famous people over the years, including the wildly romantic figure of Lord Byron. A perfect place to lay back and relax in the summer sunshine.
Where to stay: Cambridge Camping and Caravanning Club Site, Cambridgeshire
- River Stour, Fordwich, Kent
Rising in the very heart of Kent and ending at the stunning Pegwell Bay near Sandwich on the East coast, the Great Stour can lay claim to some of the UK’s best wild swimming locations.
Our favourite can be found at Fordwich. Often labelled as England’s smallest town, Fordwich is nestled right next to the river. Why not jump in from the cracking riverside pub The Fordwich Arms and enjoy the crystal-clear waters. Make sure you dry off before lunch!
Where to stay: Oast House, Stourmouth, Canterbury, Kent
- River Barle, Simonsbath, Exmoor National Park, Somerset
A perfect spot can be found on the River Barle at Simonsbath, a small village nestled in a valley of Exmoor National Park. This site provides great swimming and paddling opportunities for all ages from the ancient stone ‘clapper bridge’ at Tarr Steps. For deeper, more secluded pools and a quieter atmosphere, walk upstream for about 20 minutes. As a site of Special Scientific Interest, there is a wealth of rare flora and fauna to see. And some great nearby pubs to reward yourself with something warm and hearty.
Where to stay: Doone Valley Campsite, Lynton, Devon
- Treyarnon Rock Pool, Cornwall
Located on the wild and rugged north Cornish coast, Treyarnon Bay is a magical spot perfect for children to swim and snorkel. It has a small, sandy beach which is bordered by low cliffs and dunes – great to explore. At the north edge of the beach is an entirely natural rock pool that’s refilled each high tide with fresh seawater. A simply heavenly place to take in the panoramic views along this coast.
Where to stay: Tregurrian Camping and Caravanning Club Site
- Abereiddy Beach, Pembrokeshire, Wales
There are few places to feel more in awe of the natural world than the rocky cliffs of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. But it’s the man-made former slate quarry here that’s the reason wild swimmers should book their trip now. Famous for hosting watersports events, such as the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series, the Blue Lagoon has stunning sapphire blue waters and a deep plunge pool. It’s also extremely cold!
Where to stay: St David’s Lleithyr Meadow Caravan Club Site, St David’s, Pembrokeshire, Wales
- Lady Falls ‘Sgwd Gwladys’ near Pontneddfechan, Brecon Beacons, Wales
With a profusion of mosses and ferns growing all around, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve ended up in a rainforest! Hidden in the heart of woodland, the gentle, green waters of this enchanting plunge pool are edged with a small pebble beach, perfect for families.
Where to stay: Grawen Caravan And Camping Park, Merthyr Tydfil, Mid Glamorgan, Wales
- Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Found near the village of Carbost on the rugged Isle of Skye, you’ll be blown away by the mystical atmosphere of the Fairy Pools. Fed by a series of waterfalls from the misty Cuillin Mountains, the pools are also a popular tourist attraction for the area. And it’s easy to see why, with the clear waters tinged with green and pink from the surrounding landscape.
Where to stay: Glenbrittle Campsite, Dunvegan, Isle of Skye, Scotland
- Berneray West Beach, Isle of North Uist, Outer Hebrides
While the temperatures won’t reach the standards of a tropical holiday, the white sands and turquoise waters of Berneray make this one of the most beautiful swimming beaches in the UK.
Where to stay: Balranald Hebridean Holidays, Hougharry, North Uist, Outer Hebrides
- Lough Shannagh, Northern Ireland
A truly inspiring location, Lough Shannagh is a wide-open lake surrounded by the stunning Mourne Mountains. Covered in heather and gorse the area is an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Where to stay: Delamont Country Park, County Down, Northern Ireland
Protecting your vehicle with motorhome insurance
If you fancy driving your motorhome to your next wild swimming spot, don’t leave home without ensuring you’ve got the right motorhome insurance policy.
Our bespoke cover can include benefits such as:
- Cover for up to 365 days a year including foreign use
- Cover for vehicles valued up to £150,000
- Enhanced cover for personal effects up to £3,000
- Uncapped mileage cover
- Discounts if you’re a member of a motorhome club
Call Motorhome Protect and get a quote for motorhome insurance today.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.