Through the Viewfinder
And What Alice Found There
Wild swimming is quickly becoming one of my favourite hobbies. I’ve always been partial to a little dip in the lake when the weather’s nice but with such a good summer happening at the moment, this year has seen me do my most wild swims to date. Not just a way to cool down in the heat (although it’s perfect for that) wild swimming is exciting, exhilarating and adventurous – all the things I love! Sometimes there really is nothing better than floating on your back in a secret little pool, basking in the sun and enjoying the silence all around. Here you’ll find my favourite places (that I’ve discovered so far) to go for a dip in Cumbria – from secret river pools to lakeside beaches there’s something to suit all tastes!
1. Rydal Water
Rydal was one of the first places I ever went for a real wild swim (not just a paddle) and is still one of my favourites to this day. The area around Rydal and Grasmere is beautiful and is my go-to place for a nice easy walk, but it’s also a magical spot for swimming. Beaches stretch out along the Western shore of the lake, perfect for relaxing on and drying out after your swim. If you venture into the woods you might also find the rope swing hidden amongst the trees. Cling on as you fly out above the water but don’t let go as the water directly below is only paddling depth! Take a few more steps out though and the water quickly deepens – ideal for a summer evening swim!
Ullswater is a favourite with everyone – families going for a picnic, friends having a BBQ, kayakers, canoers, paddle boarders and of course swimmers! The long pebble beaches curve around the lake shore offering ideal sunbathing spots, while the many bays of the lake become perfect swimming spots. You could easily spend a day in this area, stopping ff in the village of Glenridding for a bite to eat before heading back out in the water or relaxing in the sun.
3. Fell Foot
Another favourite is Fell Foot at the southern tip of Lake Windermere. The large grassy park is ideal for sunbathing and picnics, while the shallow waters make it the best place for families to go swimming. If you’re up for it why not swim to the other side of the lake (it’s only narrow so not far for a confident swimmer) and treat yourself to an ice cream back in the park afterwards!
4. Black Moss Pot
Steering away from the family-friendly spots the next on my list is the mighty Black Moss Pot. Nestled in the peaceful Borrowdale Valley this secluded pool along the Langstrath Beck really is a wild swim! Steep rock faces drop into a ravine, with a waterfall and pool at one end and the river continuing out the other side. We got here early morning and had the whole place to ourselves, and it was one of the best wild swims I’ve ever had! No people, roads or buildings in site and just the mountains and Herdy’s for company – bliss! Swim upstream through the narrow ravine to the big pool up ahead and watch as the fish try and jump up the waterfall. Or if you’re feeling brave some people jump off the top of the cliffs into the pool – we didn’t try this but apparently it’s deep enough to do it!
5. Red Tarn
Sitting high up in the mountains with the Helvellyn range looming overhead, Red Tarn has some fantastic and dramatic scenery as it’s backdrop. You could take the direct footpath up to the tarn but the best way to enjoy this spot is after a challenging hike over Striding Edge and back down Swirral Edge, stopping at the tarn for a refreshing swim afterwards! Surprisingly, this was a busy spot when we tried it out, but it was one of the hottest days of the year and I don’t think any passing hikers could resist a swim in that heat!
6. River Lune
Unfortunately for you, I’m not willing to share the exact location of this last swimming spot! It was so quiet, peaceful and so beautifully natural that I’m afraid if more people find out about it, it will be ruined. All I’ll say is that it’s somewhere along the River Lune in the Eden District and it was just the most perfect place that words can’t even do it justice! I clambered down large rocks to a private area screened by cliffs and trees, to discover pebble beaches, wild strawberry plants and emerald green pools shimmering in the sunlight. As my first ever solo swim I was a bit hesitant to get in, just in case something went wrong and there was nobody around to help, but I just couldn’t resist! It was heavenly!
The lakes and tarns around here certainly are beautiful and make great swimming spots, but sometimes it’s best to discover somewhere by chance and have your own adventures, rather than follow what everyone else does. If the main lakeside beaches are busy, why not walk a bit further along and discover a secret bay that nobody else has noticed? You’ll probably have a better time rather than trying to squash into the ‘hotspot’ areas!
And while I love sharing my adventures through this blog, some things a best kept a secret and I’m sure many other wild swimmers out there have their own go-to spots that nobody else knows about! Discovering a new place is all part of the fun and makes it feel even more wild. Where do you like to swim in the Lake District? Or is it a secret?
Check out some of our GoPro footage from our favourite Wild Swims: