Outdoor swimming has seen a boom in popularity since the closures of swimming pools during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Since the world has started to open up again, the hobby has continued to grow with people looking to explore different swimming spots. In this blog, the spotlight is on wild swimming in Bristol. Home to the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the annual balloon fiesta, the south-western area of Bristol offers a range of delightful outdoor swimming locations. Let us take you through our favourites.
*Remember that open water can be dangerous. To reduce these dangers it’s important to follow safety advice and use the right safety equipment.*
West Country Water Park
- Location: North Bristol
- Price: £5-8
- Swim course length: 100m (winter) & 500m (summer)
- Supervised?: Yes
- Requirements: Bright coloured swim cap & wetsuit or tow float/dry bag
Open all year round, West Country Water Park is an 11 acre lake with clean water, useful facilities, and the ideal set up for wild swimming. With changing rooms, toilets, hot showers, and RSLL trained lifeguards, not only is it safer to swim here than non-supervised venues, you will also have the convenience of the facilities to help you warm up after your swim.
The cost per swim depends on when you go for a dip, with an off-peak swim costing £5 and a high-peak swim costing £8. When you swim will also determine the swim circuit you can do, with the 500m loop only available in summer and the 100m loop available in winter. If you’re swimming in the winter, we recommend wearing a wetsuit (as well as a tow float/dry bag) to provide a layer of protection against the cold water. Wetsuits are available for hire at this venue.
If you’re training for a swimming challenge or competition, or swimming for the exercise or health benefits, the West Country Water Park supervised swim sessions will meet (and exceed) your needs. But if you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous, fun, and community based, West Country Water Park can offer that too with their water toys sessions, full moon night swims, and their charity fancy dress swims. There really is something here for everyone.
For a wild swimming venue located a bit further out of Bristol and into the countryside, check out Cromhall Quarry. This flooded limestone quarry covers 4 hectares and has depths of 17m. Swimming here is only allowed along the marked swim circuit and you’ll need to wear either a full wetsuit or use a tow float or dry bag (you could be extra safe and wear both a wetsuit and a float). After your swim you can make use of the changing tent and enjoy some refreshments.
- Location: Pensford
- Supervised?: No
The River Chew flows just south of Bristol, from the villages of Chew Magna to Keynsham. On its journey through the countryside, the River Chew passes through the village of Pensford. Although you can walk along the riverside footpath for the duration of the river with a range of swimming spots, we recommend the swimming spot in Pensford. Next to the Rising Sun pub is a charming outdoor swimming spot that makes the most of the views of the arched viaduct, the delicate stone bridge, and the small trickling waterfall. With both shallower areas for kids to play and deeper areas for adults to swim, this swim spot is a great day out for all the family. You can also enjoy a nice cool drink at the pub after your summer swim.
Clevedon Marine Lake
- Location: Clevedon
- Supervised?: No
The final open water swimming spot on this list isn’t 100% wild, but it’s close enough. Clevedon Marine Lake is a tidal pool on the Somerset coast looking across the Bristol Channel towards Cardiff and Newport. The 200m lake is filled with saltwater which is regularly topped up by the channel during high tides and is regularly tested to ensure it is safe for swimming. Although the water can be quite cold, it is free to swim here and it’s worth the refreshing water temperature to see the water turn pink and red as the sun sets.