Fancy experiencing what nature has to offer in God’s own country? Yorkshire is split into multiple counties due to its size, from the coasts of the East riding of Yorkshire to the cities of South, West, and North Yorkshire. Across the width and breadth of Yorkshire, there are many stunning wild swimming locations to enjoy. But we wanted to share with you our favourites.
Wild Swimming Equipment
When heading out for your open water swim in the Yorkshire countryside, it’s vital that you’re aware of safety advice, you bring the right equipment, and you check weather and water conditions (for example, river swimming after heavy rain is dangerous).
Things to bring with you:
- Items to increase visibility - When you’re more visible in the water, watercraft are more likely to avoid you and rescue teams will be able to find you quicker in an emergency. Therefore, it’s essential that you wear a brightly coloured tow float or dry bag and swim cap.
- Warm clothing - To reduce the risks associated with the cold water temperatures, we recommend wearing a wetsuit and a swimming cap to provide some warmth in the water. It’s also important to bring warm clothing with you to change into after your swim. For example, a warm hat and a jumper.
- Location: Linton/Grassington
The River Wharfe runs between the villages of Linton and Grassington with a number of weirs and waterfalls around the Linton Falls area. The best place for swimming here is above the higher weir. While you’re swimming, the kids can have fun sliding down the smooth chute near the ruined millhouse (make sure you bring the inflatables). Combine your swim with a leisurely wander down the river to see the ancient 12th century church and enjoy hopping across the stepping stones to the other side of the river.
- Location: Threshfield
Upstream from Grassington Weir, past station road bridge, just before the bend in the river, you’ll find Ghaistrill’s Strid. This rocky area of the river has some rapids which are fun but can be dangerous so be careful. The main swimming area is below the rapids with a good size area of water to get in some laps. It’s also worth bringing your snorkel to explore the rocks around the river edge and riverbed.
- Location: Todmorden
Our next wild swimming spot is the reservoir of Gaddings Dam near the Lancashire border in West Yorkshire. With a small sandy area referred to as Todmorden Beach, the water is easy to enter and exit. However, due to the reservoir being high up in the moorland, the water tends to be a bit chillier and there is a steep uphill walk to reach the water, but the stunning views across Yorkshire are well worth it.
To get to Gaddings Dam, you can take several routes. The first is to park near Shepherd’s Rest Inn (but not in their car park). However, parking here is very limited and you’ll need to ensure you’re not blocking the narrow road for buses and emergency vehicles. This route has also started to develop some erosion so walkers are being advised to take other routes.
The route we suggest taking is a 4.5mile walk up to the reservoir from Walsden. Parking is easier here as you can park on one of the village side streets before walking along Birks Lane to Hollingworth Lane before turning onto Salter Rake Gate and following the footpath through the moorland.
Wain Wath Waterfall
- Location: Keld
In North Yorkshire, nestled within the Yorkshire Dales National Park, is our favourite outdoor swimming location. Wain Wath Waterfall is a 3m high waterfall with a beautiful plunge pool that is wide, deep, and calm enough to enjoy swimming laps around. The rocky beach on the waterside opposite the waterfall makes it easy to access the water (make sure you bring some swimming shoes) and there’s also a grassy area for picnics. When this spot isn’t too busy, you can park in one of the spaces on the side of the road, just a 30 second walk away from the pool.