The Best Places for Outdoor Swimming in Norfolk

The county of Norfolk on the east coast of England is known for its beautiful coast, charming towns, and extensive waterways. This makes it an ideal part of the UK to explore for wild swimming. With winding rivers, pretty lakes, and lovely beaches, you’re never too far away from your next favourite outdoor swimming spot.

However, it is important to note that outdoor swimming does have its dangers. Make sure you are aware of safety advice before venturing out into open water.


Little Ouse River

  • Location: Santon Downham
  • Supervised?: No

Park up in Santon Downham and wander down to St Helen’s picnic site and you’ll find a couple of sandy beach areas to enter the Little Ouse River. With the ability to swim in either direction for miles, whether you’re looking for a quick dip while on your picnic or a longer river swim, you’ll love this beautiful tree-lined stretch of water.

River Bure

  • Location: Wroxham
  • Supervised?: No

At Caen Meadow in Wroxham there is a little sandy beach area that gently slopes into the River Bure, ideal for popping into the river for a wild swim. As this swim spot is next to a meadow, it’s another place where you can combine your swim with a family picnic or even a dog walk.

Something to be aware of at this swim location is that boats sail up and down this river. Therefore, we strongly recommend wearing a bright coloured swim cap and a tow float or dry bag to make you more visible to boats around you, ultimately increasing your safety in the water. 

River Tas

  • Location: Shotesham Ford
  • Supervised?: No

If you’re looking for a river that has an area for paddling and an area for swimming, you’re looking for the River Tas at Shotesham Ford. Let the kids enjoy a cooling dip in the paddling area of the river while you have a swim in the deeper pool in the middle of the river. Although the area for swimming here is small, you can do a couple of laps around the deeper section - It’s worth it for the magic of the overhanging trees and the convenience of the shallower paddling area.

River Wensum

  • Location: Anderson’s Meadow, Norwich
  • Supervised?: No

Anderson’s Meadow in the city centre of Norwich is bordered on the south side of the park by the River Wensum. The best place to enter this river is off the slipway opposite the Eagle Canoe pub. But be aware that the current in the River Wensum can be strong so we only recommend swimming here if you are a confident and experienced river swimmer. 

We also recommend staying safe by swimming with other people. Don’t know anyone who likes to go for a wild swim? You can join the Norfolk and Norwich Swimmers Club who enjoy wild swims along the River Wensum.


Fairhaven Water Gardens

  • Location: South Walsham
  • Price: £24 annual membership
  • Swim course length: 200m & 400m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Brightly coloured swim cap & tow float/bag

Fairhaven Water Gardens covers 130 acres of beautiful woodland and water with access to the South Walsham Broads. With Fairhaven Gardens annual membership (costing £24), you can swim as often as you want at the supervised swim sessions for no extra cost. When you first swim here, the team will need to assess that you can safely swim unaided. Once signed off, you are free to swim the 200m or 400m circuits around the waters.

Whitlingham Country Park

  • Location: Norwich
  • Price: £5
  • Swim course length: 75m, 400m, & 800m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Brightly coloured swim cap & wetsuit

If you’re looking for an open water swimming venue to train for a triathlon rather than just recreational swimming, the lake at Whitlingham Country Park is the place for you. The summer swim sessions here are run by Tri-Anglia for triathlon training. Training sessions are £5 and must be pre-booked, giving you access to the 75m, 400m, and 800m swim circuits. Hot drinks are available after your swim, however you will need to bring your own cup.

To swim here, you will need a swim cap. However, Tri-Anglia uses a colour coded swim cap system so you need to pick the right colour cap. For example, junior or novice swimmers must wear a purple cap, swimmers with permission not to wear a wetsuit must wear a bright green cap, and regular swimmers must wear a red cap. If you’re unsure what colour swim cap you should be wearing, contact Tri-Anglia.


With 90 miles of Norfolk coastline, there are plenty of stunning beaches to explore. But which ones are best for sea swimming? For safety, we always recommend swimming at beaches supervised by a lifeguard. The Norfolk beaches with lifeguards that we particularly love are Cromer, Sheringham, and Mundesley, all of which have nearby cafes for a warming drink after your swim.

When swimming in the sea, it’s important to be aware of currents. Check out our blog on rip-currents and how to escape them.

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