The Best Wild Swimming Locations in Hampshire

Open water swimming has increased in popularity over the last few years, with much of this increase due to the restrictions on swimming pools during the Covid lockdowns. Many people fell in love with the invigorating thrill of wild swimming, and as the summer approaches you may be searching for the best places to go out for a relaxing swim. Here we have compiled the best spots for a cooling swim in Hampshire. 

Remember, when open water swimming it’s important to always be aware of the dangers of the water and know how to stay safe.

Sea Swimming

Southsea Beach

  • Location: Southsea, Portsmouth
  • Supervised?: In summer
  • Beach type: Shingle

With just under 4 miles of beach stretching from Old Portsmouth to Eastney, Southsea beach is a beautiful location for a quick dip. This beach is lifeguarded during the summer months between the Pyramids and Eastney Beach making this the safest place to swim along this stretch. When swimming here (and off any beach), it's always important to look out for any warning signs and to swim between the red and yellow flags.

There are some areas on Southsea Beach which aren’t recommended for swimming. Make sure you avoid swimming at Blue Reef Aquarium and Hovertravel. Another warning about swimming at Southsea Beach is that the beach rapidly slopes into the sea, meaning the water can get quite deep quite quickly. Therefore, you should stay quite close to the shore unless you’re a more experienced swimmer and prepared for the colder deep water.

Milford Beach

  • Location: Milford-on-Sea
  • Supervised?: No
  • Beach type: Shingle/sand

In the New Forest area of Hampshire is Milford Beach. Although you can swim along the stretch of this beach, we recommend swimming near the car park at Hurst Road and near the car park at Hordle Cliff West. Not only are these spots convenient for parking, but they are the best spots on the beach for swimming with great views across to the Isle of Wight. 

However, there are no lifeguards at this beach and swimming here can be dangerous as the waves can get quite big, quite quickly. As is the case with swimming at any location, it’s especially important to check the weather and sea conditions here before getting into the water.

Tanners Lane

  • Location: Lymington
  • Supervised?: No
  • Beach type: Salt-marshes

Also in the New Forest area is the swimming spot off Tanners Lane. This spot is popular for sea swimming as it has a gentle slope into the sea. However, there isn’t a beach here. Instead this swimming location is next to salt-marshes. Therefore, it’s only possible to swim here at high tide due to it being too muddy and too far a walk to get to the water. 

There aren’t any facilities at this location and no lifeguards so you need to be extra careful when swimming here. We also recommend wearing swim shoes at this spot to make it easier and more comfortable for you to get in and out of the water.

Lake Swimming

Ellingham Lake

  • Location: Ringwood
  • Price: £7.50
  • Swim course length: 400m, 750m, & 1200m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Bright coloured swim cap and a wetsuit or tow float/bag

From April to October, Ellingham Water Ski and Wakeboard Club runs open water swimming sessions at Ellingham Lake. Whether you’re looking for a quick dip or a longer swim, at Ellingham novices and experts are welcome for any length of swim. If you want to swim loops, there is a good range of different distance circuits including 400m, 750m, and 1200m.

To swim here, you will need to have a membership with NOWCA so that you can pre-book using the Actio app and use the NOWCA wristband on your swim. No induction is required, however private coaching sessions are available if you’re new to open water swimming, not confident in the water, or just want to work on your technique.

Andark Lake

  • Location: Southampton
  • Price: £7
  • Swim course length: 100m
  • Supervised?: No
  • Requirements: Bright coloured swim cap, tow float/bag (after sunset and in water under 15 degrees), & light (after sunset)

Andark Lake is the size of an Olympic swimming pool with a designated circuit of 100m. Although this isn’t a large loop, it gives you the opportunity to swim a distance of your choice. Where other venues give you a choice of a set couple of distances, with this loop you have the opportunity to personalise the distance you do by doing as many 100m laps as you want.

There is a gentle sloping beach for easy entry into and out of the lake. This venue also has great on site facilities including changing facilities, lockers, toilets, showers, and a cafe. Ideal for warming up after a refreshing dip.

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