The Best Wild Swimming Spots in Devon

Many people are swapping their same old boring laps of a swimming pool for the natural beauty and the refreshing health benefits of open water swimming. And where better to enjoy the hobby then in the stunning county of Devon. With two coasts including the Jurassic Coast towards the East of the county, there are plenty of beaches to explore. But Devon is more than just beaches. They also have a range of lakes and rivers that are ideal for wild swimming. But where should you go for your next swim? We’ve compiled this list of the best Devon wild swimming spots to help you choose.

Wild Swimming Safety Equipment

  • Tow Float/Dry Bag - Making you as visible as possible to watercraft and rescue teams, these floats are essential for safety in the water. 
  • Swim cap - As well as increasing your visibility in the water, swim hats also help to keep you warm in the cold water.
  • Wetsuit - Especially important if you’re swimming in the winter months, wetsuits create a layer of warmer water around you to protect you from the cold open water.
  • Whistle and light - In an emergency, quickly and efficiently drawing attention to yourself can be the difference between life and death. Therefore, we recommend attaching a whistle and light to your float.

Check out our blog to discover more about safety when wild swimming.

Anstey’s Cove

Location: Torquay

With crystal clear calm waters, whether you’re an experienced or novice open water swimmer, this beach is the perfect place to take to the water for a sea swim. For beginner wild swimmers who would like some support from an instructor on their first few sea swims, coasteering experiences are available to build confidence. Anstey’s Cove is also a good place to combine your swim with a bit of snorkelling to make the most of the aquatic wildlife, from plants and seaweed to fish and sometimes an occasional seal. Make the most of these beautiful sights but remember that the fish and seals are wild animals and need to be treated with respect.

Sharrah Pool

Location: Holne

A secret outdoor swimming location (that’s not so secret) is Sharrah Pool. Hidden in Holne Woods, the 100m long pool in the River Dart is an enchanted magical place to swim in the fresh, deep, cold, flowing water. There is so much to enjoy here with a little waterfall to explore, a grassy area for a picnic, and granite stones for sunbathing. Although this swim spot is usually slow flowing, we don’t recommend swimming here after heavy rain as, like with any river, this can cause the river to speed up and be dangerous. To get to Sharrah Pool, it’s best to park at Newbridge and take a leisurely wander along the 2 mile walk upstream through the ancient trees of Holne Woods. Make sure you wear good footwear for the walk.


Location: Staverton

The River Dart also flows through the village of Staverton with a warmer area of the river running past Staverton Railway Station. Simply walk down the path from the station for 350m and you’ll reach an area of the river that’s perfect for doing some swimming laps. The wild swimming water above the weir is deep, slow flowing, and dark due to the shade of the high trees along the riverside. However, one thing you need to be careful of when swimming in this section of the river is a rock that is hidden under the water.

South Milton Sands

Location: Near Thurlestone

On the south coast of Devon, not far from Salcombe and Kingsbridge, is South Milton Sands. From a beachside cafe and public toilets to a large car park right next to the beach, this National Trust beach has all the convenient facilities you need for a great day by the sea. This beach has a lot to offer to both experienced and beginner sea swimmers with many interesting areas to explore in the water. Swimming here at high tide is best as you’ll have the opportunity to swim the 200m loop from the shore, under the arch of Thurlestone Rock, and back to the shore. There’s also a reef near Thurlestone Rock, so make sure you wear goggles or bring a snorkel to get the most out of your swim and the local environment.

Sugary Cove

Location: Dartmouth

Last but not least is the charming quiet Sugary Cove at the mouth of the River Dart. Just 1 mile walk from the heart of Dartmouth town and just round the corner from Dartmouth Castle, this beach is in a great location while avoiding the crowds and busyness of other beaches in the area. At this cove, it’s just you, the seals, and the occasional dog walker. Combine your swim with a picnic on the grassy area just above the beach.

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