In the north-west of England, located across the counties of Cumbria and Lancashire, is the Lake District. As the name suggests, there are many lakes and bodies of open water in this location. But which ones are the best for swimming in?
You’ve probably heard of some of the popular wild swimming locations in the Lake District like Windermere, Derwentwater, Coniston Water, and Ullswater. Although these are beautiful swimming locations, they often get busy in the summer season with boats and people doing a variety of water sports, as well as swimming.
We’ve compiled this list of quieter open water swimming spots so you can just enjoy your swim and the breathtaking views without constantly having to dodge boats and other people in the water.
It’s important to remember that open water swimming can be very dangerous. To reduce these risks, please ensure you follow safety advice. We would also strongly recommend that you bring a tow float or dry bag and a brightly coloured swim cap with you on your swim. This will make you more visible in the water to watercraft, other swimmers, and rescue teams.
Looking for a smaller, slightly warmer pool with no motorboats? Rydal Water is one of the smallest lakes in the Lake District. With a depth of only 15m and located at a lower altitude, the water here is able to warm up slightly more than other lakes in the area. Surrounded by mountains on all sides of the lake, you’ll have a magnificent view while enjoying your swim.
Full of plunge pools and waterfalls, there are many charming spots along the River Esk that are perfect for a dip in the cool water, including Tongue Pot and Gill Force.
Walk 2 miles along the river from Hardknott Pass and you’ll come across a series of pools. One of these is Tongue Pot which has a small pebble beach and an impressive waterfall. Due to the isolated location of this pool, you’re likely to be able to enjoy the clear emerald waters on your own.
Stanley Ghyll Force
Hidden in a rocky gorge surrounded by dense trees is the beauty of Stanley Ghyll Force. Take a dip in the plunge pool which is located under the 20m high waterfall. However, due to the depth of the plunge pool, the water can get quite chilly.
Cascading down past Stonethwaite to Borrowdale is the Langstrath Valley. Like the River Esk, there are many great wild swimming spots along the valley including Galleny Force and Black Moss Pot.
Also known as the Fairy Glen, Galleny Force is a series of magical waterfalls and pools. The clear water pools are around 30m long, 1.2m deep and surrounded by grassy hills, creating the ideal environment for a summer swim.
Black Moss Pot
Walk a mile upstream from Galleny Force and you’ll find the deeper (and colder) waters of Black Moss Pot. However, this pool can get reasonably busy with swimmers and divers (as well as the occasional skinny-dipper).
Buttermere may be one of the smallest lakes in Cumbria but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in fantastic scenery. Considered one of the best views in the UK, it’s worth trying out - even if it’s just for a quick dip. However, the steepness of the edges of this lake means we would only recommend swimming here if you’re a confident and experienced swimmer.
If you find yourself in the Buttermere area but aren’t confident or experienced enough to swim in the Buttermere, travel a mile north-west and you’ll come across Crummock Water. Like Buttermere, this lake has no watercraft which is great for outdoor swimming. But Crummock Water has a gradual slope into the water from the little beach instead of steep edges. This makes it a lot easier for novice wild swimmers to get in and out of the water and gives them the option of swimming in the shallows while still being able to appreciate the beautiful view.
Finally, do you fancy the challenge of swimming in the deepest lake in England? With a depth of around 79m, Wastwater will give you that challenge. Formed by a glacier, this 3 mile lake is lined with 610m high hills that look like they’re climbing out of the water. However, due to its depth, the water is very cold so we recommend wearing a wetsuit to give you some extra warmth.
Where not to swim
As well as finding the most beautiful places for you to swim in the Lake District, it’s just as important to identify the locations that you aren’t allowed to swim in. Enjoy your time in the Lake District, but make sure you don’t try to swim here:
- Thirlmere Reservoir
- Kentmere Reservoir
- Ennerdale Water