The best wild swimming spots near London
London has an incredible number of outdoor swimming spots which are usually popular all year round, and especially so during the heat of summer! You might be familiar with lidos, but have you given wild swimming a go? There are plenty of picturesque open water swimming lakes and rivers to take a refreshing dip, within easy reach by car from London.
Divers Cove Reservoir, Godstone
This open water swimming venue in Surrey was quick to adapt to social distancing regulations in order to reopen in time for summer. With a maximum capacity of 40 swimmers per hour, you’ll need to pre-book tickets and arrive promptly, but it’s worth getting organised to enjoy this delightful beauty spot! Be sure to read the guidelines on the Divers Cove website when you book.
Distance from London: 20 Miles
River Colne, Rickmansworth
If you’re longing to escape to the countryside but don’t want to travel too far, the River Colne awaits. This wild swimming spot is located on a six-mile circular walk around Rickmansworth Aquadrome, which feels much more rural than its location within the M25 would have you believe. The swimming spot is just after the footpath from Bury Lake meets the River Colne. It’s fast moving water but fairly shallow – perfect for a paddle if you don’t fancy braving the plunge!
Distance from London: 30 miles
River Wey, Artington
With a stone bridge, a small weir and slow-moving water shallow enough to paddle in, the River Wey is an idyllic spot to cool off on a sunny day. Follow the river downstream to find a more secluded spot and spend the day relaxing on the grass, or head upriver to find deeper water for a proper swim.
Distance from London: 32 miles
River Medway, Kent
If you’ve ever fancied wild swimming in Kent, the River Medway is the perfect place. On the northern border of High Weald AONB, the River Medway just south of Leigh offers an open stretch of river that catches the sun. Although the banks are quite steep, the water is deep enough for a good swim, and the footpath follows the riverbank for some way, so you can find the perfect spot for a dip.
Distance from London: 40 miles
Frensham Great Pond, Surrey
If you’d love to spend a day at the beach but don’t fancy the crowds at the South Coast, Frensham Great Pond could be the answer. This man-made beach is as sandy as they come, and the pond itself is perfect for a dip to cool off in the heat of the day! Although the café is still closed, the toilets have reopened.
Distance from London: 46 miles
In Shillingford, the River Thames marks the boundary of the North Wessex Downs, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with plenty of opportunities to swim along the way. The river is quite wide and deep, with a path on the southern banks offering plenty of opportunities for walkers to explore.
Distance from London: 50 miles
Between the picturesque town of Grantchester and the historic city of Cambridge, you can take a dip in the River Cam. This section of the river is deep enough to dive and jump into in some parts, but be warned, it can be muddy! The meadows that give the area its name are perfect for a picnic while you dry off in the sunshine, and just 30 minutes on foot into the centre of Cambridge if you fancy exploring the sights.
Distance from London: 60 miles
Stay safe when swimming in open water
If you’re new to wild swimming, we advise readers to follow The Royal Life Saving Society guidance on open water swimming, and read the Wild Swimming for Beginners guide to stay safe and have an enjoyable swim.