Category: Outdoor pursuits

The 12 Best Wild Swimming Places in the Lake District

The Lake District is great for many things, from its beautiful little towns to some of the best mountains in the country and of course, the many famous lakes that are dotted around the national park.

Over the years the Lake District has become an increasingly popular destination for tourists seeking an adventure holiday, with thousands flocking here to camp, hike, bike, and swim. With so many impressive bodies of water, it’s no surprise that the Lakes are an incredibly popular location for wild swimming; an activity that has hugely increased in popularity in recent years.

If you’re planning on taking a dip in the wild when you visit the national park, we’ve picked out the best spots for wild swimming below.

Wild Swimming at Wastwater 

Situated in the Wasdale Valley in Cumbria, Wastwater is 3 miles long and has a sheer ruggedness about it. The lake was originally formed by a glacier and is tucked away quietly within the valley, making this the perfect secluded spot for those looking to wild swim in private.

An impressive depth of 260 feet makes Wastwater the deepest out of all of England’s lakes. With such a huge expanse of water, you’re unlikely to have to share your wild swimming spot with too many other enthusiasts.

The northern tip of the Wastwater is at Wasdale Head, which is popular among walkers because of its brilliant local pub. Wastwater is also very close to Scafell Pike, one of the more challenging mountains to climb in the Lake District with an ascent of 1070 metres. So if you are out hiking, this lake is a great spot to stop and take a dip to cool off!   

Wild Swimming at Black Moss Pot

Surrounded by stunning rocky fells on all sides and situated in the Langstrath Valley, Black Moss Pot is another great location to take a swim in the Lake District. With rocks towering over the water at 6 metres high, some thrill-seekers enjoy jumping from these and plunging into the pool. 

You have two options for swimming at Black Moss Pot. At one end there is a waterfall where the pool is very deep and unsuitable for less confident swimmers, whilst at the other end, there is a nice shallow spot, for those who just want to paddle.

The water at Black Moss Pot is notorious for being very cold, so we advise that you ease yourself in. However, on a warm sunny day, the temperature will pick up slightly for those who are looking for a more leisurely swim! 

If you want to take a trip to Black Moss Pot, there’s a 2-mile walk from Stonethwaite village that takes you to the popular wild swimming spot.

Wild Swimming at Galleny Force

In the heart of the Lake District, you will find Galleny Force, situated near the stunning tourist town of Keswick. Galleny Force, which is also referred to by many as Fairy Glen, consists of a series of streams and waterfalls with two large pools of water set about 200 metres apart that are roughly 30 metres long and 1.2 metres deep. 

With grassy hills surrounding the water’s edge, this is a perfect place to set up a picnic and spend the day here with the family. It’s also a great place to take your kid’s wild swimming, as the water is relatively shallow and calm.

Wild swimming isn’t the only attractive thing about this place; the scenery and nearby walking opportunities make it an ideal location for a perfect day in the Lake District. To access Galleny Force, you can park in Stonethwaite village and walk along the beck, the walk is about a mile and is a lovely way to explore the surrounding area.   

Wild Swimming at Rydal Water 

When seeking out the best swimming spots in the Lake District, Rydal Water is one not to miss! Located in between the two popular towns of Grasmere and Ambleside, you can stroll through the little villages as they have lots of cafes and shops to try, which makes this a great spot if you’re looking for other things to do as well as taking a dip. 

Rydal is one of the smaller, shallower lakes in Cumbria. At 15 metres deep and only 1 mile long, this lake is one of the first to warm up in the summer season, making it a great place to come if you’re new to wild swimming and not quite as hardy as more experienced enthusiasts.

The flat rocks around the edge of Rydal Water make it easy for wild swimmers to get in and out of the lake. Before or after your swim, you can continue your adventure with a visit to Rydal Cave, which is another fun way to explore this area. 

Wild Swimming at the Tongue Pot at Eskdale 

As the River Esk meets Lingcove Beck in Eskdale, you will find Tongue Pot, which is just one of a series of pools in this area. This spot offers a day full of adventure, adrenaline and great swimming, with rocks rising 5 metres above the water providing the perfect platform from which to jump into the pool.

Known for being one of the best top-secret spots in the Lake District, Tongue Pot has beautifully clear waters that are ideal for wild swimming, along with an impressive waterfall and a stunning backdrop consisting of grassy knolls, rugged rocks and towering trees.

Tongue Pot feels like the most secluded little hideaway for those who are looking to enjoy their swim in a tranquil setting. With rugged rocks surrounding the water and stunning views of the idyllic countryside at every turn, you couldn’t wish for much more whilst you swim in the wild.

Wild Swimming in Ullswater 

At an impressive 7.5 miles long, Ullswater is known for being the second largest lake in the Lake District. As well as the swimming opportunities, the lake also offers paddleboarding and kayaking, so on sunny days, you’ll see plenty of people in and out on the water.

Ullswater is one of the busier wild swimming places in the Lake District, so it might be useful to plan ahead of time, or perhaps arrive early to ensure you get a good spot by the lake. There are several different wild swimming spots to choose from, so even on busy days, you should be able to find somewhere relatively quiet. 

Wild Swimming in Derwentwater

Derwentwater is about 3 miles long and has plenty of great access points dotted around the water. At maximum depth, this lake can go down as far as 72 feet, but there are plenty of shallower spots closer to the shore that offer ideal conditions for wild swimming. 

This popular spot isn’t just a favourite among locals; it’s also the number one outdoor swimming place for Keswick Mountain Festival, which hosts 2 swim events as well as triathlons each year at Derwentwater. The rest of the time it’s a very popular place for tourists and locals to swim, boat, paddleboard and kayak, there is always something going on at the lake which makes it a great swimming spot with a bustling atmosphere.  

As boats use Derwentwater, it is advised that you swim with a bright float if you’re on your own, so that you can be spotted by other lake users. 

Something really exciting about Derwentwater is Derwent Island. This tiny islet is owned by the National Trust and currently occupied by a family living in the grand home on the island, which opens once a year to visitors. It might be best to book your trip to Derwentwater around this exciting excursion to Derwent Island.

Wild Swimming at Lake Windermere

Windermere is perhaps the most popular tourist attraction in the Lake District. It’s one of the best-known lakes in the national park, not only because of the beautiful lakeside scenery but also because the busy town of Windermere is just up from the shore, home to plenty of shops, restaurants and other attractions.

As the longest lake in England, Windermere is a great spot for those looking to truly immerse themselves in the wonders of wild swimming in the Lake District. After the Great North Swim took place on the lake in 2008, it was put on the map as a prime spot for open water swimming and has been attracting enthusiasts ever since.

It is best to swim at the Waterhead end of Lake Windermere as parking is very close to the water which makes it easy to park up, shimmy into your wetsuit and get straight into the water! For a more peaceful swim, head towards the west bank of the lake, as the east side tends to be busier with boats. 

Plenty is going on around Lake Windermere to keep you occupied after you’ve gone for a dip, with many tourists choosing to come here to partake in activities such as wakeboarding, sailing, or a lake cruise. Around Windermere, you’ll also find some of the Lake Districts’ best little towns including Bowness, Windermere and Ambleside. 

Wild Swimming at Crummock Water

Situated close to Buttermere Lake, Cumbria, you will find Crummock Water. This quiet wild swimming spot is great for those looking for a little seclusion. As the entry spots for swimmers into the water can be slightly limited, this lake is generally quiet which means that you will more than likely have the whole lake to yourself.  

Being only 5 miles end to end means that there is no boat traffic on Crummock Water, which makes it a great spot for swimmers who don’t want to be disturbed whilst they’re out in the water. 

As the water temperature can get quite chilly, it is best to visit the lake for a swim in the summer months of July or August, when the water will be warmer which makes for a more comfortable swimming experience. After you’ve had a dip in Crummock Water, you can then head off to find the impressive 170-foot Scale Force, which is the tallest single-drop waterfall in the Lakes.

Wild Swimming at Buttermere 

Surrounded by stunning hills and forests, the scenery at Buttermere is utterly breathtaking. The water is crystal clear and is surrounded by small, rocky beaches where you can leave your belongings and relax by the water after your swim.

The area in which Buttermere is located has been nominated numerous times for having the best views in the UK, so it’s certainly one of the most beautiful places to go wild swimming in the Lake District. The lake itself is about 3 miles end-to-end, which makes it a great size for more confident swimmers who want to tackle the whole distance end-to-end.

With little to no boats on Buttermere, this lake provides a very quiet environment for wild swimming. In some places, this lake can get up to 23 metres deep, so Buttermere is not suitable for beginners or children as the deep underwater shelving around the lake may create difficult and dangerous conditions.

You will find a few laybys scattered around the lake which are great for parking and walking to Buttermere. It is best to plan ahead when visiting, especially in summer when parking becomes more restricted.

Wild Swimming at Stanley Gill Force, Lower Eskdale 

Another great wild swimming spot in the Lake District is Stanley Gill Force. This secluded pool is much smaller than the other lakes on our list, but is by no means less impressive.

With a captivating waterfall flowing down the rugged rocks and dense trees lining the water’s edge, this feels like somewhere that you’d find in a fairytale. The flora and fauna make Stanley Gill Force feel like a beautiful tropical paradise in the summer, so it’s a truly idyllic spot to escape to and enjoy immersing yourself in nature. 

The water here can get very cold, so be sure to have plenty of warm layers on hand for when you get out of the pool. We recommend visiting in the summer when the water isn’t quite as chilly, but if you’re used to colder temperatures then it’s a great spot if you don’t want to be disturbed in the spring and autumn.

Wild Swimming at Coniston Water 

Coniston Water is surrounded by stunning views of rolling hills, thick green trees and crystal clear waters. The gentle shelving surrounding the edge of the water makes it a safe swimming location, great for kids and beginners.

This lake offers some great little beaches on the water’s edge, situated between Hoathwaite and Coniston Hall. These small stretches of sand are great spots to set up a picnic and spend the whole day by the lake with your family or friends. 

With its stunning backdrop and great location, Coniston Water can get very busy, especially on days when the weather is hot and sunny. If you want to secure a spot by the lake then we recommend you arrive as early as possible or schedule a swim at dusk when most of the tourists are likely to be heading home.


Wild swimming is a hobby that more and more people are developing an interest in, and the Lake District is one of the most popular places in the UK to try it out. After reading through our top wild swimming recommendations above, we hope you can now plan your trip to this stunning part of the country with all the best places in mind. 

If you are planning a trip or wild swimming excursion to the Lake District, Independent Cottages offers a stunning selection of holiday cottages. You can explore our collection here.

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