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6 of the best wild swimming spots around London

Published: 05/11/2020

Wild swimming is often referred to as open water swimming; it's swimming in natural water as opposed to a swimming pool.

You can't beat diving, head-first, into some of London's under-the-radar wild swimming spots on a boiling hot day. It has a positive impact on mental health and gives us focus on our key senses and surroundings. The splish-splosh of water and the sounds of coots chattering and ducklings chirping, makes us happier and calmer.

Here is our guide to a selection of the best wild swimming spots to splash around in:

Hampstead Heath Ponds

These three fantastic 250-year-old swimming ponds are in the middle of London's most iconic wild, hilly heaths (one pond is for men, one lilypad fringed pond is for women, and the other for mixed bathing). They are enclosed by densely packed trees, making you forget that you're actually in the city. So, shake off the smog and take a dip in these cool waters and enjoy a slice of nature.

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Serpentine Lido

This is London's most civilised wild swimming spots. For a decade, the Serpentine Lido has been home to Londoners in need of an escape from the city. It's the oldest swimming club in London, framed by the open green features of Hyde Park. The lido offers visitors a bracing dip in the swan-crowded Serpentine, followed by the chance to chill out and recline on a deck chair. However, it's only available to members at the moment.

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River Wey, Surrey

Surrey's River Wey is the place to wild swim, and it's close to London. You can breaststroke until your heart's content through the English countryside, past grazing cows, and under medieval bridges.

Join at Guildford for a sandy beach that slopes down to the west bank of the river and for those looking for deeper water upriver, check out the life-saving buoy used to mark the wild swimming area.

Frensham Pond, Surrey

Frensham Ponds are stunning. They are surrounded by heathland, wildlife, and walking trails and make for an ideal summer day trip from London.

The two ponds: The Great Pond, has a large sandy beach, and the Little Pond, has more charm and plenty of its picnic spots. It gets very busy when it's hot.

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Royal Docks, East London

With the backdrop of Docklands, and Emirates Air cable cars overhead, this is a prime spot for stressed City slickers. The water is tested fortnightly and results suggest it's as clean as blue-flag beaches.

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West Reservoir, Hackney

This open water swimming spot is a tranquil place in east London. As well as a proper splish splash place, kayaks and sailing are also permitted.

This is a favourite wild swimming spot with London's younger, arty crowd. It may be in the city, but it's far removed from the skyscrapers which you can only just spot peeking above the bushes. Low-hanging trees and shady banks make this the perfect picnic spot.  

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Beckenham Place Park swimming lake

London's first purpose-built swimming lake. This beautiful park has an outstanding lake with Swimming and Boating areas. The lake was reinstated in 2019 by Lewisham Council as part of the historic restoration of the Park. It is based on the Original Georgian lake that once stood when John Cater owned the property back in the early 20th Century.

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For more information on the hazards you might face and for maps guiding you to the best swim spots, head over to wildswim.com


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