Open water swimming and wild swimming have risen in popularity over the recent years as more and more people enjoy swimming outdoors.
The English Lake District, with its stunning landscape of lakes and mountains, is one of the best places in the world for open water swimming and a must-visit for anyone who loves wild swimming. Tick this incredible part of the UK off your bucket-list this year with a visit.
Read on to find out more about the best places to wild swim in the Lake District.
Where to swim in the Lake District
Swimming is very accessible in the Lake District; you can swim in any of the Lakes with the exceptions of those that are reservoirs or are privately owned.
More adventurous wild swimmers will also want to head to the mountain tarns for a more wild or remote experience.
Whichever you choose you'll need a good map to show you the public footpaths for access and, if you are venturing to more remote or higher waters, ensure you have brushed up on your navigation and mountain skills.
Best places for open water swimming in the Lake District…
The most famous of all the lakes, Windermere is a true favourite among open water swimmers and is even home to the annual Great North Swim that takes place early June – why not book a trip that coincides so you can join in?
Throughout the rest of the year, it’s always a wonderful place for open water swimming with lots of quiet spots and plenty of local eateries where you and your friends can refuel after your Lake Windermere swimming.
Where to stay?
Sawrey Stables | Near and Far Sawrey
This pretty country cottage offers stylish décor and sumptuous spaces where you can unwind after swimming in the glistening waters of Lake Windermere.
Complete with views of the lake and surrounding fells, as well as a neutral colour palette and farmhouse-style furnishings, it’s a wonderfully cosy getaway for seven guests and up to three dogs. With lots of walking trails and country pubs nearby, both humans and canine companions will have a fantastic holiday to this charming retreat.
Next door to Windermere and just as popular, Coniston Water is another great place to head to for Lake District swimming. It’s one of the larger lakes and, with miles of shoreline from which to dive in, you’ll be spoilt for choice of wild swimming spots.
During the summer, this place is bustling with travellers exploring the area on land and by boat, yet there’s always a tranquil place to find some tranquillity and enjoy outdoor swimming.
Where to stay?
Bobtail Cottage | Satterthwaite and Grizedale
A quaint country retreat for four, this escape is just right for a romantic retreat or a family getaway near Coniston Water.
Nearby Grizedale is fantastic fun for children and their families with high ropes and woodland walks to explore, while Hawkshead is just down the road and Windermere close by too.
The holiday cottage itself is wonderfully tranquil with white and cream colours allowing it to act as a peaceful space for travellers.
Less well known than the fantastic Windermere and Coniston Water, but just as wonderful a place for open water swimming in the peaceful lake that is Rydal Water.
It’s north of Windermere and just down the road is William Wordsworth's old home of Dove Cottage which gives you an idea of how inspiring this section of the Lake District can be.
Discover this excellent wild swimming spots with a group of friends or just you and your partner and enjoy the serenity of this top open water swimming location in Cumbria.
Where to stay?
Brae Cottage | Ambleside, 2 miles from the waterfront
The open fire and marvellous surround are at the heart of this holiday cottage in the Lake District. Warm and welcoming, this beautiful escape is in a busy and popular village that is well used to catering to visitors.
This gem of a retreat is full country cottage décor and happens to also be just 0.5 miles from Lake Windermere – the perfect chance to swim in two spectacular lakes during your stay!
This wild swimming spot is one of the smaller and lesser-known bodies of water in the Lake District, yet it couldn’t sit in a better location.
With Windermere to the east and Coniston to the west, not the mention the fantastic Hawkshead and Grizedale both nearby, it’s a wonderful location - make sure you stay near Esthwaite Water with your family and friends for an exciting Cumbria holiday.
Where to stay?
Copper Tops | Hawkshead Village 1.5 miles from the waterfront
Right in the heart of popular Hawkshead, you’ll find this beautiful stone holiday cottage. Anyone planning to open water swim in Esthwaite Water should pick out a cottage in Hawkshead as this quaint and characterful little town is full of amenities.
The hideaway itself is bursting with charm as it is a period property and welcomes six humans and two dogs – ideal for a group getaway with the team.
Much further north than the other wonderful Lake District wild swimming spots on our list, Ullswater is the second largest lake in the region offering 9 miles of opportunities for open water swimming in Cumbria.
Dive in with family and friends and take in towering fells that surround you while enjoying that feeling of escape. Once you are refreshed and ready to warm up, head to Pooley Bridge for hearty pub grub in one of the local eateries.
Where to stay?
Rockery House Cottage | Shap, 15 miles from the waterfront
Warm up in this characterful holiday cottage in over in Shap. It’s ultra-stylish with plenty of beautiful detailing inside and out, and this stone cottage welcomes four guests and one canine companion – perfect for a family or group of mates on their travels.
Cosy up in the magnificent armchairs around a roaring wood burner after days of wild swimming and walking this breathtaking apt of the Lake District.
Safe swimming in the Lake District
Whether swimming in a lake or smaller tarn, using your common sense and a bit of prior planning will ensure a safer swim.
Some good advice includes making yourself as visible as possible in the water, choose the smaller Lakes with less boat traffic, take a friend, check out your get in and exit points.
Swim within your own capabilities and consider the effect of cold on your body. Think about wearing a wetsuit and taking extra warm layers of clothing to put on afterwards.
For even more outdoor adventures in the Lake District, check out our guide to the best adrenaline-fuelled activities the National Park has to offer.