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Lake District: Best Spots for Cold Water Swimming

the lakes with stones

Looking for the ultimate cold water swimming spots in the Lake District?

From the serene waters of Windermere to the breathtaking Buttermere Infinity Pool, this blog is your gateway to the Lake District’s prime locations for open water swimming.

Whether you’re an experienced swimmer or a curious beginner looking to enjoy your first time outdoor swimming, join us as we explore the hidden gems of the Lake District, where the beauty of nature meets the thrill of adrenaline!

The Lakes offers many idyllic spots to take a dip, from the surrounding fells to the lakeshore. So, grab your dryrobe and wetsuit, and let’s dive into the chilly waters of the Lake District.

Can you open water swim in the Lake District?

You certainly can swim in the Lake District! In fact, it is a popular spot for many outdoor activities, such as cold water swimming.

Many outdoor enthusiasts head to the Lakes for hiking, paddleboarding, swimming, and more. The scenic views, quaint towns, and tasty eateries draw in the crowd.

Keep reading to find the best spots to take an outdoor dip.

Windermere | Lake District National Park

Windermere, nestled in the heart of Lake District National Park, stands as the largest natural lake in England, stretching approximately 11 miles (18 kilometres)!

Renowned for its stunning natural beauty, Windermere offers swimmers the chance to traverse its picturesque shores while enjoying the tranquil waters.

Surrounded by a diverse landscape of woodlands, mountains, and charming villages, Windermere creates an ideal backdrop for various outdoor activities and nature exploration.

The lake offers abundant water-based activities such as open water swimming, boating, kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing. Its expansive size accommodates a variety of water sports and leisurely cruises, allowing visitors to bask in the serenity of Windermere.

Windermere is also home to a rich array of wildlife, including diverse bird species and occasional glimpses of deer and squirrels in the surrounding woodlands. Cold water swimmers might even encounter some wildlife during their aquatic adventures!

The Great North Swim will be taking place on this very lake in June 2024! Get your tickets now.

windermere

Features:

  • Entry Fee: Free (Some lake swimming events may have fees)
  • Location: Ambleside, LA22 0DN
  • Lifeguard: Yes, in designated areas during peak times

Thirlmere Infinity Pool | Lake District National Park

Up next is Thirlmere’s Infinity Pool, which invites cold water swimmers into a truly impressive setting. The walk to the pool is moderate, offering glimpses of dense forests and Lake District mountains.

At an elevated altitude, the crystal clear water beckons swimmers to embrace the unspoiled beauty, providing a peaceful and secluded swim.

Thirlmere is more than a refreshing dip; it’s a chance to unwind in an idyllic spot. The walk reveals remnants of old boathouses, adding a historical touch to your cold water swimming experience.

With no entry fee and located in Keswick (CA12 4TW), this natural oasis lacks lifeguards but is a great place to escape to an area with historical charm.

thirlmere

Features:

  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Location: Keswick, CA12 4TW
  • Lifeguard: No

Buttermere Infinity Pool | Lake District National Park

Another one of our favourite spots in (you guessed it) the Lake District National Park, Buttermere Infinity Pool, offers a captivating cold water swimming experience amidst lush landscapes. Buttermere pool’s pristine waters mirror the iconic Lake District hills, creating an enchanting setting for a refreshing aquatic adventure.

More than a mere dip, this natural oasis invites swimmers to immerse themselves in unspoiled beauty, savouring the calmness and solitude of the lake. Accessible from Ambleside, a scenic walk along Buttermere’s shores introduces glimpses of stunning hills, setting the tone for the adventure.

Temperature-wise, expect cool waters, which are characteristic of Lake District lakes. With no lifeguard on duty at Buttermere infinity pool, safety is key. Take a tow float and wetsuit for added buoyancy and warmth.

Explore the picturesque shores, discover hidden spots, and encounter the historic Rydal Cave nearby, adding mystery and charm to the experience. If you are interested in Lake District waterfalls swimming, you could head over to Scale Force Waterfall by Crummock Water, a mere jump and a leap from Buttermere.

Buttermere Lake and Buttermere Village are other popular spots, so if you are in the area, it is worth extending your trip and exploring the local town!

The Buttermere infinity pool postcode is LA22 9LX, but there are signs to get you to the location from the car park. Please be aware that the final ascent to the pools is slightly steep, so take care.

the lakes

Features:

  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Location: Ambleside, LA22 9LX
  • Lifeguard: No

Wast Water | Lake District National Park

Wast Water, situated in the heart of Lake District National Park, offers a stunning backdrop for swimmers. The specific area of WastWater, known as Wasdale Head, provides a quiet and secluded spot for those seeking a wild swim.

If you want to find secret swimming spots in the Lake District, you may stumble upon a few gems along the footpath.

Surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, you can admire the ever-changing colours of the Lake District landscape, regardless of the season in which you choose to swim.

As always, swimmers should be prepared for cooler temperatures and consider wearing appropriate thermal gear for added comfort. Despite the chilly waters, a refreshing swim in Wast Water can be invigorating, especially during the warmer months.

The seclusion of Wasdale Head enhances the appeal of swimming in Wast Water. Away from the crowds and immersed in the peace of the Lake District scenery, swimmers can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

the lakes on sunset

Features:

  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Location: Gosforth, CA20 1EX
  • Lifeguard: No

Ullswater | Lake District National Park

Ullswater is a popular spot for wild swimming in the Lake District. Specific spots, such as Glencoyne Bay, offer tranquillity and unspoiled waters; you won’t find any litter or rubbish ruining this spot – and let’s keep it this way!

Whenever you go Lake District swimming, or cold water swimming anywhere for that matter, always clear up any rubbish. Protecting these UK spots and keeping the Lakes’s magic alive is crucial!

The water in Ullswater is known for its cool temperatures, which are common to many Lake District lakes. Ease in your outdoor swim slowly, and remember to warm up afterwards to avoid cold water shock.

The peaceful swim in Ullswater offers a chance to connect with nature, surrounded by the impressive landscapes of the Lake District. Saying this, it’s hard to find a cold water swimming spot in the Lakes that doesn’t have impressive views!

ullswater

Features:

  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Location: Penrith, CA11 0JP
  • Lifeguard: No

Derwentwater | Lake District National Park

Derwentwater, another top spot in the Lake District National Park, is a great location for cold water swimming. With its clear waters and breathtaking scenery, Derwentwater provides an idyllic setting for aquatic adventures.

The lake is surrounded by rolling hills and thick forests, creating a breathtaking environment that immerses swimmers. Walk down the grassy path to find heaven on Earth!

Derwentwater is often less crowded compared to more popular spots, which allows enthusiasts to enjoy a much-needed respite from busy routines.

Cold water swimming with kids is a great way to keep the family occupied during the school holidays; however, there is no lifeguard at Derwentwater, so make sure to bring safety equipment, such as flotation devices, to keep the little ones safe.

derwentwater

Features:

  • Entry Fee: Free
  • Location: Keswick, CA12 5DJ
  • Lifeguard: No

Swimming in the Lakes FAQs

How long does it take to walk to the Buttermere infinity pool?

The walk to the Buttermere infinity pool can take up to 30 minutes, depending on your pace and the weather conditions.

For a less crowded starting point, we recommend The Gatesgarth Farm parking lot (postcode: CA13 9XA), which charges around £4 for 24 hours. Free parking near Buttermere Village is an option, but it may be challenging on weekends and during school breaks.

From Gatesgarth Farm, turn left onto Honister Pass, where you’ll spot a sign for Honister House about 150 meters ahead. Follow the well-marked trail along this gravel path with stunning views of Haystacks and Buttermere Lake. After 1.3 kilometres, a grassy path appears on your right; take it and head towards the small bridge ahead.

Cross the bridge, then traverse an unbridged stream. The Buttermere infinity pool is 100 meters from the path junction if you continue on the more challenging trail. The steepest section is the final few hundred meters from the wooden bridge to the pool, but it’s a short ascent.

How long is the Buttermere Circular Walk?

The Buttermere Lake walk is approximately 4.5km long and can take around 2 hours to complete.

You can enjoy the wonderful views from the walk, or if you are an outdoor swimmer or walking on a hot day, you can take a dip in the small pool at the top!

Are lakes safe to swim in?

Swimming in lakes can be safe, but it depends on several factors, such as water quality and currents.

Always consider water quality, as pollution or contamination can pose health risks. Check with local authorities for monitoring information.

It’s crucial to be mindful of depth and temperature, as sudden drops or hidden hazards underwater can be dangerous, and colder temperatures may increase the risk of hypothermia.

Pay attention to currents and tides, especially if the lake is connected to the sea or has rivers flowing in or out. Strong currents can make swimming hazardous.

Additionally, be cautious of algal blooms and harmful aquatic life that may affect water quality and pose risks.

Seek local knowledge and advice from authorities, lifeguards, or residents familiar with the area. They can provide valuable insights into specific hazards and safe swimming spots.

Can you swim in any lake in the Lake District?

While there are numerous lakes suitable for swimming in the Lake District, not all may be safe or appropriate due to factors like water quality, depth, currents, and local regulations.

Access to certain lakes might be restricted or require permission due to private ownership, nature reserves, or other factors.

Always respect any signage and local regulations, and seek information from local authorities or residents to ensure that swimming is allowed and safe in a specific lake.

By considering these factors and obtaining relevant information, you can identify suitable lakes for swimming and enjoy a safe and enjoyable experience in the Lake District’s beautiful waters.

Do you need a wetsuit for wild swimming in the Lake District?

Whether or not you need a wetsuit for wild swimming in the Lake District depends on factors like water temperature, personal tolerance, and safety considerations.

The Lake District’s lakes can be cold, especially in Autumn and Winter, so wearing a wetsuit can provide insulation and maintain body heat, especially for longer swims. It also offers buoyancy and some protection against rocks or obstacles.

However, personal preferences vary; some swimmers may be comfortable without a wetsuit.

Are there undercurrents in lakes in the Lake District?

Undercurrents can exist in certain lakes in the Lake District. The presence and strength of undercurrents can vary depending on the specific lake and its geographical characteristics.

Lakes that are connected to the sea or have rivers flowing into or out of them are more likely to experience undercurrents. Additionally, larger and deeper lakes may have stronger and more complex underwater currents.

It is important to be aware of the potential for undercurrents when swimming in lakes, as they can pose risks, especially for inexperienced or weaker swimmers.

Summary

Cold water swimming in the Lake District offers a thrilling experience in the region’s stunning natural landscapes. With numerous lakes and picturesque settings, the Lake District provides ample opportunities for adventurous swimmers to explore its waters.

Researching water quality, checking for advisories, and avoiding areas affected by pollution or algal blooms are essential for maintaining good health.

Seeking local knowledge and guidance from residents, outdoor organisations, or experienced swimmers can offer valuable insights into safe swimming spots and any specific guidelines.

By embracing the beauty of the Lake District’s wild waters while practising caution and respect for the environment, swimmers can have a memorable and safe experience in this fabulous UK region.