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Manchester: Best spots for cold water swimming

Manchester: Best spots for cold water swimming

As the temperatures drop, many people might be looking for ways to stay active and explore new outdoor activities.

Cold water swimming has become a popular choice for those seeking a thrilling and invigorating experience, with many benefits to both physical and mental health.

Greater Manchester is home to several fantastic spots for cold water swimming, each with its own unique features and charm.

Whether you’re a seasoned swimmer or a curious beginner, there’s a spot for everyone to take the plunge and discover the joys of cold water swimming near Manchester.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best spots for cold water swimming in the region and what makes each location so special.

Gaddings Dam | Todmorden

Gaddings Dam is a small reservoir located near the town of Todmorden in West Yorkshire, England. It is situated on the Pennine Way, a long-distance footpath that runs from Derbyshire to Scotland. Gaddings Dam is around 35 minutes by car from the centre of Manchester.

The dam was constructed in the mid-19th century to provide water for the local textile industry, and it has since become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The area around the dam is known for its rugged beauty, with steep hillsides and rocky outcrops providing a dramatic backdrop.

In recent years, Gaddings Dam has become a popular spot for wild swimming, despite the fact that there are no official lifeguards or facilities at the site. The water can be cold, and the currents can be strong, so swimmers are advised to take precautions and swim at their own risk.

In addition to swimming, the area around Gaddings Dam is popular for hiking, cycling, and birdwatching. The reservoir is home to a variety of bird species, including kingfishers, herons, and buzzards.

Overall, Gaddings Dam is a beautiful and unique location that offers visitors the chance to experience the rugged beauty of the Pennine landscape.

Location details

  • Entry Fee: FREE
  • Location: West Yorkshire, Todmorden
  • Lifeguard: No
Gaddings Dam | Todmorden
People on a beach of a lake

Openswim | Sale Waterpark

Sale Water Park is a large recreational area in the town of Sale in Greater Manchester, England. It is situated on the banks of the River Mersey and covers an area of approximately 150 acres. Sale Waterpark is a short 25-minute drive from the city centre; it can also be walked to from Dane Road Metrolink stop making it very accessible.

Swimming at Sale Water Park is a popular activity for both locals and visitors, and the lake is regularly monitored to ensure that it meets strict water quality standards. There are also trained lifeguards on duty during swimming hours to ensure the safety of visitors.

In addition to swimming, Sale Water Park offers a wide range of other activities and attractions, including walking and cycling trails and a sailing club!

Sale Waterpark even has dedicated cold water swimming sessions, otherwise known as Open Swim. Open Swim runs on weekends from October to January. Offering everything from introductory lessons to cold water swimming all the way to preparation for swimming the Channel!

Casual lessons start at £7. There’s something for all swimmers, whether you’re a beginner or pro, as they have ‘the most experienced coaching team in the North West’.

Overall, Sale Water Park is a great destination for anyone looking to enjoy some outdoor recreation in the Greater Manchester area. With its beautiful lake and wide range of activities, it’s a perfect place to spend a sunny day with family and friends.

Location details

  • Entry Fee: £7
  • Location: Rifle Rd, Sale M33 2LX
  • Lifeguard: Yes
Openswim | Sale Waterpark
Ducks on a lake

Farm Club | Pickmere

Set in the rolling acres of the Cheshire countryside, the Farm Club provides swimmers with exquisite facilities.

400m and 750m loops are open to swimmers with no tides or currents and a patrolling lifeguard kayak, making it a super safe place to swim for all. The Farm Club is a 40-minute drive from Manchester City Centre.

The Farm Club offers a safe and secure environment for open water swimming, suitable for both beginners and seasoned professionals.

The facility provides safety instructors and experienced coaches on stand-up paddleboards, mandatory registration, and distance markers in the water to prioritize the well-being of swimmers. With a team of experienced coaches, visitors can expect guidance throughout their swimming journey.

The Pickmere hot spot offers quality swimming facilities, biking, yoga, and running activities. Whether you’re a fitness enthusiast or just starting out, The Farm Club welcomes all. Memberships include coached sessions and access to the picturesque Pick Mere, all in partnership with Total Tri Training.

The venue caters more to those looking to experience the health benefits of cold-water swimming than casual swimmers. Bookable one-hour open-water swimming sessions are available starting at £7.

Location details

  • Entry Fee: From £7
  • Location: Mere View Farm, Pickmere, Knutsford, WA16 0LG
  • Lifeguard: Yes
Farm Club | Pickmere
Lake meeting tree line

Open Water Swimming | Salford Watersports Centre

Salford Watersports Centre is a popular destination for open water swimming in Greater Manchester, UK. The facility is located in Salford Quays, near the Lowry Arts Centre and MediaCityUK. Salford Watersports Centre is just a 16-minute drive from Manchester city centre.

The open water swimming at Salford Watersports Centre takes place in a large, buoyed-off section of the Manchester Ship Canal.

The swim course is approximately 400 meters long, and swimmers can complete as many laps as they wish during their session. The water is regularly tested to ensure it meets safe swimming standards.

The facility offers a range of sessions for open water swimmers of all abilities, including coached sessions, group swims, and solo swims.

Coached sessions are led by experienced swim coaches who provide technical advice and support for swimmers. Group swims offer the opportunity to swim with others and socialize, while solo swims are available for those who prefer to swim alone.

Swimmers are required to wear a wetsuit and brightly coloured swim caps for visibility. The facility provides wetsuits for hire, and there are changing rooms and showers available on-site.

Overall, Salford Watersports Centre is a great option for those looking for a safe and supervised environment for open water swimming in Greater Manchester.

Location details

  • Entry Fee: £5
  • Location: 15 The Quays, Salford M50 3SQ
  • Lifeguard: Yes
Open Water Swimming | Salford Watersports Centre
Sportscentre by a quay

Lumb Falls | Hebden Bridge

Lumb Falls in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, England, is a beautiful destination for cold water swimming. The falls feature a natural pool at the base, creating a refreshing and invigorating experience for swimmers.

The falls are only around a 1-hour drive from Manchester City Centre. It’s an easy car ride, but be careful on the short walk up to the falls, as the cobbled paths can get quite slippery!

The cold waters of Lumb Falls may be a shock to some, but many find the experience of swimming in them to be energizing and revitalizing. Wearing a wetsuit and brightly coloured tow float for visibility is recommended, as well as gradually acclimating to the water by starting with shorter swims.

Overall, Lumb Falls is a fantastic spot for swimmers looking to experience cold water swimming in a stunning natural setting. Swimmers can enjoy the thrill of the cool water while taking in the beautiful scenery of the falls and the surrounding area.

Location details

  • Entry Fee: £5 or free for National Trust members
  • Location: Sunny Bank Rd, Hebden Bridge HX7 8RG
  • Lifeguard: No
Lumb Falls | Hebden Bridge
Waterfalls in forest

Places in Manchester where cold water swimming is banned

You are no longer allowed to swim in the following locations around Manchester:

  • Chorlton Waterpark
  • Hatchmere Lake

Manchester City Council banned swimming in Chorlton Waterpark due to health and safety reasons.

Hatchmere Lake had to advise swimmers from entering the water after finding blooms of toxic blue-green algae. This posed a serious danger to public health; therefore, wild swimming is no longer permitted.

Cold water swimming can be great fun, but it’s important to know where it’s safe and legal to do so.

In Manchester, there are several places where cold water swimming is banned due to safety concerns and local regulations. These may include areas with fast-moving currents, hidden underwater obstacles, or water quality issues.

It’s crucial to respect these rules and avoid cold water swimming in prohibited areas to avoid putting yourself and others in danger. Always research local regulations and seek out safe, designated areas for cold water swimming.


Cold water swimming has become a popular activity in Greater Manchester, offering a thrilling and invigorating experience to those who brave the chilly waters.

From the scenic Lumb Falls to the tranquil Sale Water Park, the region boasts several fantastic spots for cold water swimming, each with its own unique charm.

While it’s important to take precautions and stay safe when swimming in cold water, the benefits to both physical and mental health make it a worthwhile activity to explore. Check out our top swim spots in York!

We hope this guide to the best spots for cold water swimming in Greater Manchester inspires you to take the plunge and discover the joys of this exhilarating activity for yourself.