Take the plunge and earn body & mind benefits from trending wild swimming.
There are plenty of reasons this icy endeavour is a hot topic in wellness circles of late. Wild swimming is seen as an antidote to the stressors of urban living but, crucially, it’s one with the research-approved kudos to back it up. This is no passing fad.
Leaving behind the swimming lanes of indoor pools is unequivocally good for you. As long as you don’t swallow a bellyful of algae, of course. Scientists have found that exposure to cold water can help to bolster your immune system as well as sink your stress levels. Some researchers even found it can power up your testosterone levels, helping you to recharge and boost progress after a tough week in the gym.
So the question isn’t whether you should dive in, it’s where?
- Bude Sea Pool, Cornwall
Go for: the ocean views
Open every day, 24 hours a day – but it’s best and safest to swim at low tide. Bude Sea Pool is around 91m long and 45m wide and the water temperature varies from 11C in April through to 18C in September. It’s chilly, basically! The sea washes in twice a day with high tide, refreshing the water, and providing epic views out from the Cornish coast. Warm down with a walk along the sand to get an ice cream.
- Hampstead Heath, London
Go for: the peace and quiet
Closer to home, Hampstead’s bathing ponds are an oasis on your doorstep. Diving in is your quickest way to escape the city’s hubbub. There is a range of pools in the area. One is mixed in Hampstead, with a men-only pond in Highgate and a women-only one in Kengrove. A 6-month pass will cost you £66 and you need to book your spot online. However, this natural pond, with deep, opaque and cold water is worth a little forward planning.
- River Thames, Pangbourne
Go for: the post-swim pubs
Swimming in the Thames doesn’t sound all that appealing, but we’re not talking about taking the plunge outside Third Space Tower Bridge. The short trip out of the city means you can dive into countryside living in no time. Swim along the banks to the nearby villages, or hop out and rent yourself a kayak for a proper aquatic tour. Either way, towel off and finish with a drink at local pub The Swan, settling down on their terrace overlooking the water.
- Wast Water, Lake District
Go for: the long-distance swim
Go truly wild by staying at the National Trust campsite at the Wasdale Head end of the lake. Wastwater has been voted as Britain’s favourite view and is surrounded by the mountains, Red Pike, Kirk Fell, Great Gable and Scafell Pike – England’s highest mountain. Situated in the Wasdale Valley, Wastwater is 3 miles long, half a mile wide and 260 feet deep, and the deepest of all the lakes. Swapping your bathing suit or budgie smugglers for a wetsuit during this dip is very much advised.
- Frensham Great Pond, Surrey
Go for: the clean water
If you’re struggling to get over the notion of au naturel swimming sans chlorine, then this is where to dip your toe. Frensham great pond is registered bathing water and is monitored by the Environment Agency. In the summer months the water can be affected by high levels of blue-green algae, but is constantly monitored. Overall the water quality classification for 2020 is excellent. You’ll come out feeling refreshed and reinvigorated.
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