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Wild Swimming: The UK’s Top Wild Swimming Spots to Brave this Festive Season

Wild Swimming: The UK’s Top Wild Swimming Spots to Brave this Festive Season
13 December 2021 James Brooke

Dive into on-the-water expert at Borrow A Boat, Matt Ovenden’s essential guide to the best wild swims across the UK…

For many of us, plunging into a pool of icy water this winter – whether it be the sea, a lake or a loch – sounds like a nightmare, but over the last couple of years, the popularity of wild swimming has well and truly boomed, with fans lauding the many mental and physical benefits of the sport.

Matt Ovenden, on-the-water expert at Borrow A Boat, says: “The thrill and exhilaration that comes with wild swimming has meant it’s fast become a national pastime, with Brits taking the plunge in lakes, lochs, rivers and the sea, in far greater numbers than ever before – and no matter the time of year.

“Far from just a way to exercise, wild swimming comes with a plethora of mental and physical health benefits, from the cold water helping to boost your immune system to the release of endorphins giving you a natural high.

“The beauty of wild swimming is that it’s a simple, low-cost hobby that anyone, regardless of age, gender, background, can enjoy with opportunities to enjoy it wherever you live.

“From Boxing day swims in little more than a festive hat to bracing dips in city ponds, there are so many brilliant ways to feel the benefits of wild swimming across the UK.”

Here Matt Ovenden – on-the-water expert at Borrow A Boat – shares his top swimming spots for a fresh, fun and invigorating dip this festive season…

Take in the views at Llyn Padarn, Snowdonia

This glacially formed lake is so popular year round that residents of the nearby village of Llanberis often describe it as the ‘local swimming pool’. With shallow lagoons for beginners and deeper waters for more experienced swimmers, this lake makes for the perfect spot for a refreshing and invigorating winter dip.

Don’t let sharing the waters with torgoch – a rare type of Arctic char fish that has survived since the ice age – put you off; with breath-taking views of snow-capped mountains in every direction, this is one wild swimming spot that you may never want to leave – although the cold waters will undoubtedly ensure a timely exit.

Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere at Hampstead Heath Ponds, London

Surely one of London’s most famous wild swimming spots, Hampstead Heath Ponds boast both a dedicated Ladies’ Pond as well as a Men’s Pond, which women can also enjoy at certain times, and is the perfect place for beginners to dip their toe into the trend.

So if you’re spending Christmas in the city, there’s really no excuse not to experience the benefits of a morning wild swim.

Don your best Santa’s hat on Portobello Beach, Edinburgh

If it’s some moral support you need to get yourself into the chilly British waters, then a group swim is just the thing. Hardy swimmers take to Scottish waters every year for a Christmas Day dip in the chilly waters. Pull out your best red swimming shorts or most festive head gear for a wild swim that is sure make for an unforgettable Christmas.

With Scottish waters particularly cold even in Summer, ensure you’re prepared with swimming robe ready and waiting as you head for shore.

Forgo the wetsuit in Polzeath, Cornwall

In Hayle Bay’s Christmas Day swim there is just one rule; no wetsuits allowed. For the over 400 people who take part annually, that means one very icy dip.
But don’t fear, mulled wine and hot chocolate will be waiting at the other end for those who’ve taken the plunge.

The fun is infectious and will surely make for a Christmas Day experience like no other.

Work off the turkey on Tenby Beach, Wales

One of the biggest, and best, has to be Tenby’s Boxing Day Swim that sees swimmers of all ages head to the beach and enjoy a dip in the chilly Welsh waters.

The last swim saw a record-breaking 800 swimmers take part, wearing a whole host of festive costumes. From elf outfits to seal onesies, even dogs adorned with festive gear headed into the water. This year’s swim marks Tenby’s 50th year of Boxing Day swims, giving you all the more reason to get involved.

Not sure you’re ready to take the plunge?

If you’re not sure you’re ready to brave the icy winter waters just yet, head down to Hyde Park’s Serpentine Lido on Christmas Day and enjoy watching a collection of brave London swimmers take part in the Peter Pan Cup.

Swimmers have been donning their most festive swimming caps and diving head first into one of London’s most famous open water swimming spots, for this 100yd race since 1864 and you’ll undoubtedly be left wanting to dust off your swimmers and try it out for yourself.

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Notes to Editors:

  • Please ensure all links are to the UK Borrow A Boat website:
  • Borrow A Boat CEO, Matt Ovenden, is available for interview or comment upon request.

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