With temperatures finally starting to heat up, there’s no better way to cool down than with a refreshing dip in some wholly natural water; now known as wild or open swimming. Lovely idea, but the reality is it takes some guts (and experience) to find the best spots and confidently dive in, or (more realistically), step in on tippy toes, squirming at every muddy, slimy, slurp into the unknown. So why not try a more reassuring wild swimming set within the confines of a hotel’s grounds in a natural lake? All of these properties even have experts on hand to help you take that first step. Here’s the best UK hotels with wild swimming spots in their grounds.
Heckfield Place, Hampshire, England
Grab a generous waffle towel and head to the eastern end of the Lower Lake located in 400 acres of secluded Hampshire landscape where the water is deep and clear, flanked by majestic trees and a wide, grassy shore line. A wildly wonderful spot to enjoy a civilised dip in nature that feels remote and natural, but looked after in equal measure. Swimming can be guided with Heckfield’s mindfulness teacher, Benjamin, who is on hand for wild swimming novices. Naturally, you can also wallow alone, no fuss, no drama, simply sashay up to the wooden pontoon and, via the helpful step ladder, gracefully slip in.
Read the full review here.
The Samling, Lake District, England
Nestled in 67 acres of rolling hills, meadows and ancient woodlands teeming with wildlife, The Samling has breathtaking views across Lake Windermere – the longest natural lake in England (and probably the most famous lake in the Lake District). It also has a big connection with open water swimming, hosting the supremely popular Great North Swim. The Samling work with swimthelakes.co.uk who offer guests of all levels the chance to try everything from short wild swims to full open water courses. Plus, the property has recently launched its brand new jetty for those who want to dive right in.
Read the full review here
Armathwaite Hall, Lake District, England
Just a short stroll down from the hotel, guests (from first-timers or those looking for a more immersive lake experience) can take to the Bassenthwaite Lake water, part of the biggest National Park in England. You will be met by an instructor for a half day session in the wild and open waters and shown the basics of open water swimming, helped with wetsuit fitting (essential) and guided into the water slowly. You’ll also learn about finding your own swimming spots in the mountains and staying safe while swimming solo should the inevitable endorphins get you hooked.
Read the full review here
The Torridon, Highlands, Scotland
After winding your way through the glen to the shores of Loch Torridon in 58 acres of parkland estate, complete with fairytale-like turrets and a romantic, rugged beauty, refresh your body and soul by slipping into the gin-clear Loch. Wetsuit hire is available (£15 for a full day) and advisable even in a heatwave. Explore the world beneath the water with a guide and snorkel exploring a number of stunning bays and sheltered headlands in search of all kinds of shellfish, sea urchins, and anemones. Afterwards, warm up with a hot shower and a wee dram back at the hotel a mere stone’s throw away.
Fritton Lake, Norfolk, England
For the ultimate moral support and top notch training, time your stay here with the complimentary gregarious group open water swimming sessions that happen throughout the week. Alternatively, take to the water solo and watch from afar (the lake is 2 miles long). Either way, you must be over 13 and have taken the lake swim proficiency test (£10). Another must is the swim-up sauna, a little black box at the side of the lake that has 20 minute booking slots before diving back in for the ultimate cool off. The clubhouse rooms in the former 16th-century manor house hotel with exposed beams and brickwork are the most luxurious and nearest to the lake.
Doubles from £180 per night, frittonlake.co.uk
Another Place, Lake District, England
For a more serious experience head to chic and airy Another Place hotel who have an untouchable wild swimming menu in the Ullswater Lake. Guided wild and open water swimming is led by Colin Hill, a swim guide, coach and English channel solo swimmer plus the UK’s first male Ice Mile swimmer (swimming one mile in under five degrees without a wetsuit). Hill’s passion for open water swimming is infectious and you couldn’t be in better hands. Life affirming highlights are the four mile hikes and wild swims, and the night swims that include star gazing and full moon dips.