There's no escaping the fact that anyone in Birmingham who wants to sunbathe on the beach or dip their toes in the sea faces at least couple of hours on the road before reaching the nearest coastline. So, are there alternatives to driving down to Weston-super-Mare, across to Rhyl or up to Blackpool?
Okay, so you won't find anywhere on the doorstep where you can frolic on golden sands or stroll on a pier. But if you want the experience of outdoor swimming and the chance to cool down as the country hots up, we've got a few suggestions that are slightly closer to home:
When it comes to open-air bathing, Birmingham used to offer a selection of lidos. Sadly, the last of them closed in the late 1990s, leaving just Droitwich Spa as the sole surviving outdoor pool of this type in Birmingham's near vicinity. Still, with fountains and water cannons for the kids and ice creams for all, the Lido Park at Droitwich offers much of the beach experience and you should be able to get there in less than an hour.
Flickr: Tony Hisgett
Home to an impressive adventure playground and mountain bike trails, Sandwell Valley Country Park in West Bromwich also contains Swan Pool. In the past, the pool was used as a wild swimming spot but you need to use permission to dive in these days. That said, Swan Pool is very popular with a wide range of groups, for fishing, sailing and as a swimming spot for training triathletes. There is also a group which arranges occasional night swims in the pool to raise money for charity.
Another open water swimming spot is the Bittell Reservoir, located between Barnt Green and Hopwood. Again, permission is needed so you can't just turn up and expect a splash about, but members of the Birmingham Running, Athletics and Triathlon (BRAT) club often to use it for training.
River Avon, near St Nicholas Park, Warwick
If you care little for lifeguards and are happy to take on the responsibilities that comes with wild swimming, one popular location is St Nicholas Park in Warwick, where the River Avon runs close by. You'll have to find your own way into the river to find a quiet place to paddle, but that is part of the reward.
Geograph.org.uk - Rob Farrow
Known affectionately as 'Dozzi', the Dotshill Quarry in Tamworth is the oldest inland diving site in the UK and also offers year-round outdoor swimming in what many agree are beautiful surroundings. You'll need to pack a wetsuit to cope with the temperature, though.
Midlands Open Water Swim Centre
Just north of Kingsbury village on Tamworth Road you'll find the Midlands Open Water Swim Centre. This lake, with its clear waters, makes a great venue for sampling open water swimming. The lake is open to the public three times a week (Tuesday and Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon) and you can find more details at the Facebook page.
River Leam, near Victoria Park, Leamington Spa
If you don't mind driving down to Leamington Spa to enjoy nature's watery offerings, wild swimmers can access the River Leam by Victoria Park. You'll often see kids splashing about, along with canoeists, fishermen and rowboats.
Are there any other wild swimming or outdoor swimming spots nearby that we've missed?
If swimming isn't a priority, don't forget you could always just explore these beautiful Midlands towns.