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Bathers at Hampstead Heath in London
Photograph: Alex Segre /

England is officially getting 27 more wild bathing spots

More than two dozen beaches, rivers and lakes are becoming designated wild swimming spots

Annie McNamee
Written by
Annie McNamee

Wild swimming might conjure images in your mind of childhood summers and running through the countryside with the sun on your back. It may, conversely, immediately make you anxious and concerned about the amount of frogs in your immediate vicinity. Either way, wild swimming and bureaucracy likely don’t live together in your mind – but, surprisingly, they should.

For somewhere to be approved as a wild swimming site it actually has to be okayed by the government. You can’t just pick somewhere wild to swim, that would be lunacy! Officially approved spots are vetted by the Environment Agency, who continually check the safety and cleanliness of the water at the recommended locations. 

And soon there will be lots more officially approved wild bathing spots in the UK. Today (May 13), the government has announced that 27 new places will become designating bathing spots before this summer. 

Most of the UK’s current 424 approved spots are on beaches and coastlines. Some have called for more safe inland spaces for swimmers, but sewage and agricultural waste means they are often less clean (naturally, most people would prefer not to swim amongst human faeces). Excitingly for avid nature-swimmers in the UK, many of the 27 new designated wild bathing spots are in rivers and lakes.

The full list of new designated wild bathing spots in England

  • Church Cliff Beach, Dorset
  • Coastguards Beach, Devon
  • Coniston Boating Centre, Cumbria
  • Coniston Brown Howe, Cumbria
  • Littlehaven Beach, Tyne and Wear
  • Manningtree Beach, Essex
  • Monk Coniston, Cumbria
  • River Avon at Fordingbridge, Hampshire
  • River Cam at Sheep’s Green, Cambridgeshire
  • River Dart Estuary at Dittisham, Devon
  • River Dart Estuary at Steamer Quay, Devon
  • River Dart Estuary at Stoke Gabriel, Devon
  • River Dart Estuary at Warfleet, Dartmouth, Devon
  • River Frome at Farleigh Hungerford, Somerset
  • River Nidd at the Lido Leisure Park in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
  • River Ribble at Edisford Bridge, Lancashire
  • River Severn at Ironbridge, Shropshire
  • River Severn at Shrewsbury, Shropshire
  • River Stour at Sudbury, Suffolk
  • River Teme at Ludlow, Shropshire
  • River Tone in French Weir Park, Taunton, Somerset
  • Wallingford Beach, Berkshire
  • Derwent Water, Crow Park, Cumbria
  • River Wharfe at Wetherby Riverside, West Yorkshire
  • Goring Beach, West Sussex
  • Worthing Beach House, West Sussex
  • Rottingdean Beach, East Sussex

Wild swimming and Time Out

Sure, swimming in a standard pool is pleasant enough, but there’s something special about having a dip in the rough ’n’ ready outdoors. At Time Out we covered the four places that became official wild swimming spots last year, but we also have lists of the UK’s best wild swimming spots and the best places to wild swim near London. Or is it time we stopped wild swimming entirely?  

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