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Winter wild swimming in Wales

Stunning Wild Swimming Spots in Wales to Take a Dip

Winter wild swimming in Wales

Stunning Wild Swimming Spots in Wales to Take a Dip

Wales has no shortage of family-friendly swimming pools and beautiful Blue Flag beaches. But if you’re looking for an experience with serious wow factor, nothing compares to wild swimming in Wales. It’s one of the country’s best outdoor activities and will sate your appetite for adventure while showcasing incredible scenery.

What is wild swimming?

Wild swimming is a pretty self-explanatory term. It describes the act of swimming in open-air pools or bodies of water created by Mother Nature herself. For example, oceans, lakes, rivers and natural springs. Wild swimming offers a unique chance to connect with nature, disconnect from technology and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Wales.

Before we take a closer look at the best wild swimming Wales spots, let’s take a moment to explore the benefits of wild swimming.

The benefits of wild swimming

No doubt about it, the wild swimming craze has swept the UK and Wales is no exception. The BBC even published an entire article dedicated to the nationwide uptake in wild swimming. Here are a few of our favourite benefits:

A meditative experience

For many people, wild swimming can be a meditative experience. It can help to clear the mind and is a fantastic way to practice mindfulness.

Wild swimming offers an intimate way to engage with Wales’ natural beauty. It allows you to explore hidden gems and appreciate the rich biodiversity of the Welsh countryside from a unique perspective.”

This immersive experience fosters a deeper appreciation for the environment, encouraging a sense of stewardship and the desire to protect these precious natural resources for future generations

Low-impact physical activity

Let’s not forget the physical benefits of wild swimming. In general, swimming is a terrific low-impact workout. It’s a great way to increase your heart rate without putting stress on your muscles or joints.

Wild swimming in Wales not only improves cardiovascular fitness but also boosts metabolism, aiding in weight management. The natural resistance of water makes swimming an excellent full-body workout, engaging multiple muscle groups without the stress on joints that you might experience with other forms of exercise.

Immersing in the cool waters of Wales’ natural swimming spots can also enhance blood circulation, rejuvenating your body and promoting better overall health. This natural form of hydrotherapy can reduce inflammation and speed up recovery from muscle soreness.

Improve mental health

Many wild swimming in Wales spots have a pretty good chill factor. A recent study published in British Medical Journal Case Reports theorised that cold water swimming can be an effective way to treat depression. The authors suggest the shock of immersing yourself in cold water can help condition the body for other stressors associated with anxiety and depression.

Swimming in the serene and picturesque landscapes of Wales provides a unique form of meditation, allowing you to disconnect from daily stresses and find mental clarity. The tranquil environment is perfect for practicing mindfulness, helping to reduce anxiety and depression.

The sensory experience of being surrounded by nature, the sound of water, and the refreshing touch of a natural swim can stimulate endorphin production, leading to improved mood and a sense of happiness.

Relaxing wild swimming at dusk

Rachel Ashe, founder of nationwide meetup group Mental Health Swims, says an icy swim she took on New Years Day in Edinburgh was life-changing. “I ran into the sea with 100 others and afterwards felt this incredible calm I hadn’t felt in years,” she recalls in the BBC article. “It was a life-changing moment. I now know that the calm I was feeling was my natural pain killers kicking in because getting into cold water is incredibly stressful for your body.”

Easy to embrace

Unlike sports such as rock climbing which require you to invest in gear and tackle a learning curve, wild swimming is easy to embrace. It’s a low-cost hobby which makes it accessible to everyone. All you need to get started is a swimming costume or a wetsuit, depending on where you’re wild swimming in Wales and in what season.

Explore Wales

Whether you’re a Welsh local or planning a trip to the Land of Castles, wild swimming is a great way to explore the country. If you’re looking for new ways to get off the beaten track, escape the crowds and reconnect with nature, you’ll love our roundup of the best wild swimming Wales destinations.

Connect with the local community

Joining wild swimming groups in Wales can lead to lasting friendships and a sense of community. These groups often share tips, safety advice, and organize group swims, making the activity both social and reassuring for beginners

Participating in local wild swimming events can also connect you with like-minded individuals who share your passion for outdoor activities, fostering a supportive and inclusive community.

Top spots to try out wild swimming in Wales

Ready to take the plunge? From Brecon Beacons to the Llyn Peninsula, read on for our roundup of the best wild swimming in Wales.

Crickhowell – Brecon Beacons

Brecon Beacons National Park, also called Bannau Brycheiniog, doesn’t just boast fantastic mountain scenery. It’s also one of the best spots for wild swimming in South Wales. The charming town of Crickhowell is a gateway to the park and surrounded by beautiful wild swimming spots, including the River Usk.

The waterway flows through the town and features crystalline shallow pools where you can cool off on a hot summer’s day. The pools near Llangynidr Falls are especially popular and surrounded by flat rocks – perfect for drying off after a dip.

Henrhyd Falls – Brecon Beacons

Henrhyd Falls is another Brecon Beacons gem and one of the best places for wild swimming South Wales. The falls tumble 90 feet into a natural pool surrounded by lush greenery. The water is cold but the experience is exhilarating at this wild swimming spot, which is managed by National Trust Wales.

Henrhyd Falls, wild swimming spot in Wales

This one also has special appeal for Batman fans. Christopher Nolan chose the falls as the official Batcave filming location for The Dark Knight Rises. A trail loops around the falls and takes you into the hidden cave, where you can reenact your favourite Christian Bale moments.

Llanberis Infinity Pool – Snowdonia National Park

Of all the wild swimming North Wales spots to choose from, the Llanberis Infinity Pool is one of the most spectacular. Set in the hills above Llanberis Pass, this not-so-secret pool features translucent water and breathtaking mountain views. It can be a little difficult to find but with some basic navigation skills and the help of Google Earth, you should be able to track down this beauty. Getting there is half the fun!

Rheidol Vale Falls – Aberystwyth

Looking for family-friendly West Wales wild swimming ideas? Rheidol Vale Falls near Aberystwyth is the perfect spot for a day in the sunshine. Park in nearby villages like Devil’s Bridge or Ystumtuen and follow the well-trodden footpaths down to the falls. You’ll find some beautiful paddling pools, as well as a sun-drenched pebble beach where you can enjoy a picnic or BBQ.

Borth Beach – Ceredigion

Borth Beach doesn’t necessarily offer the same remote experience as other spots for wild swimming in West Wales. But it’s gorgeous, nonetheless. The three-mile stretch of golden sand is fringed by shallow water that’s perfect for a sunrise swim. Rugged cliffs tower over the southern end of the beach and offer plenty of shelter from the breeze. The beach is patrolled by lifeguards in the summer months, making this a great wild swimming spot for families with kids.

Porthor – Llyn Peninsula

Also called Whistling Sands, Porthor delights nature lovers with ultra-fine sand that literally squeaks beneath your feet. It’s perched on the northwest coast of the peninsula and promises a wild and remote feel. Grass-covered cliffs frame the beach and set off the honey-coloured sand. Bring your own supplies or purchase drinks, snacks and ice cream from the small kiosk.

Merthyr Tydfil – Brecon Beacons

The lively town of Merthyr Tydfil puts you at the doorstep of the Brecon Beacons. The park is packed with beautiful wild swimming spots for every occasion, from remote glacial lakes to cascading waterfalls.

Adventure seekers find it hard to resist the allure of Llyn-y-Fan Fach. Set beneath dramatic glacier-carved escarpments, the cobalt-blue lake is more than 500 metres above sea level and almost 30 metres deep. Yes, it’s cold!

Llyn-y-Fan Fach glacial wild swimming spot

A few kilometres east is Llyn-y-Fan Fawr, another beautiful glacial lake that feeds the River Tawe. It’s a little harder to access but if you’re searching for off-the-beaten-track wild swimming in Wales experiences, it’s a gem.

Combine your adventure with a hike up 800-metre-tall Fan Brycheiniog, which towers over the lake. From the summit you’ll enjoy spectacular views over Brecon Beacons National Park.

Porthdinllaen – Llyn Peninsula

Pristine coastline makes the Llyn Peninsula one of the top-rated North Wales wild swimming destinations. Porthdinllaen, a picturesque fishing village set on a sheltered sandy cove, is one of our favourite spots to take a dip. The beach is owned and maintained by the National Trust and a haven for seabirds and marine life. Look for seals reclining on the rocks and oystercatchers strutting along the shoreline.

The beach isn’t patrolled by lifeguards which keeps it quiet and peaceful, even in the height of summer. A handful of cafes and inns overlook the beach and make it easy to get your hands on a post-swim coffee.

Tor Bay – Swansea

Quiet and uncrowded, Tor Bay is one of the best places for wild swimming in Swansea. It’s a stone’s throw from the city but feels world’s away from the urban scene. Park at Penmaen Village and follow the trail for around 20 minutes to reach the bay. It’s not patrolled by lifeguards so this one’s reserved for confident swimmers.

After a dip in the Bristol Channel, warm up with a brisk walk to Great Tor. The headland juts into the sea and commands uninterrupted views across Three Cliffs Bay. If you’re on the hunt for wild swimming Carmarthenshire destinations, Tor Bay is a top pick.

Skenfrith Castle – Monmouthshire

The natural pool near Skenfrith Castle is the perfect combination of history and natural beauty. It’s set on a wide section of the River Monnow and features beautiful views of the 13th-century castle. On sunny days this wild swimming South Wales spot is a lovely place to enjoy a dip followed by a picnic. This under-the-radar spot is a one-hour drive from the Welsh capital, making it a great choice if you’re looking for wild swimming in Cardiff.

Blue Lagoon – Pembrokeshire

Blue Lagoon, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Love the feel of salty skin and hair? The Blue Lagoon in Pembrokeshire is an enchanting South Wales wild swimming destination. Surrounded by rugged cliffs, the turquoise lagoon isn’t just one of the most spectacular wild swimming in Wales spots. It’s also a bucket list destination for cliff jumpers. The icy water will get your skin-tingling but the energised feeling you’ll get as you emerge from the lagoon is worth it.

Lyn Cau – Gwynedd

Set in the shadow of 893-metre-tall Cadair Idris, Lyn Cau is one of the deepest wild swimming in Wales locations. This knowledge alone is guaranteed to get your heart beating a little faster. Swim out into deeper water and lie on your back for dizzying views of the summit.

A three-mile loop trail starts at the main carpark and takes you directly to the lake. It’s easy to hike in a day, though for a real adventure, pack overnight gear and wild camp on the lakeshore. Nothing beats a morning swim followed by a piping hot coffee.

Blue Pool Bay – Gower Peninsula

Accessible only at low tide, this secret pool features jewel-toned water. It’s a great spot to take a saltwater dip followed by a sunbathing session. The opposite end of the beach features unique rock arches carved by centuries of wind and water erosion. The natural pool is an easy walk from Broughton Bay, a long sandy beach backed by rolling dunes. Check the tides before you set off!

Watkins Path Waterfall – Snowdonia National Park

Planning to summit Snowdon via the legendary Watkins Path? Pack a swimming costume and enjoy a refreshing dip in the Watkins Path Waterfall along the way. The falls gush along a series of rocky outcrops and create crystalline pools where you can fill up your water bottle and of course, take an impromptu swim. Trust us – the cool water feels amazing on tired muscles.

Don’t forget to pack a set of warm, dry clothes to change into after your swim. The weather can change quickly in the Snowdonia mountains, so always be prepared for the worst. Especially if you plan to get wet.

Plan your wild swimming in Wales adventure

After an invigorating dip, there’s nothing better than a hot shower back at your cosy B&B, self-contained cottage or boutique hotel. We’ve included options for every budget, including campgrounds, caravan parks and pet-friendly farm stays. It’s never been easier to plan a wild swimming in Wales break!