Welcome to our top places to… Outdoor swim
Here we discover the joys of outdoor swimming locations with a quick description of each to help you make your mind up. All around the world including England, there are numerous choices and outdoor swimming has always been a popular and exciting experience for hundreds of years. Whether it is at an outdoor natural pool on the edge of the sea set amid jagged lava rocks in Europe or an old Victorian pool that was still standing 100 years ago in coastal England, a “lido” (lee-doh) or outdoor pool is a fun way to spend the day and get away from the hustle and bustle of life.
The term Lido is an Italian word for “beach” and possibly came from English visitors returning from the Lido di Venezia, where sea-bathing was popular from the late 19th century. Lido’s enjoyed their heyday in the 1930s and the oldest freshwater pool in Great Britain is in Lewes, East Sussex, dating back to the 1860s.
Lovers of swimming in the open air enjoy warm water temperatures, the outdoors, and even an opportunity to for a midnight swim beneath the stars. Some outdoor swimming locations are actually a whole linked complex system of water holes. You find this a lot in Europe where the captured water is a clear sharp blue on a sunny day.
The world is riddled with outdoor swimming locations that can make you feel free and give you much needed unstructured time outside. Here are just a few!
Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula has a huge vaulted cave with a turquoise pool in its centre. While the Gippsland Lakes are Australia’s largest system of inland waterways and create a unique opportunity to swim among under “twinkling light” due to bioluminescent dinoflagellates that have unexpectedly appeared. The Blue Cave of Croatia is a stunning spot for a plunge – when the sun is at its full height, the water in the cavern turns a luminous blue.
France’s Pont du Gard is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the first century AD is an architecture-themed wild swim to enjoy it at your leisure and across the pond in Scotland, the Coryvreckan Whirlpool is where George Orwell nearly died crossing from Scarba to Jura in a boat. The whirlpool varies in strength depending on the tide and winds, and it’s possible to swim right across when it’s at its weakest.
Oman offers a perfect escape at its Bimmah Sinkhole where shoals of tiny fish are a testament to the purity of the clear water, and Seljavallalaug in Iceland is a raw and rugged outdoor swimming experience fed by a natural hot spring which is quite literally the perfect spot to dive in and drop off the radar. All these natural outdoor pools are a refreshing alternative to manmade modern everything-at-the-snap-of-your-fingers water holes or hotels as sea pool water is renewed by the tide and is so fresh and natural there are often small fish and shrimps to be seen (don’t forget your goggles!)
England also offers some great outdoor swimming locations like Dancing Ledge, a stunning spot on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast that is popular with climbers and swimmers alike. It is a manmade pool with an ammonite-encrusted ledge that fills naturally with sea water at high tide – just deep enough that the sun warms it to a bearable temperature. Nantwich’s ‘salt pit’ (a brine spring) has been known for hundreds of years for being beneficial to rheumatism and was popular for recovering WWI soldiers. It dates back to 1935 and may be the only inland brine pool left in the country. The Cornish coast also offers many open-air natural sea pools, including a unique part natural, part man-made pool nestled in the rocks at Bude that is topped up twice a day by the waves of the Atlantic. Other Cornish outdoor swimming locations are at Perranporth, Portreath, Polperro, Mousehole, Cape Cornwall, Porthtowan, Millendreath, and Treyarnon Bay. A note of caution: be careful when using sea pools and check the tides and lifeguard services before visiting. Even Dartmoor National Park in Devon has a popular river-fed pool that to cool off after a walk across the moors.
More UK open swimming locations:
Lymington Sea Water Baths, Hampshire (one of the oldest in the country); Arundel Lido, West Sussex (nice views of Arundel Castle); Ilkley Moor (one of the best outdoor pools in northern UK); Droitwich Spa Lido, Worcestershire (saltwater pool dating from the 1930s); The Cotswolds offers a treasure for open water swimming aficionados – the largest seawater lido in the country with spectacular views out to the sea. These sea pools are great for kids although you still need to watch them especially during high tides and stormy conditions as waves can splash over the walls and catch you off guard (make sure your belongings are secure so they don’t get sucked out to sea). These swimming locations tend to be calmer in the mornings.
So if you’re looking for natural swimming locals filled with seawater or a giant rock pool/tidal pool, you are spoilt for choice! Just remember your UltraDry waterproof bags and phone pouches before you dive in.
The UltraDry Team.