The Best Wild Swimming Spots in London and Surrounding Areas

London and its surrounding areas offer several places for wild swimming, providing a refreshing escape from the bustling city. Here are some of the best places for wild swimming in and around London:

1.  London Docks, specifically St. Katharine Docks and Royal Victoria Dock, are popular destinations for open water swimming in the city. These docks provide a unique opportunity to swim in a controlled environment while enjoying the urban surroundings. Here's more information about each location:

  • St. Katharine Docks: Located near the Tower of London, St. Katharine Docks is a marina complex that offers open water swimming sessions during the summer months. The docks are sectioned off to create a safe swimming area, and lifeguards are usually present. It's important to check the specific dates and times for swimming sessions, as they may vary each year.
  • Royal Victoria Dock: Situated in East London, Royal Victoria Dock is another option for open water swimming. The dock is a part of the wider Royal Docks area and is known for hosting events like triathlons and open water swimming races. During certain periods, open water swimming sessions are available for the public. It's recommended to check for any specific guidelines or restrictions before planning a swim.

    2.  Hampstead Heath Ponds - are a well-known and beloved location for wild swimming in London. Located within the picturesque Hampstead Heath, these natural swimming ponds offer a unique and refreshing swimming experience in the heart of the city.

    There are three main swimming ponds within Hampstead Heath:

    1. Hampstead Mixed Pond: As the name suggests, this pond is open to both men and women. It is the largest of the three ponds and provides a serene and natural setting for swimming. The water is unheated, but many swimmers find it invigorating, especially during the summer months.

    2. Ladies' Pond: The Ladies' Pond is exclusively for women and has a long history dating back to the 1920s. It offers a peaceful and inclusive environment for female swimmers. The water temperature is unheated, and the pond is surrounded by beautiful vegetation, creating a tranquil atmosphere.

    3. Men's Pond: Similarly, the Men's Pond is exclusively for male swimmers. It has its own unique character and provides a serene place to swim and relax. Like the other ponds, the water is unheated, and the surrounding landscape adds to the natural beauty of the area.

    3. Serpentine Lido is a prominent location for open water swimming in London. Situated in Hyde Park, one of the city's largest parks, Serpentine Lake provides a unique opportunity to swim amidst the picturesque surroundings of central London. Here's more information about swimming in Serpentine Lake:

    1. Serpentine Lido: Serpentine Lido is a designated swimming area within Serpentine Lake. It offers a safe and controlled environment for open water swimming. The Lido has dedicated changing facilities and a pontoon for entry and exit into the water.

    2. Swim Sessions: The Serpentine Swimming Club manages and oversees swimming sessions in the lake. They organise regular swimming sessions throughout the year, including a popular "Early Bird" session before the park opens to the public. These sessions are open to both members of the Serpentine Swimming Club and non-members.

    If you're interested in swimming in Serpentine Lake, it's recommended to check the Serpentine Swimming Club's website or contact them directly for specific information on swim sessions, membership, safety guidelines, and any requirements or restrictions that may be in place.

    4. Thames River: While swimming in the main stretch of the River Thames within London is not recommended due to strong currents and busy boat traffic, there are some areas upstream and downstream that offer safer opportunities for wild swimming. Examples include the Thames at Marlow, Henley-on-Thames, and Richmond.

    5. River Stort in Hertfordshire is indeed a popular location for open water swimming.  It flows through Hertfordshire and Essex in England. It offers scenic stretches for open water swimming, particularly in the section between Sawbridgeworth and Spellbrook.

    6. Danson Park Lake: Situated in Bexleyheath, Danson Park Lake offers a designated swimming area during the summer months, making it a convenient option for wild swimming in the London suburbs.

    7. Shepperton Lake: Located southwest of London, Shepperton Lake is a popular spot for open water swimming. It provides a safe environment with lifeguards on duty during designated swimming sessions.

    While it's not a legal requirement to wear a tow float when swimming outdoors in the UK, it is highly recommended for safety purposes.  Wearing a Tow Float is beneficial because:

    1. Visibility: The bright colours of the tow float make you more visible to other water users, such as boats, kayakers, or fellow swimmers, reducing the risk of accidental collisions.

    2. Safety and Buoyancy: The tow float provides additional buoyancy, making it easier for you to stay afloat in the water. It can also act as a support aid if you need to rest or take a break during your swim.

    3. Storage: Many tow floats come with a small dry bag compartment where you can keep your valuables, such as keys, phones, or snacks, protecting them from water damage while you swim.

    4. Signalling: In case of an emergency, the tow float can serve as a signalling device. You can wave or blow on a whistle attached to the float to attract attention and call for help.

    5. Confidence and Peace of Mind: Wearing a tow float can increase your confidence while swimming in open water, especially if you are a beginner or less experienced swimmer. It provides a sense of security and reassurance.

    Swim Secure tow floats


    New to cold water swimming? Check out our Beginners Guide to Tow Floats for great tips on keeping safe in the water.  We also have a Dry Bag and Tow Float Guide for Every Type of Swimmer available to read. 

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    If you're thinking of taking up the sport have a look at the Swim Secure Open Water Swimming Safety Guide for some tips on how to get started safely. 

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