Wild swimming is becoming increasingly popular across the UK, and even worldwide. Those who have always swum would just call it swimming – the act of getting into rivers, the sea or a lake and enjoying being fully immersed in nature.
Now it is trendy, but it is still the same activity – and it is one of the most enjoyable, cheap and accessible pastimes around. You need very little equipment – just a swimsuit and towel, and some cheap water shoes or old sandals to protect your feet.
The Shropshire Hills provide a whole host of locations which are perfect for swimming, with clear, reed-edged lakes, cool reservoirs and a plethora of beautiful meandering rivers, from the majestic Severn to the chilly River Clun and River Onny.
The swimming sites on this page have been chosen because they are great places to swim and they have also been well tried and tested by wild swimmers from the Shropshire Hills. However, your personal safety when swimming is YOUR OWN RESPONSIBILITY and there are a number of basic rules you should always follow to keep safe - read our guidelines below:
Please be safe - wild swimming safety
- Treat water with respect, and only swim when you have a clear exit point. Water is easy to get into, but with flow and the cold, you can find it is much harder to get out of.
- However hot the weather may be, you should NEVER jump into a lake or river. Water stays cold, even when the air has heated up, and the shock of the sudden cold can be very dangerous. You should always take enough time entering the water for your body to acclimatise at its own pace, remembering that it will automatically adjust so as to protect your core organs.
- If there is a flow, for example in a river, make sure you know you can easily swim against it, and ALWAYS SWIM UPSTREAM FIRST. That way, if you get tired, the river will bring you back to your clothes.
- Never, ever swim after drinking alcohol.
- If you have a known heart condition, wild swimming may not be for you.
- Warm up thoroughly afterwards, with a hot drink, plenty of warm clothes, and a piece of cake!
Carding Mill Wild Swimming
The National Trust is happy for people to swim at the old reservoir in Cardingmill Valley, and the safety notice there is a great example of a well-managed recreational resource. The reservoir is close to the top car park, which used to be the old swimming baths – so look out for the depth sign when you arrive. Alternatively, you can park close to Carding Mill visitor centre and café and walk.
The reservoir is very cold all year round, but the dippers and wagtails make up for it, and there’s a cheeky robin that’ll come and share your cake if you are quiet. Please don’t be tempted to jump from the water tower!
The River Teme in Ludlow
The Teme is a deep and wide river, but most of the year it is gentle and not too fast-flowing. There are kingfishers and ducks, swans and cygnets, and cormorants in the tree at the confluence with the River Corve (about 0.5 km from the weir). Get in above the weir by the Millennium Green so you can wade in slowly, then swim upstream towards the pontoon, watching for the low turquoise flash of the kingfisher as you go. There’s coffee and cake or a spot of lunch at the Green Café when you are finished – but beware, you may get addicted! They have rugs and hot water bottles if you have stayed in too long, so do ask!
Baron at Bucknell
If you fancy “fairly wild” swimming, then the Baron at Bucknell might be just the place for you. This country pub in the village of Bucknell has built three state-of-the-art garden rooms, which enjoy exclusive access to a specially constructed swimming pond. The organic pond features a central, lined swimming area that is bordered by shallower areas, with reeds and other features.
But, instead of braving the elements when you’ve finished your swim, you can hop into your own hot tub on the decking of one of three purpose-built luxury garden rooms. Each room is generously sized and luxuriously fitted out, with super king size bed, real flame inset gas fire, walk-in shower and wet room, and squishy sofa.