Swimming Holes

Here are a few of my favourite swimming holes in Britain. Most wild swimming I've done has been alone, though on some occasions I should have had a friend on the shore in case I got into trouble - I'd recommend you did.

The Upper Thames, OxfordshireUpstream of Oxford the Thames appears very clean indeed these days, and is quite slow-flowing outside winter. Favourite places of mine include: 1) from Port Meadow - close to the centre of Oxford - upstream or downstream of the Perch Inn at Binsey. On sunny summer weekend afternoons you'll find several people swimming here. 2) Upstream of the Trout Inn - from the Wytham to Wolvercote road, take the private Thames Water road just before the A34 flyover - climb over the gate and walk upstream. Not far along there, there's a bend in the river and the road goes straight on towards the lock. A small footpath follows the bend and there's a secluded area where you can change. 3) About half a mile upstream of Pink Hill Lock, on a sharp bend there is a shallow area which is easy to get in and out of. Just upstream from here is a straight section with reinforced banks which is very like a swimming pool. Unfortunately it's impossible to get out of here except the place just downstream. A couple of ladders, one on either side, would be most welcome here. 4) Follow the dead-end road through the village of Eaton (off the Cumnor to Appleton road). Just before the end you can cut left and find some secluded places. I swam here one May morning at 6am. It was beautifully sunny but there was still frost on the grass and a mist coming off the warmer river water. 5) Upstream of the Maybush Inn, just south of Standlake. Follow the Thames upstream until you come to a fence and a stile. There are some large flat rocks here to help you get in and out. 6) From the riverside car park at Lechlade, walk upstream about a mile. There's a lovely bend here just before you reach the houses. Beware the tourist boats though!
Lake Bala, North WalesA sign by this lake says (in several different languages) "Warning.Take care - the lake is cold. Depth 100 feet - 20 yards from shore." It's almost positively inviting you in to have a swim! Swimming in the black waters of this lake is very refreshing. It can be a bit choppy, but nowhere near as bad as the sea.
North Sea, Gorleston-on-SeaAfter many a meeting in Great Yarmouth I have driven over here for a swim. The endless sandy beach with its dark groynes has a real openess about it. The (usually) grey sea eventually merges with the (also usually) grey sky. Although it's inviting you out there, not knowing the currents here I've never strayed too far from the beach.
Rhinog Mountains, North WalesLlyn Dyr and Llyn Hywel are wonderful lakes. There are several boulders just far enough below the surface of Llyn Dyr to perch or sit on whilst remaining submerged. Llyn Hywel was brilliant blue when I swam in it, though not far under the surface, a strange grey weed looks like giant cobwebs!
Llyn Cau, halfway up Cader Idris, North WalesProbably the most impressive lake I've swum in. If the temperature of the water hasn't done so already, then the sight of its boulder-strewn banks falling steeply away into the cold turquoise waters will take your breath away. It can get very wild here, so take some warm clothes for after.

When I'm not swimming wild, I'm likely to be found in the open air pool at Aylesbury (open all year round until 10pm), or, when it's open, at the Hinksey open air pool in Oxford. Both are well heated and chlorinated.