10 of the best wild swimming spots near London

Walk to a wild swimming spot – just a train ride away from central London. Here is our guide to 10 of the best wild swimming spots near London.

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The Kenwood Ladies Pond Association share their favourite places for a summer dip from their book Wild Swimming Walks, each with its own country ramble.

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Here is a guide to 10 of the best wild swimming spots near London.

1

Margate to Broadstairs, Kent

Broadstairs Beach, Kent
Broadstairs Beach, Kent ©Getty

Swim: in the renowned Walpole Bay sea pool.

Walk: A 6.5 mile coastal walk from Margate, where JMW Turner spent his holidays, to Broadstairs, loved and frequented by Charles Dickens.

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2

Chilworth to Guildford, Surrey

The River Wey Navigation, Send, Surrey, England
Trees reflected in the tranquil waters of the River Wey Navigation near Guildford, Surrey ©Getty

Swim: Look out for beautiful swimming places along the Wey Navigation – there are several.

Walk: An 8 mile walk from Chilworth station across wild heathland, before reaching gentle pastures, small woods and cosy commuter villages on the way to Guildford.

3

Kirby Cross, Essex

Kirby Cross and Frinton, Essex ©Margaret Dickinson
Kirby Cross, Essex

Swim: Along the shore the swimming is exceptional in the North Sea. The beaches are sandy and pleasant for sitting on too.

Walk: From Kirby Cross train station head to Frinton and walk around 5 miles along the coast towards Walton on the Naze, from where you can get a return train.

4

Goring and Streatley to Cholsey, Berkshire

Goring ©Sarah Saunders
Goring

Swim: in wide stretches of the Thames. Look out for good swimming spots at Streatley, before Moulsford,and just before Cholsey.

Walk: A glorious walk north from Goring along the Thames to Streatley Station, by open meadows, woody paths and a beautiful Brunel railway bridge.

5

Grantchester, Cambridgeshire

Grantchester, Cambridgeshire
Grantchester, Cambridgeshire

Swim in the clear waters and modest current of the River Cam. Expect crowds on the river in high summer, especially at weekends.

Walk: Shepreth Railway Station to Cambridge – 9.5 miles across farmland and riverbank, via the villages of Barrington, Harston, Haslingfield and Grantchester.

6

Rickmansworth Circular, Hertfordshire

Rickmansworth Circular, Hertfordshire
Rickmansworth Circular, Hertfordshire ©Natalie Start

Swim: in the River Colne, just after the footpath from Bury Lake reaches the river. The water is fast moving but fairly shallow.

Walk: A gentle 6 mile circular walk easily reached from London (it starts and ends at Rickmansworth Underground station) yet with a truly rural feel.

7

Folkestone to Dover, Kent

Folkestone Beach
Folkestone Beach ©Getty

Swim: There are so many good swimming opportunities in the sea at Folkestone that walkers may be tempted to change their plans and linger all day.

Walk: From Folkestone train station head east along the coast for 5 miles before following footpaths to Dover train station.

8

Manningtree Circular, Essex and Suffolk

Manningtree Circular, Essex and Suffolk
Manningtree Circular, Essex and Suffolk ©Liz Valentine

Swim: in the famous River Stour

Walk: a beautiful walk through Constable country from Manningtree train station, across Dedham Heath to the village and following the river back to where you began.

9

Hever to Leigh, Kent

River Medway, Kent
Walk from Hever to Leigh, with swim in River Medway, Kent

Swim: in the River Medway

Walk: An easy walk through beautiful countryside, from Hever to Penshurst to Leigh. You pass several places of historical interest along the way.

10

Port Meadow, Oxford

Oxford
River Thames, Oxford ©Sarah Saunders

Swim: in the River Thames

Walk: A gentle stroll around the historic water meadows that inspired Alice in Wonderland, and back along the Thames Path to Oxford. The path out of town runs along the Oxford Canal, lined with narrowboats.

Find out more

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Wild Swimming Walks: 28 lake, river and seaside days out by train from London by the Kenwood Ladies Pond Association (Wild Things Publishing, £14.99) is available from all good bookshops and www.wildthingspublishing.com