10 wild swimming spots close to London

Walk to a wild swimming spot – just a train ride away from central 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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1. Grantchester, Cambridgeshire

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• 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.

2. Kirby Cross, Essex

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• 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.

3. Chilworth to Guildford, Surrey

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• 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.  

4. Goring and Streatley to Cholsey, Berkshire  

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• 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. Rickmansworth Circular, Hertfordshire

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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.

6. Folkestone to Dover, Kent
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• 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.

7. Manningtree Circular, Essex and Suffolk

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• 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.

8. Hever to Leigh, Kent

Walk from Hever to Leigh, with swim in Medway.

• Swim: in the River Medway

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

9. Port Meadow, Oxford

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• 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.

10. Margate to Broadstairs Kent

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• 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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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

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