Wild swimming spots - and where to stay

Rachel Burge

On a hot summer day, what could be more refreshing than slipping into the cool waters of a secluded lake or braving the ice-tingling rush of a woodland waterfall?

Man swimming in sea
Man swimming in sea

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Swimming in the great outdoors offers the downstream traveller the chance to see the world from a whole new perspective - and emerge invigorated, liberated and feeling like new.

Veteran travel writer Dervla Murphy once wrote that she never regretted going for a swim but often regretted not doing so. Ready to take the plunge? Here's our pick of the best places to escape the crowds and cool off this summer...

Cornish Tipi Holidays

Imagine swimming in the crystal clear waters of an aquamarine lake, then heading back to your tipi to be greeted by the atmospheric smell of wood smoke and freshly caught trout sizzling on the campfire.

If swimming and sleeping in the great outdoors appeals but you like a little comfort too, a Cornish Tipi holiday could be just the thing.

A pioneer of luxury camping in Britain, the company boasts 40 authentic North American-style tepees scattered around a spacious 16-acre woodland site. At the centre lies a secluded lake - perfect for taking a solitary early morning dip or an afternoon wallow with the kids.

Open March-October. A tipi sleeping 2-7 costs £435-880 for a week or £320-£615 for a short break. Tel: 01208 880781 or visit www.cornishtipiholidays.co.uk.

Get wet and wild in Wales

The spectacular Gower Peninsula and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is home to some of the most breathtakingly beautiful caves, islands and secret beaches in Britain.

Explore the wild and hauntingly beautiful dunes at Harlech Beach, with its backdrop of mountains and a ruined castle, or take a swim at Mwnt cove, sited beneath a tiny remote church. Brave souls can venture to the Witch's Cauldron - a dramatic inland lagoon with a beach (formed when a massive sea cavern collapsed) accessible via various cave and waterfall entrances.

Once you've taken a dip, get warm and cosy at Cefn Coed, an end of row stone-built holiday cottage nestled in the centre of historic Harlech. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in character with original inglenook fireplaces, exposed beams and warm decor.

Cefn Coed sleeps 3 (one double, one single bedroom) and costs £610.00 for seven nights in summer.

Explore the goblin holes in Northumberland

Boasting some of the grandest beaches in Britain, the Northumberland coast is littered with ancient castles and tiny islands. Visit the extensive dunes of Lincolnshire and Cumbria in the south or head north and swim in the secluded wykes, goblin holes and dramatic sea caverns at Flamborough Head.

If you're feeling brave, take a dip in the waterfalls running down to Hayburn Wyke, a remote rocky bay with jungle-like foliage, or take a dip in one of the many rock pools near Bamburgh Castle's beach.

When you've finished exploring the grandeur of the coastline, dry off at Budle Hall – a grand Georgian country house with all the comforts of a family home. Situated by Budle Bay with views over the bay and the Cheviot, it's located just a mile away from Bamburgh with its historic castle and renowned beaches.

Bed and breakfast costs £45 per person per night for an en-suite room and £40 per person per night for the twin room with private bathroom. For more information Tel 01668 214 297 or email: info@budlehall.co.uk.

Wild swimming – where's safe to go?

Britain's rivers, lakes and waterfalls - not to mention coves, caves and beaches - are cleaner, safer and more accessible than ever before, according to the Environment Agency, who began a clean-up operation back in the seventies.

Safety must always be a top priority, especially if swimming with children, so do your research and check tide times and water quality before you strip off. Visit www.wildswimming.co.uk to check the quality of water ways in your area and discover more great swimming locations.

Do you love swimming outdoors? Leave your recommendation for places to go in the comments box below...