Best places in Yorkshire for wild swimming

River Wharf at Bolton AbbeyRiver Wharf at Bolton Abbey
River Wharf at Bolton Abbey

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What better way to experience the great outdoors than by going wild swimming? Within the wilds of Yorkshire, you can take the plunge in a freezing pool or ride down some of the readily available rapids.

With searches for outdoor swimming increasing by 427 percent last summer₁, outdoor adventure experts at Blacks have revealed the best place to go wild swimming in the UK.

We recommend some of the best swimming spots that Yorkshire has to offer.

Gaddings Dam in West Yorkshire

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The site is nestled in the heart of Todmorden and is surrounded by stunning beach and marshland views. The views are accessed using a longer route or a steep trail that leads to the perfect spot.

The New Year Day’s tip is an annual event.

Once out of the water and back on land, there the Shepherds Rest Pub is perfect for a well-earned drink.

Bolton Abbey, near Skipton

Next to the picturesque ruins of Bolton Abbey, the lightly running River Wharfe is a favoured spot for wild swimming. The Abbey itself dates back to the 12th century and gives bathers a stunning backdrop. The river has stepping stones running across for ease of access from each bank. Although there are no water features for climbing, you will find a deeper section of the river near the stepping stones and the abbey that’s perfect for diving.

Kidson Force, Yorkshire Dales

A short walk down from the village of Keld in the Yorkshire Dales, Kisdon Force is a string of beautiful waterfalls along the River Swale.

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Down from the falls there are two deep pools. One is 164ft wide and sun-drenched in summer where you can swim or paddle. The second favours the bold – it’s a little further down and features a huge drop into a slightly darker, more isolated pool that’s perfect for plunging.

Appletreewick, North Yorkshire

One of the best-kept secrets for wild swimming in the Yorkshire Dales, Appletreewick is a scenic spot near the village of the same name.

Great fun for families, the river features rapids a little further upstream, which create a flume ideal for tubing.

A rope swing hangs off one of the banks, which the kids can have fun on. A small rocky island in the middle of the river offers a serene setting that’s perfect for picnicking.

Stainforth, Yorkshire Dales

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Set downriver from the village of Stainforth, the popular destination with families and local day trippers. The River Ribble runs over several waterfalls, before flowing into a deep pool at the bottom, offering swimmers a great platform for plunging or diving.

The river has grassy banks, where you can set up a picnic, and there are shallows nearby for younger children to paddle in.

Burnsall, River Wharfe, Yorkshire Dales

The River Wharfe is one of the best wild swimming rivers in the Dales, and Burnsall is one of its most popular wild swimming rivers, with pools and rapids.The little post office even sells rubber rings.

Loup Scar, River Wharfe, Yorkshire Dales

A fantastic stretch of grassy riverside incorporating river, meadow and beaches, with the limestone cliffs and the gorges of Loup Scar. There’s a terrifying jump here into a small very deep plunge pool.

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The village itself, below the bridge, is very busy, sometimes with hundreds of swimmers and families.

Janet’s Foss, Malham

The beautiful crystal-clear plunge pool is set in a wooded glen beneath a spectacular waterfall. It’s the perfect spot for families wanting to cool off. The cave up to the right is allegedly the home of Jennet, a fairy queen.

Yorkshire coast

Sea swimming is as wild as it gets. There are plenty of places along the coast where the quality of the water is higher enough for a dip or two. Scarborough’s North Bay, Bridlington and Whitby are among them. There are plenty of shops selling dinghies, tubes and lilos – just take care.

If you are tempted to go wild swimming, then be aware that you cannot just jump right in.

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Nataie Byrne, content marketing manager at Blacks, said: “It is important that you understand your swimming abilities. Wild swimming can be and is very dangerous if you have not trained properly. Always pay attention to “No Swimming” signs and even if you have been swimming in the same spot for years, always be cautious, as open bodies of water can change significantly.”