There’s something elemental about splashing around in rivers, lakes or waterfalls. It brings back memories of childhood summers, carefree and sunny. There’s a special pleasure in uncovering a secret, secluded spot to spend the day picnicking, paddling and leaping around in sparkling water. It’s all obvious stuff, but be aware of safety – only leap or dive into pools you know to be clear of hazards and of adequate depth, keep a close eye on really young kids, and be wary of places with unknown currents.
1 LOWER DDWLI FALLS, BRECON BEACONS This family-friendly series of more than 20 pools stretches along a five-mile stretch of the Fechan and Mellte rivers, and there are new delights around every corner. Swim among the rainbows and spray, wander through the woods, picnic and paddle some more. The main plunge pool at the bottom of a waterfall is good for younger swimmers, with some shallower areas around the edges. Downstream, at Horseshoe Falls, you’ll find another fairytale pool and rope swing. visitwales.com/things-to-do/activities/walking-hiking/waterfall-country
2 LINHOPE SPOUT, NORTHUMBERLAND Indecently pretty, the 60-foot Linhope Spout falls into a ‘bottomless’, circular plunge pot, legendary among local families for its 6-foot jump into the cool waters. Younger (or less brave) fans of wild water can content themselves with a paddle in the shallows. It’s a bit of a hike to get there – a mile and a half, but it’s very pretty, you can spot pheasants and dormice on the way up, and the haul is made easier with the knowledge of the cool paradise waiting at the top.
3 OVERBECK BRIDGE, WASTWATER, CUMBRIA (pictured) There are more wild swimming spots in the Lake District than minnows in Windemere, but this dreamy swimming spot is a smasher. It’s gently shelving beach means the water is warmish, and the shingle underfoot makes for glassily clear depths. It’s stunningly beautiful here – the soaring peaks of Scafell Pike and Scafell are reflected in the water, but it’s not difficult to get to – there’s space to park a stone’s throw away. The nearby Wasdale Campsite, run by the National Trust, is an inspiring place to stay, with heated camping pods and Nordic tipis with wood-burning stoves as well as regular pitches. nationaltrust.org.uk/features/wasdale-campsite Photo: Wild Guide to the Lakes and Dales (Wild Things Publising)
4 FRENSHAM GREAT POND, SURREY A lovely place to introduce kids to the joys of wild swimming, Frensham Great Pond has a 50m swimming area, toilets, a little cafe and a real sandy beach! Children can take their first strokes bobbing among the ducks and coots on the pond, and there’s plenty of space for picnics. You’ll find National Trust property Frensham Little Pond nearby, with its bird watching and pond-dipping opportunities, an old dam to explore and the Tern café, which serves home-made sandwiches and cakes. It’s an easy step from the south west of London – a countryside alternative to heading to Brighton for the day. Parking is free during the week. waverley.gov.uk/info/200073/parks_and_countryside/693/frensham_great_pond_and_common
5 THE FALLS OF FALLOCH, STIRLING Also known as Rob Roy’s Bathtub, the Falls of Falloch are a bracingly chilly, but stunningly beautiful place for a dive. The falls are set in a glen three miles from the village of Crianlarich, near Loch Lomond, and are just a short walk through a wood from the car park. Small children will enjoy the viewing platform that overlooks the falls, and older, braver kids jumping in from the rocks that surround the pools. It’s not particularly secluded – there’s a constant stream of tourists, especially in the summer, however, if you take time to explore the area – there are more pools downstream – you may find a more private spot. visitscotland.com/info/towns-villages/falls-of-falloch-p662871