Five places to wild swim in London

April 23, 2024

Wild swimming has become a hugely popular pastime for people in recent years, largely due to the mental health benefits it possesses.

While we’ve long known that swimming is good for both physical and mental health, wild swimming seems to take it up a notch, and many healthcare professionals are now recommending it to those struggling with a variety of conditions, from depression and anxiety to those going through private drug treatment, cancer, and a range of other illnesses as a way to cope with the symptoms, struggles and stresses.

Across London there are some great spots to enjoy some wild swimming, from jumping in the Thames (at centres, not anywhere!) to some tranquil and peaceful spots away from the hustle and bustle.

If you’re considering wild swimming, here are five great spots across the capital for you to dip your toes in…

Hampstead Heath Ponds

Hampstead Heath is one of the spots in North London that many people turn to in order to relax and escape the city. It’s a place full of nature and it’s also home to three swimming ponds for people to enjoy. There’s a ladies only pond, a mixed pond and one for men, all of which are nestled amidst lush greenery.

It’s peaceful, calming and one of the most serene settings in London for wild swimming enthusiasts to really escape in.

Serpentine Lido

Heading into the city now, the Serpentine in Hyde Park is iconic across the world and also a great spot for open water swimming. There are always classes and groups going on and it’s a perfect spot for beginners.

On a sunny day it’s ideal for a dip at lunchtime, or to wile away the day, enjoying a dip and then a relax on the lakeside beach, enjoying a picnic and day with friends and family.

Shadwell Basin

Located near Tower Bridge, Shadwell Basin is a bit of a hidden gem and provides wild swimming in the historic dock area. The waters are calm and alongside wild swimming you can also enjoy paddleboarding and kayaking.

For those looking for more of an urban setting, there’s no better place, with the history of London all around you, yet you still get that calmness, away from the hustle and bustle. It’s really rather unique.

King’s Stairs Gardens

Nestled along the River Thames in Rotherhithe, King’s Stairs Gardens is a tranquil riverside park with access to the water for swimming. This secluded spot offers a peaceful retreat away from the city crowds, providing swimmers with the opportunity to enjoy a dip in the river’s calm waters. King’s Stairs Gardens is favoured by local wild swimmers and offers stunning views of Canary Wharf and Tower Bridge. While wild swimming here requires careful consideration of tides and currents, it’s a rewarding experience for those seeking a secluded and picturesque swim spot in London.

West Reservoir Centre

Located in Stoke Newington, the West Reservoir Centre offers a unique opportunity for open water swimming in a controlled environment. This former water supply reservoir now serves as a dedicated open water swimming venue, complete with changing facilities and safety measures. Swimmers can enjoy designated sessions in the expansive reservoir, surrounded by scenic views of the nearby woodland and wetlands. The West Reservoir Centre provides a safe and regulated setting for wild swimming enthusiasts of all skill levels to enjoy a refreshing swim in London.