STANDFIRST: It’s no secret that Cornwall is home to some of the UK’s most breathtaking wild swimming spots. From hidden coves to tranquil rivers, each location brings with it not only the opportunity to enjoy a cold water dip, but also a chance to embark on walks through Cornwall’s stunning landscapes. LYDIA PALESCHI, co-author of A Guide to Wild Swimming in Cornwall shares some of her favourite wild swimming walks with us.

Enjoy a dip in the Fal estaury at Little and Great MolunanEnjoy a dip in the Fal estaury at Little and Great Molunan (Image: Max Campbell)

St Anthony Head Circular

Distance: 5.9 miles, or shorten to 3.4 miles

Swim at: Little and Great Molunan

Best for: Views over the Fal River

Park at St Anthony Head National Trust Car Park and follow the coastline clockwise to soak up the serenity of the Percuil River. Next, head inland for a short walk to the other side of the peninsula to enjoy views of the English Channel. From here, follow the coast path south past Porthbeor and back to the starting point. Porthbeor is a fantastic beach, however coastal erosion makes access to the sand tricky. For that reason, Little and Great Molunan are the preferred options for swimming and because the fields above them offer unrivalled views of the Fal Estuary. If you prefer to opt for the shorter walk, cut inland and past St Anthony Church to join the coast path at Porthbeor sooner.


The serene banks of the Helford River are perfect for wild swimming fromThe serene banks of the Helford River are perfect for wild swimming from (Image: Max Campbell)

Durgan & Helford Passage

Distance: 3.7 miles

Swim at: Durgan Beach

Best for: Tranquil scenery

Park at Bosveal car park and make your way through the woods towards the beautiful Helford River. The water is fringed by ancient oak trees which bring with them a sense of peacefulness. Follow the road down towards the pretty hamlet of Durgan, where you can enjoy a swim in the tranquil waters either towards the start or the end of your walk. Continue through Glendurgan Gardens and into the fields on the other side, for elevated views over the Helford River. After a short while you will reach Helford Passage and the Ferry Boat Inn, where you can stop for refreshments. This is an out-and-back route, so the return journey follows the way you came.


Spot the 'Song of the Sea' arch at NanjizalSpot the 'Song of the Sea' arch at Nanjizal (Image: Max Campbell)

Land’s End and Nanjizal Circular

Distance: 3.7 miles

Swim at: Nanjizal Beach

Best for: Rugged coastline

Park your car at the UK’s most southwesterly point – Land’s End – before strolling along some of Cornwall’s most spectacular coastline. This route takes you through a Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, offering stunning views of Land’s End, Pordenack Point, and Nanjizal Bay. Keep an eye out for seals in the coves below and Cornwall’s national bird, the chough. Time your visit to arrive at high tide and strip off for a swim at Nanjizal Beach, famous for its ‘song of the sea’ arch. For the return route, head back to the cliffs above the beach and follow the path inland. Make your way across farmer’s fields until you return to Land’s End.


Carbis BayCarbis Bay (Image: Max Campbell)

St Ives to Carbis Bay

Distance: 2.8 miles

Swim at: Carbis Bay

Best for: Family day out

Park your car at St Erth railway station before enjoying one of the UK’s most scenic train routes. Disembark at St Ives before making your way along the South West Coast Path towards Carbis Bay. Along the way you can enjoy far-reaching views over turquoise waters. In the summer the hedges are full of wildflowers and subtropical flora and fauna. This route is perfect for the whole family to enjoy and Carbis Bay is a lovely spot for a picnic mid-walk. The beach there is sheltered in most weather, making it a great spot for a paddle or a dip. Afterwards, head back the way you came to St Ives and catch the return train to St Erth. It’s best to avoid parking in St Ives in the summer because it’s rare to find a space.


Daymer BayDaymer Bay (Image: Getty)

Polzeath & Daymer Bay Circular

Distance: 3.7 miles

Swim at: Daymer Bay

Best for: Spotting shipwrecks

Park your car in Polzeath and follow the coast path towards Daymer Bay. Along the way, keep an eye out for shipwrecks near the Doom Bar and at low tide see what creatures you can spot in the rock pools. After Trebetherick Point, descend to Daymer Bay to enjoy a dip in the clear waters. Or, if you’re feeling energised, treat yourself to an open water swim. From here, walk through the sand dunes to St Enodoc Church, which was once buried in sand and accessed via the roof. The route then heads back inland, across fields and golf courses to reach your starting point.


Soak up the coastline which inspired the literary works of Daphne Du Maurier's, RebeccaSoak up the coastline which inspired the literary works of Daphne Du Maurier's, Rebecca (Image: Max Campbell)

Fowey to Polridmouth Circular

Distance: 4.7 miles

Swim at: Readymoney Cove

Best for: Fans of literature

Soak up the coastline which inspired the literary works of Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, whilst enjoying the stunning scenery of the Fowey Estuary. This figure of eight route follows St Catherine’s Parade to Readymoney Cove, past the crumbling ruins of a Tudor fortress. The cove is perfect for swimmers and snorkellers looking to enjoy Cornish waters. From here, continue towards Polridmouth cove. At the back of the beach is Menabilly estate and the Georgian mansion that was home to Du Maurier from 1943 to 1969. Next, follow the footpath to join the Saint’s Way back to Readymoney Cove. Here, follow the waterfront to Fowey and then back to your starting point via the church.

A Guide to Wild Swimming in Cornwall by Lydia PaleschiA Guide to Wild Swimming in Cornwall by Lydia Paleschi (Image: Courtesy of Lydia Paleschi)


Please note that some of these beaches do not have lifeguards so you must enter the water with caution. Only swim if you feel confident, stay close to the shoreline and always swim with others. For more information on these swimming locations and swimming safety, read A Guide to Wild Swimming in Cornwall and visit A Guide to Wild Swimming in Cornwall includes 54 of the best swimming locations in Cornwall, complete with a detailed safety section, insights on the ocean environment, and information on both the mental and physical health benefits of cold water immersion.