10 of the best wild swimming spots in Yorkshire
- Credit: Archant
Where to take the plunge with spectacular views
Janet’s Foss, Gordale Scare
Amongst some spectacular woodland, Janet’s Foss is a crystal-clear pool with a fairy-tale aura. This is the ideal spot for children and adults alike to take a swim adjacent to a breath-taking waterfall. The pool is also on the final stretch of a lovely walk around Malham Cove that we highly recommend!
From National Trust car park, cross the stream to right of Malham Smithy. Follow gravel path and signposts to Janets Foss through wooded Glen. Discover more here about the popular pool
Surrounded by impressive rock formations and looking towards the Lake District, Hell Gill is a scramble through a short limestone canyon in the North West of the Yorkshire Dales. Make your way through this slot-canyon and you’ll come to several pools between the eroded walls of this roofless cave that you can hop in for a cooling swim. A formation of drooping trees lines the top of the weathered walls and look down upon you in the pools and gorges. We recommend wet-boots, and a degree of scrambling experience for this spot as it can take some traversing at points.
From Garsdale Head follow B6259 (dir Kirkby Stephen) 4km and park by Hell Gill farm gate on right. See more here about the spectacular fall
Just north of Settle, outside the village of Stainforth, you’ll find Stainforth Force. A stunning set of waterfalls conclude in a picture-perfect pool, one of the Yorkshire Dales’ most prized areas of beauty. You’ll struggle to find a better place to take a refreshing dip amongst such picturesque scenery. Return in the autumn and you’ll witness the Atlantic salmon making their way up the River Ribble!
From the old Pack horse bridge outside of Stainforth and make your way down stream of the River. See here for this magical waterfall.
Ibbeth Peril and Hells Cauldron
This large plunge-pool in the bed of the seasonally dry River Dee is supposedly the place local witch Ibby would drown unfortunate nearby drunkards. Take a swim beneath the towering waterfall and explore the nearby caves and caverns. Attention should be paid to the weather as the pools can rise rapidly; only visit Ibbeth Peril after continuous good weather.
Between Dent and Cowgill (leave Dent signed Hawes/Ingleton via Newby Head). ½ mile west of LA10 5TQ, find a small turn into a car park area on the right with path and footbridge leading off. More here on this pool for the intrepid
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Wain Weth Force
In upper Swaledale, just west of Keld is the cascading beauty of Wain Weth Force. Originally translating to Wagon Ford, this waterfall and plunge pool is big enough for you to stretch out the legs and have a good swim. For those brave enough, the waterfall makes for the perfect diving platform for the pool below, but always check the water levels before jumping! The easy access to Wain Weth makes it a popular spot, with the water being just meters from the roadside parking spots.
Follow B6270 to Keld and parking is available on roadside. Find it here for an easy day’s trip
This section of the River Wharfe is perfect for a family day out in the sun. Appletreewick’s pools and eddies are unrivalled across the UK for their scenery and beauty. Along the river banks you’ll find swings and platforms for those daredevil plunges into the revitalising waters of this ancient Yorkshire Dales river.
From the craven arms follow the road 200m to the right, then follow a small path alongside the campsite to the river. Discover the beautiful village here for a memorable day.
This natural wonder is an incredible 100ft waterfall into an enticing limestone pool. It is said to be the highest unbroken waterfall in the whole of England, so stay clear of the falling water whilst swimming! Robin Hood was seen to be bathing underneath the waterfall in the original film, so you can replicate the relaxation yourself. Access to the force is via the Green Dragon Inn and costs £2.50 per adult (£1.50 for children).
Follow Bellow hill to the Green Dragon Inn in Hardraw. Take a trip here to this iconic fall
Downstream of the village of Keld, two spectacular waterfalls make up Kisdon Force, with each waterfall holding its own breath-taking pool. Hidden amongst woodland and greenery, this is the true wild swimming experience. The lower of the two waterfalls can get fairly spectacular, so always take care and be aware of the water levels when swimming here.
Follow the signposted route of the Pennine way to access Kisdon Force. The final descent is quite the scramble so make sure to use the rope provided.See more here - and take care!
Hugging the border separating Yorkshire and Lancashire is a circular trail comprising of some of the most spectacular waterfalls and woodland scenery that the dales has to offer. A five-mile round trip, the Ingleton waterfalls trail has a number of tempting plunge pools and swimming spots perfect for the whole family. All of the accessible plunge pools around Ingleton are on private land, with access to the waterfall trail being £7 for adults and £3 for children.
Ingleton Waterfalls Trail is located on the edge of the village of Ingleton, about 25 miles away from both Skipton and Kendal. It’s well sign-posted from the main A65 Skipton to Kendal road and is also easily accessible from Leeds and the M6. See here for more details
In the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, just away from Grassington, Ghaistrill’s Strid is an exciting run of rocky pools and rapids. This is the ideal spot to get the rubber rings out and glide your way down the river Wharfe. At the tail end of the rapids are some wonderful deep pools that are crystal clear. Bring along the snorkels and admire the underwater world of the Wharfe’s inhabitants.
Park in the National Park Car Park off the B6265. Turn left out of the car park and walk back towards the town centre. Continue past Main Street and bear left downhill towards the bridge. Do not cross the bridge, instead take the lane on the right adjacent to the ‘Welcome to Grassington’ sign. For more details on the lovely route.
Take the plunge and stay safe
Wild Swimming Clubs in Yorkshire
Wild swimming can be daunting to anyone who hasn’t yet taken the liberating plunge in to natural pools of water. Whether it is your first time, or you just enjoy the company, a wild swimming group is your best bet for experienced tips on your local spot as well as some reassurance of your safety.
This group of wild swimming fanatics share posts and photos of the western side of the Yorkshire Dales. It is a welcoming space to share info and questions about wild swimming in North Yorkshire. Everyone on this page is willing to share their knowledge of past experiences at pools and riffles in the area.
Social Media – Dales Dippers – Wild Swimming at www.facebook.com/groups/783541888674979
Wild Swimming in the Yorkshire Dales
Covering the entirety of the Yorkshire dales, this group is another welcoming space for enthusiasts and new-comers to share photos and posts of their wild swimming experiences. You’ll find information on the water levels and temperature of a number of swimming locations on here, so it’s important to keep up to date!
Social Media – Wild Swimming in the Yorkshire Dales at for friendly advice
Keeping up to date with the river levels is paramount to staying safe before venturing on your wild swimming adventure. The Gov.UK website has a handy page dedicated to the water levels of all rivers in the UK, be sure to check on these readings regularly.
Staying Safe Whilst Swimming
Only take to new bodies of wild swimming water if you are a confident swimmer. Shallow water can become deep very quickly, so scouting out the full extent of the water and setting clear boundaries for non-swimmers is a must. Always check water levels before jumping from heights in to pools, even if you have visited a spot before. Wearing wetsuits is advised as the cold water can sap your body heat very quickly. Wild swimming alone is never advised, no matter how confident a swimmer you are.