The 5 best spots for wild swimming in Somerset

Claverton Weir in the sunshine, the water cascades off the side and is surrounded by trees.

Claverton Weir is a great spot for a swim and a picnic - Credit: Rob Williams, Flickr

With the popularity of wild swimming increasing, we've put together our five favourite places to go for a dip across the county. 

We all know that Somerset is an idyllic place to explore with plenty of things to do off the beaten track. Whilst many flock to the beach during the summer months, elsewhere there are still many places where you can take to the water but still avoid most of the crowds. Wild swimming is simply swimming but in any natural pool or body of water. It has grown in popularity over the past 12 months as many swimming pools and leisure centres have been closed, forcing people to come up with inventive alternatives. 

You don't need any specialist gear although many choose to wear a wetsuit due to the lack of heating! We also encourage any swimmers to keep an eye on water levels and currents where appropriate to ensure their safety. Do also remember to practice social distancing where necessary.

So, in no particular order, here are our five favourite places to dip your toes. Many of these are family friendly too so can be a great way to spend a day during the summer holidays.

Farleigh Hungerford

We're starting with possibly the most popular spot on our list to go swimming and it's not difficult to see why. This is a beautiful stretch of river where you can safely swim with a carpark, changing huts, and a portaloo nearby. There is a reason this is such a perfect spot and that is because it belongs to one of the country’s last river-swimming clubs. This does mean there is a fee for swimming here which all goes towards the upkeep of the area. Day tickets can be purchased for as little as £2 and there are also season memberships if you're planning on going back more regularly. 

You can find out more on the Farleigh and District Swimming Club website.

Tarr Steps

Our editor recommends this spot for a great free day out with the family this summer, thanks to its shallow and gentle waters - great for throwing off your shoes and having a splash. Clapper Bridge is normally the busiest spot due to the accessibility it offers, but a short walk upstream will lead you to a deeper pool where it's possible to swim. The grassy banks are perfect for a picnic too or you can go for a beautiful walk around the Exmoor National Park.

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Claverton Weir

Another popular location is this weir on the River Avon. Walk along the beautiful canal until you can drop down to the weir where there is a mix of water depths to suit everyone's ability and confidence levels. If it's busy, just keep walking until you find a quieter spot, there's enough room for everybody. If the kids need to recharge before diving back in, you can watch the boats on the canal or wave at trains passing nearby. 

Cow Castle

Back to Exmoor now for some breath-taking scenery at our next wild swimming spot. Cow Castle is an Iron Age hill fort which the River Brue runs alongside. Here you'll find an idyllic small pool which is perfect for a quiet swim thanks to its remote location - you'll need to walk a ways to access this one. Dry off on the bank and take in the view before exploring the history of the area.

Clevedon Marine Lake

Our last location for wild swimming takes you onto the coast to a tidal infinity pool that is truly a unique place to relax and cool off. Every summer, the tide from the Bristol Channel fills this walled pool which makes it a great place for families to enjoy the sea in safety. Whilst owned by the council, it is maintained by the Marlens charity so do think about making a donation on your visit - the lake is free to use. At its deepest, the pool gets to around 2.5 meters so you can also hire boats as well as swim. 

Learn more about what's on offer here. 

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