A Swim on the Wild Side

Pebbled Beach with man entering water

29th June 2018

Update 04/21: Head over to our newest blog to find out more about wild swimming here!

The sun will be out in Kent this weekend, and what better way to cool off than to take a dip in one of the many lakes, rivers and bays around the county? Explore Kent has got you covered with top wild swimming locations and safety tips, so you can dive into summer.

What is wild swimming?

Wild swimming is swimming outdoors in the natural environment, instead of a chlorinated indoor or outdoor swimming pool. This is swimming as it’s meant to be, feeling at one with nature with the sun on your face. The health benefits of exercising in nature are widely documented; improving mood, relieving stress and lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. Swimming in nature must be practiced safely however!

Where can I swim?

Here are some top locations for a spot of wild swimming this weekend.

Leybourne Lakes

This is a top destination in Kent for open water swimmers, but you must first pass an induction before you can swim in the lake, which is deep and cold. If that doesn’t put you off, then you’ll enjoy an invigorating swim surrounded by green flag award winning Leybourne Lakes Country Park. You’ll see plenty of birdlife and dragonflies skimming the surface of the lake.

Minnis Bay

Perfect for a spot of family fun, this sandy beach has lots to offer. With part of the sea walled off into a paddling pool, even smaller children can enjoy a wild splash around! Meanwhile adults can enjoy a swim out to sea. During peak months the bay is patrolled by lifeguards, so this is a safe placed to swim, just watch out for windsurfers! If you want to see more of this stretch of coast, try our Minnis Bay to Reculver Country Park walk.

St Margaret’s Bay

This peaceful shingle beach is hidden away amongst huge chalk cliffs and is an ideal place for a swim on a warm summer’s day. Swim out a little way and glance back to see the beauty of the Kent coast in its full glory. Why not stop and cool off here while walking the St Margaret’s Bay Walk or, if you’re up for a challenge, the Saxon Shore Way?

River Stour

Swimming in rivers is not recommended for inexperienced swimmers or children. Currents can vary, surfaces are often rocky and slippery, and rivers are not monitored by lifeguards. Experienced swimmers can enter the River Stour in several places, including a mooring platform near the Fordwich Arms. This a lovely place to swim amongst wildlife, with fish visible in the clear water. Follow up your swim with a gentle walk to Reed Pond.

If you are interested in finding more wild swimming locations check out wildswim.com

Swim safe!

To stay safe while you swim outdoors, keep these handy tips in mind:

  1. Be aware of tides and currents – if you’re swimming in rivers or the sea then the water can have strong currents. Make sure you know where you can get out if you’re pulled downstream, and make sure weaker swimmers and children stay close to shore.
  2. Watch your footing – getting in and out of the water the footing can be tricky, from slippery surfaces to loose rocks.
  3. Cold water – the water in lakes and rivers can be especially cold. Don’t stay in too long or you’ll be at risk of hypothermia – if your teeth start chattering it’s time to get out and warm up!
  4. No jumping or diving – you can’t judge the depth of water just by looking, so don’t risk jumping in and finding out it was shallower than you thought.
  5. Take a friend – swimming outdoors is safer if you have a friend, or if you’re visiting a swimming spot with active lifeguards.

To learn more about open water swimming safety, as well as clubs and venues visit nowca.org

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