Best Wild Swimming Spots in Oxfordshire

As the Covid-19 lockdowns took place, the popularity of open water swimming has soared. Consequently, numerous individuals are now seeking out nearby locations for wild swimming. For those residing in or around Oxfordshire, a multitude of options for open water swimming are available to enjoy. Whether it's the allure of outdoor swimming lakes or the opportunity to swim in the pristine waters of the River Thames before it winds its way through the capital city, this list is sure to help you discover your next beloved swimming spot.

However, it is crucial to understand the potential hazards and learn how to ensure your safety while swimming in open water.


Queenford Lakes

  • Location: Dorchester-on-Thames
  • Price: £6.75-8
  • Swim course length: 400m, 750m, & 1km
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Bright coloured swim hat & tow float/bag

Managed by the Oxford Wakeboard & Ski Club, Queenford Lakes offers a variety of water activities, including open water swimming. It serves as an excellent venue for training for your upcoming triathlon event, boasting a 2.2km running track surrounding the lake. If you prefer a more relaxed swim, there are three circuit lengths available: 400m, 750m, and 1km.

The lake is supervised by a dedicated safety team, and on-site facilities such as showers and toilets are provided. It is essential to make a prior reservation for swimming sessions. For individuals with NOWCA membership (which is highly recommended), the swim fee is £6.75. However, if you prefer to swim as a guest without membership, the cost will be £8.

Bicester Outdoor Performance Lake

  • Location: Bicester
  • Price: £7
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Bright coloured swim hat & tow float/bag

Bicester Outdoor Performance Lake is located southwest of Bicester, within the premises of Bicester Hotel. This picturesque lake spans 200 meters in length and boasts an average depth of 2 meters, making it an ideal destination for wild swimmers of all proficiency levels. With the presence of an RLSS lifeguard overseeing the lake, you can have peace of mind knowing that assistance is readily available should you encounter any difficulties in the water. Whether you lack confidence in open water or are new to swimming outdoors, this venue offers lessons specifically designed to help you develop your wild swimming technique, catering to individuals of all swimming experience levels.

River Thames


Are you searching for a location along the River Thames where you can enjoy swimming for long distances? The area near Shillingford offers a suitable option as the river current is relatively slow, providing an ideal environment for a leisurely swim. Our recommendation is to begin your swim at the picnic spot located north of the Shillingford Hotel. To reach this spot, simply park your vehicle at the Shillingford Hotel (please note that cash is required for parking) and take a 15-minute walk along the western bank of the river.

Port Meadow

Port Meadow Country Park in Oxford offers a stunning location for an open water swim, as the River Thames flows through it from Wolvercote to Jericho. Whether you prefer a brief refreshing dip or a longer swim, you have options at Port Meadow. The water near Godstow car park is shallower, while deeper water can be found further down the western bank. Whatever your swimming preferences, Port Meadow is the perfect destination.

Buscot Weir

Buscot Weir is the most upstream swimming spot featured in this list along the River Thames. This location offers a serene and picturesque setting for outdoor swimming, thanks to the presence of a weir that forms a pool within the river. The swim-friendly characteristics of Buscot Weir include minimal current, shallow edges for easy entry, a deep central area for swimming, and the surrounding natural beauty. Managed by the National Trust, the land provides convenient amenities such as a car park, toilets, and a nearby tearoom, ensuring a pleasant experience for visitors.

Clifton Hampden

Embark on a leisurely walk through the picturesque village of Clifton Hampden, and you will encounter the tranquil waters of the River Thames. Whether you choose to swim upstream, passing beneath the Clifton Hampden bridge towards the lock, or prefer a downstream swim amidst the scenic backdrop of trees and fields, you'll find numerous gravel entry points on both sides of the river. These accessible areas make it effortless to begin your swim and relish in the beauty of the River Thames.

Minster Lovell

As a bonus addition to our list, we present a delightful wild swimming spot nestled in the River Windrush, which eventually merges with the River Thames. Located in the charming village of Minster Lovell, this spot offers a serene swimming experience, where you can leisurely navigate past rows of trees and the 15th-century ruined manor house that stands alongside the river. A mere 5-minute walk from Minster Lovell church leads you to a shallower section of the river, providing an ideal entry and exit point for your water adventure.

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