The Best Places for Outdoor Swimming in Norfolk

Norfolk County, situated along the eastern coast of England, is renowned for its picturesque coastline, delightful towns, and expansive water systems. These characteristics make it a perfect destination in the UK for those interested in wild swimming. Whether you prefer meandering rivers, serene lakes, or beautiful beaches, you'll always find yourself in close proximity to your next beloved outdoor swimming location.

Nevertheless, it is crucial to acknowledge the potential hazards associated with outdoor swimming. Prior to embarking on an adventure in open water, ensure that you familiarise yourself with safety guidelines and advice.


Little Ouse River

  • Location: Santon Downham
  • Supervised?: No

When you park your vehicle in Santon Downham and take a leisurely stroll down to St. Helen's picnic site, you'll come across a few sandy beach spots where you can access the Little Ouse River. This delightful stretch of water, surrounded by lush trees, allows you to swim in either direction for miles. Whether you desire a refreshing quick dip while on your picnic or a lengthier river swim, you'll thoroughly enjoy this enchanting tree-lined expanse of water.

River Bure

  • Location: Wroxham
  • Supervised?: No

Caen Meadow in Wroxham offers a delightful sandy beach area that gently slopes into the River Bure, creating an ideal spot for a spontaneous wild swim. The proximity of this swim location to a picturesque meadow allows you to combine your swim with a pleasant family picnic or even a leisurely dog walk.

It's important to note that boats frequently navigate along this river. To ensure your safety in the water, we highly recommend wearing a brightly coloured swim cap and utilising a tow float or dry bag. These precautions will significantly enhance your visibility to boats in the vicinity, thereby increasing your overall safety while enjoying your swim.

River Tas

  • Location: Shotesham Ford
  • Supervised?: No

If you're seeking a river that offers both a designated paddling area and a separate spot for swimming, then the River Tas at Shotesham Ford is the ideal destination. Here, you can let the kids delight in a refreshing dip in the shallow paddling area, while you take a swim in the deeper pool situated in the middle of the river. Although the swimming area is compact, you can still enjoy a couple of laps around the deeper section. The allure of the overhanging trees and the convenience of the nearby shallow paddling area make it a worthwhile experience.

River Wensum

  • Location: Anderson’s Meadow, Norwich
  • Supervised?: No

Located in the city center of Norwich, Anderson's Meadow is a charming park bordered on its south side by the River Wensum. To access this river, the recommended entry point is off the slipway across from the Eagle Canoe pub. However, please exercise caution as the current in the River Wensum can be strong. We advise swimming here only if you are a confident and experienced river swimmer.

For your safety, we highly recommend swimming with others. If you don't have anyone to join you for a wild swim, you have the option to join the Norfolk and Norwich Swimmers Club. They organize and enjoy wild swims along the River Wensum, providing a supportive and communal environment for outdoor swimming enthusiasts.


Fairhaven Water Gardens

  • Location: South Walsham
  • Price: £24 annual membership
  • Swim course length: 200m & 400m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Brightly coloured swim cap & tow float/bag

Spanning over 130 acres of exquisite woodland and water, Fairhaven Water Gardens provides access to the scenic South Walsham Broads. By obtaining an annual membership for Fairhaven Gardens at a cost of £24, you can enjoy unlimited swims during supervised swim sessions without any additional charges. Upon your initial swim, the team will assess your ability to swim unassisted to ensure your safety. Once approved, you are welcome to swim freely along the 200m or 400m circuits around the captivating waters.

Whitlingham Country Park

  • Location: Norwich
  • Price: £5
  • Swim course length: 75m, 400m, & 800m
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Brightly coloured swim cap & wetsuit

If you're seeking an open water swimming venue specifically designed for triathlon training rather than recreational swimming, look no further than the lake at Whitlingham Country Park. Tri-Anglia organizes summer swim sessions here, catering to triathlon enthusiasts. To participate in these training sessions, which include access to the 75m, 400m, and 800m swim circuits, a pre-booking is required, and the cost is £5 per session. After your swim, you can enjoy hot drinks; however, it's important to bring your own cup.

When swimming at this venue, it is mandatory to wear a swim cap. Tri-Anglia implements a color-coded swim cap system, so it's crucial to select the appropriate cap. For instance, junior or novice swimmers must wear a purple cap, swimmers with permission to swim without a wetsuit must wear a bright green cap, and regular swimmers must wear a red cap. If you're unsure which colour swim cap you should wear, feel free to reach out to Tri-Anglia for guidance.


With its extensive 90-mile coastline, Norfolk offers a plethora of breathtaking beaches to discover. However, when it comes to sea swimming, it's crucial to prioritize safety by choosing beaches supervised by lifeguards. Among the Norfolk beaches, we highly recommend Cromer, Sheringham, and Mundesley, which all boast lifeguard services. After your invigorating swim, you can enjoy a comforting beverage at the nearby cafes.

When engaging in sea swimming, it's essential to be mindful of currents. We encourage you to read our blog post on rip currents, which provides valuable information on how to identify and safely navigate them.

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