Scotland boasts an abundance of breathtaking wild swimming spots scattered across its countryside, mountains, and coastline.
While every spot is deserving of recognition for its beauty, it would be impossible to cover them all. Which is why, we have handpicked our favourite wild swimming island, loch, and beach to provide you with a glimpse of Scotland's offerings.
When engaging in open water swimming in Scotland, it is crucial to bear in mind that the water tends to be colder. Thus, adequate preparation, knowledge of safety measures, and the right equipment are essential. For instance, wearing a full-length wetsuit and a swim cap can offer some protection against the chilly water.
Equally important is carrying safety equipment to enhance your visibility in the water. Increased visibility not only ensures your safety around watercraft but also facilitates faster rescue during emergencies. So, what equipment should you bring? The key item to have is a brightly coloured tow float or a dry bag. Additionally, a brightly coloured swim cap can be advantageous.
Best Island - Isle of Arran
While there are countless wild swimming spots throughout Scotland, discussing all of Arran's stunning locations would be time-consuming. Hence, let's explore our personal favourites. With an abundance of picturesque beaches along the entire coast of Arran, you'll be spoiled for choice.
However, we particularly recommend the sandy shores of Blackwaterfoot, Kildonan, Brodick, and Sannox for a delightful swimming experience.
Additionally, the bays of Lochranza, offering views of the castle, and Lamlash, providing vistas across to Holy Isle, are equally captivating. When venturing into the sea around Arran, exercise caution as jellyfish can be present. We advise wearing swimming gloves, socks, and a full-length wetsuit for added protection.
In terms of rivers and glens, Glen Rosa is an absolute must-visit. You can either embark on a walk from Brodick or park near Glen Rosa Campsite and follow the riverside footpath.
Along Glenrosa Water, you'll encounter multiple swimming pools, including the famous Blue Pools.
Another delightful river swimming spot can be found near the village of Sannox. Begin your adventure by parking at Sannox beach and taking a scenic walk up Glen Sannox, where you'll discover various pools along the footpath.
If luck is on your side, you may even spot a deer or two. Seeking a swimming location without a lengthy walk? Head towards North Sannox by turning off the A841 towards the North Sannox picnic spot.
Park your vehicle in one of the roadside spaces before the bridge, then follow the small footpath adjacent to the bridge, leading you to the river. After a short stroll, you'll encounter a bench and a charming rocky beach next to a pool in North Sannox Burn.
This pool is formed by a series of small waterfalls spanning the river's width, but take care as the larger rocks can be slippery when exploring the area.
Best Loch Swim - Loch Leven
Scotland boasts a vast array of more than 30,000 lochs, many of which serve as idyllic locations for wild swimming.
Among these, renowned names like Loch Ness and Loch Lomond stand out. However, our personal favourite for wild swimming is Loch Leven.
This captivating tidal sea loch lies adjacent to Loch Linnhe, connected by the Ballachulish Bridge in North Ballachulish, and stretches all the way to Kinlochleven.
With its shallower depths and enhanced safety for swimming, combined with breathtaking scenery, Loch Leven offers an irresistible experience, particularly for nature enthusiasts.
The most favourable entry points into the loch are the Isle of Glencoe and the West Pier in the village of Ballachulish.
Additionally, Ballachulish provides convenient amenities for swimmers, such as a car park, restroom facilities, and cafes.
It is crucial, however, to remain vigilant and heed any warning signs regarding the occasional presence of toxic blue-green algae blooms in the loch. If such signs are posted, it is essential to refrain from swimming in the water.
Best Beach Swim - Camusdarach Beach
Located on the western coast of the Scottish Highlands, just below the River Morar estuary, lies a series of captivating sandy beaches, with Camusdarach Beach standing out as the finest among them.
With its white sands, serene crystal-clear waters, convenient parking area, and natural protection from strong gusts by its curved shape and prominent headlands, this beach offers a remarkable experience.
While some are drawn to it for its connection to the 1983 film "Local Hero," which was filmed here, others are simply captivated by its breathtaking beauty and panoramic vistas encompassing the islands of Eigg, Rum, and Skye.