The Peak District National Park spans over 555 square miles, encompassing the counties of Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, and Cheshire. Situated between Manchester and Sheffield, this enchanting region in England is adorned with charming villages, picturesque countryside, and inviting bodies of water, beckoning you to take a refreshing swim.
Due to its rural character, accessing many of the swimming spots mentioned here requires embarking on a countryside walk. It is important to bear in mind that none of the locations listed have lifeguards on duty. Therefore, it is crucial to be mindful of the risks associated with swimming in open water and to take necessary precautions to ensure your safety.
What do you need?
In order to ensure your safety while swimming in open water, it is important to be equipped with the right gear. It is crucial to be easily noticeable in the water, enabling rescue teams to locate you swiftly during emergencies. Wearing a brightly coloured swim cap and carrying a tow float or dry bag will greatly enhance your visibility while in the water.
The British weather is not consistently characterised by hot and sunny conditions, even during the summer season. Therefore, after your swim in cold open water, it is imperative to have the means to dry off and warm up. Since many of these swims are part of longer countryside walks, it is practical to bring a lightweight towel stored in a compact bag. Additionally, having a warm hat to wear after your swim can be quite useful.
Where to swim?
Just outside of Buxton is the Chee Dale walk along the River Wye. This walk through the gorge takes you across some magical stepping stones and past some stunning wild swimming spots. We recommend wearing some water shoes on your walk so that you can paddle in the shallow areas as well as enjoying your swims in the deeper areas of the river.
During its course through the rural landscape, the River Derwent meanders through the expansive grounds of Chatsworth House. Beyond its role as a picturesque destination for families seeking to delve into the grandeur of the historic mansion, explore the parklands, and savour a leisurely picnic, it also offers an exceptional opportunity for outdoor swimming. The river features sections with varying depths, providing convenient access points for entering and exiting the water. This characteristic makes it an ideal location for indulging in a refreshing swim in the deeper stretches, while simultaneously allowing young ones to frolic and paddle in the shallower areas.
Three Shires Head
The Three Shires Head is the exact location where the borders of Cheshire, Staffordshire, and Derbyshire intersect. At this point, the River Dane gracefully flows, forming a series of enchanting waterfalls and pools that make it a perfect destination for a refreshing wild swim during the summer. The water, cascading directly from the surrounding hills, boasts remarkable clarity, but brace yourself for its potentially chilly temperature.
To access this idyllic swimming spot, embark on the Three Shires Head circular walk. While there are various distances you can traverse to reach the captivating waterfalls and pools, we recommend the 3.8-mile stroll starting from Gradbach car park.
In the village of Youlgreave, by the River Bradford, lies a dedicated spot for wild swimming. This delightful location is perfect for enjoying a swim on your own, with friends, or even with children, as it features stone slabs that create a safe paddling area. It is crucial, though, to swim exclusively within the designated swimming zone. As for parking, the village offers a limited number of parking spaces. Therefore, it is advisable to park at Moor Lane car park, which is located a mile away from the swimming area, and enjoy a leisurely stroll to reach your destination.
Located in the northern region of the Derwent Valley area, prior to the River Derwent traversing through Howden Reservoir, Upper Derwent Reservoir, and Ladybower Reservoir, lies the Slippery Stones wild swimming plunge pool. Despite its modest swimming area and the need to exercise caution due to currents, this picturesque spot serves as a delightful pause for a refreshing swim during your stroll around the three reservoirs.
Blake Mere Pool
Nestled in the moorland, northeast of Leek, lies an enigmatic open water swimming pool. Legend has it that a woman resides within its depths, shrouded in mystery. Some claim she is the apparition of a submerged witch, while others believe she is a mermaid. However, it is important to note that this pool should not be mistaken for Mermaid's Pool near Kinder Scout, which is also rumoured to house a mermaid but is more challenging to reach.