The Best Wild Swimming Locations in Cornwall


Cornwall, the southernmost county in the UK, is renowned for its breathtaking rural landscapes, idyllic sandy beaches, and picturesque coastal towns. This reputation has established Cornwall as a prime destination for indulging in the exhilarating activity of wild swimming.

Offering a plethora of options, ranging from secluded hilltop pools to concealed coastal enclaves, Cornwall presents an array of irresistible aquatic wonders. With an abundance of captivating locations to choose from, determining where to begin can be daunting. However, fear not, as we are here to assist you.

Below, you will find an exclusive selection of Cornwall's finest wild swimming spots to explore during the forthcoming summer season.

Swimming Safety

Swimming in open water is unpredictable and dangerous, so always take precautions. Be aware of the risks and know how to stay safe, such as learning how to escape rip currents when swimming in the sea.

Additionally, it's crucial to bring appropriate equipment with you. Tow floats, dry bags, and swim caps are essential for wild swimming as they make you more visible in the water. This not only lowers the risk of injury but also aids rescue teams in locating you faster during emergencies.

Holywell Bay

  • Location: Holywell
  • Summer lifeguards?: Yes

Discover the perfect wild swimming location at Holywell Bay, an enchanting spot owned by the National Trust. With its 1-mile sandy beach and towering 60ft dunes, it offers a serene setting for a refreshing sea swim, shielded from gusts of wind and choppy waters.

At low tide, the captivating allure of Holywell cave unveils itself, and as the tide recedes further, the remnants of a sunken Argentinean cargo ship, laden with coal from 1917, emerge from the depths and grace the shoreline.

Carn Marth

  • Location: Redruth
  • Summer lifeguards?: No

For those seeking an inland wild swim spot, Carn Marth could be the ideal choice. Situated atop a hill adorned with gorse and wildflowers, it provides breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area.

This former granite quarry boasts comparatively warmer waters during the summer, making it an inviting destination for outdoor swimming when the coastal spots are deemed unsafe due to rough seas.

Additionally, a central island within the quarry serves as a convenient resting spot for swimmers.

Portreath Beach

  • Location: Portreath
  • Summer lifeguards?: Yes

Portreath Beach provides various options for open water swimming.

When the sea is calm, you can easily enter the water from the sandy slope, making it perfect for outdoor swimmers and children who want to paddle.

For a more sheltered experience, there is a tidal pool located near the harbor wall on the right side of the beach. It allows you to enjoy a wild swim while still benefiting from the refreshing sea breeze.

Additionally, on the left side of the beach, you can explore and discover six smaller tidal pools. These pools were carved into the rocks during the 19th century to create bathing areas for Lady Frances Bassett.

Bossiney Cove

  • Location: Bossiney
  • Summer lifeguards?: No

Located on Cornwall's northern coast, close to the historic village of Tintagel, lies Bossiney Cove, also known as Bossiney Haven.

This charming cove boasts a stunning sandy beach that is perfect for exploring on foot during low tide.

However, if you're seeking an exhilarating wild swim, it's advisable to time your plunge with high tide. When the sea is tranquil and the tide is at its peak, you can enjoy a swim through the rock arch on the left-hand side of the beach, known as Elephant Rock.

Accessing this beach requires a steep half-mile hike from the car park and restroom facilities, making it unsuitable for families with strollers.

River Fowey

  • Location: Bodmin
  • Summer lifeguards?: No

The Lanhydrock Estate, located near Bodmin in Cornwall, is a picturesque property owned by the National Trust.

It features the beautiful River Fowey running through its grounds, offering delightful riverside walks, enchanting bridges, and a selection of captivating outdoor swimming pools.

The river water is crystal clear and can be slightly stronger in this area, reaching depths of 2 meters at certain points, providing an ideal setting for experienced wild swimmers seeking a more challenging experience.

What sets this swimming spot apart is the availability of restroom facilities and a cafe, allowing swimmers to warm up after their swim with a comforting beverage and a snack.

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