Swimming in open water is a thrilling experience and is quickly becoming more popular due to the closure of swimming pools during Covid lockdowns. With summer just around the corner, adventurers are on the lookout for natural wild swimming spots to explore in Hampshire. Whether it's a quick dip in The Solent, or discovering the ruins of Old Burley, there are plenty of places to jump in and cool off. It’s important to always remember safety when taking part in open water swimming - understanding hazards such as strong currents and underwater obstacles can be key to an enjoyable wild swimming experience.
Location: Southsea, Portsmouth
Supervised?: In summer
Beach type: Shingle
Southsea beach is a picturesque location that boasts almost 4 miles of coastline from Old Portsmouth to Eastney, making it an ideal spot for a quick swim. During the summer months, the beach is monitored by lifeguards between the Pyramids and Eastney Beach, making it the safest area to swim in this region. However, it is important to be aware of any warning signs and only swim between the red and yellow flags, as with any other beach.
While Southsea Beach is generally safe for swimming, there are some sections that are not recommended for this activity. Specifically, swimming is not advised in the areas surrounding the Blue Reef Aquarium and Hovertravel. Additionally, the beach rapidly slopes into the sea, so caution must be exercised, especially by those who are not experienced swimmers. The water can quickly become quite deep, so it is advisable to remain close to the shore unless you are an experienced swimmer and prepared for the colder, deeper water.
Beach type: Shingle/sand
Milford Beach, located in the New Forest area of Hampshire, is a particular hotspot for swimming. We highly recommend swimming at the spots marked by two car parks - Hurst Road and Hordle Cliff West - as these are deemed to be the safest places to swim, offering great views across to the Isle of Wight. But bear in mind there are no lifeguards here, so it’s important to take extra caution as waves can become unpredictable. Before entering the water, ensure you check the weather and sea conditions, as they could affect your safety while swimming. With these tips in mind, visitors should have an enjoyable time tackling the waves that Milford Beach has to offer!
Beach type: Salt-marshes
If you’re looking for a unique and exciting swimming experience, the Tanners Lane location in the New Forest area is definitely worth a visit. While you won’t find a traditional beach here, this spot offers something special - a gentle slope to the sea surrounded by saltmarshes. Unfortunately, because of its distance from the water, this swimming spot can only be accessed at high tide. No facilities and no lifeguards mean visitors must take extra precautions when visiting, such as wearing swim shoes for protection and comfort. Whether you are looking for an adventurous aquatic excursion or just some relaxation on a hot day, the Tanners Lane spot offers something special that is sure to please.
Swim course length: 400m, 750m, & 1200m
Requirements: Bright coloured swim cap and a wetsuit or tow float/bag
Swimming in Ellingham Lake is a refreshing and rewarding experience. Whether you're a novice or an expert, eager for a short dip or ready for a long swim, the Ellingham Water Ski and Wakeboard Club runs open water swimming sessions from April to October. You can pre-book your session through the Actio app and gain access via the NOWCA wristband system - no induction is necessary. With courses available that vary from 400m to 1200m - including circuits for those wanting to swim loops – there’s something for everyone. Private coaching sessions are also on offer if you want to step into open water swimming with confidence or just perfect your technique. So what are you waiting for? Dive in!
Swim course length: 100m
Requirements: Bright coloured swim cap, tow float/bag (after sunset and in water under 15 degrees), & light (after sunset)
At Andark Lake, you can experience a unique swimming opportunity - swim a distance of your own choice. With its Olympic-sized pool and 100m loop circuit, this venue is perfect for personalizing your swim time. The beach slopes gently for easy entry and exit from the lake, and there's no need to worry about getting cold afterwards! The on-site facilities cater to all swimmers, including plenty of changing rooms, lockers, toilets, showers and a cafe. All this makes Andark Lake a great spot for relaxing after doing your own lap count.