*This wild swimming post is a partnership with adidas [AD]
Wild swimming has been a big part of my life for decades. No matter where I've travelled in the world, I'm always the first to jump in the water no matter what the temperature. But in recent years, my passion for wild swimming has grown and since basing myself back in the UK and having my camper van. I've really enjoyed getting out and discovering outdoor swimming spots wherever I go. Living in Norfolk and close to the border with Suffolk, I'm spoilt for choice with beaches, rivers and even the Broads National Park right on my doorstep. Keep reading this post to find the best wild swimming spots in Norfolk and Suffolk, plus tips for first-time outdoor swimmers, and the best swimwear and clothing for making the most of your time outdoors.
adidas have me prepped for any summer outdoor adventures from hiking and walks, to my outdoor swims which is perfect because I love to combine the two for a perfect summer day out. I'll always throw on my activewear and hiking shoes so I'm ready to explore the woods and forests, but there's nothing better than ending a walk with a swim outside. I'm obsessed with this pink adidas swimsuit for my summer wild swims, check out adidas swimsuits to find the best one for you. These hiking shoes are a great addition to my outdoor wardrobe and a much lighter alternative to my boots, they're far more suited to walks around the Norfolk and Suffolk countryside. (Shop my hiking shoes, swimsuit, top)
Best Wild Swimming Spots in Norfolk
There are a few really nice spots to access the water – a personal favourite is near The Rising Sun Pub in Coltishall. I actually stayed overnight nearby in my camper van last summer and had a wonderful time starting the day with a morning swim before cooking breakfast on the green. Officially the Broads Authority has advised not to swim in the Norfolk Broads. So if you do decide to swim in the Norfolk Broads National Park, you do so at your own risk and you must do so as safely as possible. Always watch out for boats and never jump or dive into the water. Check out this post on The 13 best Norfolk nature reserves & parks for more places to explore nearby.
Caen Meadow at Wroxham
Find the gorgeous sandy beach for a great place to take the family for a wild swim. It is on the Broads so watch out for boats. This is a popular summer spot for locals so head there early for a good spot.
Lamas at Buxton, on the River Bure
Another great spot on the Norfolk Broads, head to the River Bure in this rural location for a dip. Lamas is lovely and quiet and swimmers will enjoy the beauty of the Broads while floating past churches and gardens. Stronger swimmers can also head to Buxton Mill Pool for a dip but the tide can be strong so watch out. There are also more spots along by Coltishall.
Head to the Mill Pond by the Houghton, a National Trust spot which provides a great place for a swim. Avoid swimming if the mill is working (but this doesn't happen often at all). This 18th Century mill sits alongside Waterclose Meadows, Houghton Mill Tea Rooms and there's also riverside camping available. It's also a great spot for kayaking if you prefer to stay out of the water.
Fritton Lake, Somerleyton Estate
Fritton Lake is part of a huge 1,000 acre estate home to a the Somerleyton manor house, gardens and parkland. There's loads to do around the two mile stretch of lake which makes it very popular with swimmers and paddle-boarders, but you can also play tennis and cycle here. There are fees for swimming and accessing the site so bear that in mind when you plan a visit.
A great swimming spot for stronger swimmers, there are deep banks which make it safer for diving in – just be very careful! Grantchester Meadows is a great spot for a swim and a stroll, plus there's the Orchard Tea Rooms and several pubs where you can enjoy a roast dinner afterwards to warm up.
Milton Country Park
A former chalk pit, you can swim at Todd's Pit in the crystal clear waters which are regularly tested and considered "excellent" quality. It's a great place to test the waters for your first wild swims as the water isn't too deep and you have to book an organised session. Currently Milton Country Park open water swimming is not available due to an algae bloom, but keep checking the website for when it reopens to swimmers.
Fairhaven Water Gardens
A bit of a hidden gem, Fairhaven Water Gardens can only be accessed with a garden membership. Nature lovers will marvel at the surroundings which are home to a wealth of wildlife including rare birds and butterflies. There's 130 acres of South Walsham's inner broad to explore with beautiful gardens to explore.
Who would have thought such a great wild swimming spot could be found in the city? Norwich is home to Anderson's Meadow which is a real inner-city gem. Head to the Eagle Canoe Club for access via a ledge at the end of a gradual slipway. Expect to find acnoeists and lots of people having picnics at this popular spot which is also a favourite with cyclists who use the Marriott's Way path to access.
Shotesham Ford, River Tas
Shotesham Ford is a good place for a dip but it's hard to get a real swim in here as it is a tighter waterway. There's a deep pool in the middle but don't expect to get much of a swim in here.
Not quite as wild as the rest of the spots, but Beccles Lido is a good place for anyone who wants to swim outside but isn't quite ready for the wild of the forests and rivers. There are three outdoor pools which are heated in summer and there's opportunities for cold water swimming in winter.
Whitlingham Country Park
In the heart of Norwich, Whitlingham Country Park has its own Broad and lots of wide open, green space for bike rides, walks and outdoor fun. As well as swimming, you can hire kayaks, canoes and paddle-boards to take out on the water.
Best Beaches for Wild Swimming
Norfolk is famed for its untouched, wild beaches – I'd argue they're some of the best in the UK. If you prefer salty swims to river dips, there's lots of great beaches to head to for your wild swimming fix. I really rate Brancaster Beach, Holkham Beach, Cromer Beach, Wells and Old Hunstanton Beach for cleanliness of the beach and water. They're also really peaceful beaches with lots of space to avoid other people and to enjoy some privacy for your swims. Check out my post on Why Norfolk holidays should be on your UK bucket list for more beach recommendations.
Best Open Water Swimming Spots in Suffolk
St Helen's Picnic Spot, Thetford Forest
One of my favourite wild swimming spots in the East of England! St Helen's Picnic Spot is a favourite with locals around Thetford Forest. It's a remote little park up with beautiful river and forest trails which are popular with dog walkers. It's a great place to park up in your camper van overnight, I've stayed several times and loved it. There's shallow areas to easily access the water which makes it perfect for swims, paddle boarding and kayaking. From here you can follow the river through into Santon Downham and beyond.
Little Ouse at Santon Downham
This tiny village at the heart of Thetford Forest is just a short float down the river fromSt Helen's Picnic Spot and is accessible by car or on foot as well. Imagine floating down the river or swimming through the forest. This is a really tranquil place to escape the crowds and you can easily swim for around 6km to Brandon. The banks are full of wildlife and you may even spot kingfishers.
Outney Common on the River Waveney, Bungay
There's an idyllic two-miles loop of the Waveney River at Bungay which provides the perfect place to access the water. Why not stay at Outney Common Caravan Park to wake up and get straight on the water. It's a great place for families, kayakers, paddle-boarders and wild swimmers. You can also rent paddle boards and kayaks here so you don't even need to bring your own. This stretch has been named a favourite spot in the UK by a pioneer of wild swimming, Roger Deakin, who recorded his outdoor swimming adventures.
Gelderston Lock, River Waveney
Lonely Planet shared Gelderston Lock as one of the best wild swims in the UK, I'll let you be the judge of whether it deserves that title! It is a beautiful place and the river winds through the meadows to create a deeper swimming hole near the Gelderston Locks pub.
Little Ouse at Knettishall Heath
The Little Ouse river travels from Santon Downham all the way through to Knettishall Heath where it meanders through the meadows. The Brecks is home to a 430 acre country park where you'll find great pools for swimming and shallow sections suitable for dogs and children. A perfect place for a paddle on a summer's day.
Dedham and Flatford on the River Stour
Head to the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Beauty for an outdoor swim in a beautiful location that has inspired the works of John Constable, the landscape painter. Dip in the River Stour at Fen Bridge and take a swim past Flatford Mill. If you want to hire a boat you can do this from The Boathouse Pub, which is also a great spot for a drink after your swim.
Tips for First Time Wild Swimmers
Outdoor swimming is an amazing way to recharge and connect with nature. It can be really fulfilling and a great way to get outside and make the most of the beautiful places we have on our doorstep. But, as with anything, it is important to be safe.ake sure you are taking precautions to avoid any potential hazards. If you're thinking of getting into wild water swimming, here's some tips for first-timers and those new to outdoor swims:
- ALWAYS do your research! Read wild swimming blogs, join Facebook groups such as Wild Wanderers East England Group or Outdoor Swimming Society or Wild Swimming UK to meet other wild swimmers and get recommendations on great spots near you.
- NEVER swim alone. You never know what currents or tides you might find. It's always better to be safe.
- Remember that outdoor swimming exposes you to cold water which can be a shock for your body. Ease yourself into the water to allow your body to acclimatise.
- Always go prepared with warm clothes or a dryrobe to help you warm up afterwards.
- Check the tides and never swim if it's too strong. Keep an eye on a fixed point on land so you can tell if a current is pulling you out too far. Watch out for riptides.
- Don't jump or dive into the water – you never know what might be underneath.
- Don't swim in locks, canals or urban rivers.
- Avoid algae as it could be toxic, and can also be very slippery.
- Leave every swim spot as you found it and take any litter home with you.
This is definitely not an exhaustive list of wild swimming spots, so let me know if you know of any other good ones to add!