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The best places for wild swimming in Cornwall

The best places for wild swimming in Cornwall

With its rugged cliffs, sparkling coast and enchanting riverside scenes, Cornwall is a wild swimmer’s dream. Whether it’s the reason for your holiday or something to add to a day trip, wild swimming is a perfect way to immerse yourself in some of the best natural beauty Cornwall has to offer.

If you’re planning to do some wild swimming in Cornwall, here are some of our picks for the best spots to check out.


But first, a little safety


One important thing to note first of all is that wild swimming in Cornwall isn’t as simple as finding a body of water and jumping in. Keeping yourself safe is always the top priority.

Before you head out to any wild swimming spot in Cornwall, be sure to check for any up to date information about depth and currents, or tide times and surf conditions if you’re swimming in the sea. The South West has one of the largest tidal ranges in the world, so access points to beaches can quickly get cut off if you’re there at the wrong time.

Also be mindful of water temperature. Cornish seas can drop as low as 7 degrees in winter, and even in the summer the water can be a lot colder than you’re expecting. Always enter steadily to avoid cold water shock, and be sure to bring thick clothes to warm up with once you’re out.

And lastly, make sure you always know your limits, whether you’re wild swimming in the ocean or in rivers. If you’re a beginner it’s best to start with lifeguarded beaches and avoid exposed coastal spots with strong currents.


Nanjizal Beach


No Cornwall holiday is complete without a trip to the beach, and if you’re planning to do some wild swimming in Cornwall then the coast is a perfect place to start.

You can find Nanjizal near Land’s End, which makes it a perfect addition to exploring the rugged western end of the country. Also called the Song of the Sea, Nanjizal beach is known for its glittering blue water and towering natural rock arch.

Park in nearby Porthgwarra and enjoy the clifftop walk to Nanjizal. Just be sure to check the tide times before you go, as the beach and the way back to the cliffs gets completely covered at high tide.


Porth Nanven


Also on the western coast, Porth Nanven Beach is another great spot to enjoy some wild swimming in Cornwall’s stunning sea.

The beach can be reached by parking in St Just, England’s most westerly town, and taking a 25 minute walk through the scenic Cot Valley. Porth Nanven is also called Dinosaur Egg Beach, because of the large smooth rocks found there.

At low tide, a crystal-clear lagoon called Mermaid Pool forms. As well as an idyllic wild swimming pool, the fish and seaweed forest makes Porth Nanven excellent for snorkelling.


Carn Marth


Wild swimming in Cornwall isn’t all about the sea. If you head inland to Redruth you can find Carn Marth, a wild swimming hotspot in an old stone quarry.

Part of the beauty of Carn Marth is that you won’t need to find the right window in the tide times to make the most of swimming there. But Carn Marth’s hilltop setting also means that when you’re done swimming you can enjoy a walk among the wildflowers with stunning views across the countryside.

You can reach Carn Marth from Redruth itself, or park close by at the Gwennap Pit amphitheatre and follow the footpath up to the pool.


Golitha Falls


If you’re looking to get immersed in nature with a wild river swim, Cornwall’s River Fowey has you covered. There are plenty of spots along its banks to choose from, but one of the best is easily the Golitha Falls National Nature Reserve.

Golitha Falls is one of the best-known beauty spots along the River Fowey, which means it can get a little busy. But it’s worth it to see the series of waterfalls and cascades running through ancient oak woodland.

What makes Golitha Falls a perfect spot for wild swimming in Cornwall is the natural plunge pool at the end of the falls. Just remember to go steady when you enter the water as the rocks underfoot can be very slippery. Golitha can also experience strong currents at certain times of the year, so check these in advance and don’t venture in if the flow is too fast.

After your wild swim, you can warm up with barbecue street food at the nearby Inkie’s Smokehouse, or while away the day exploring the gorgeous woodland surroundings. You can also find easy parking and toilets a short walk away at Draynes Bridge.

Whether you’re looking for a crystal-blue cove or a tranquil river dip, our sea-view hotel and restaurant in Penzance offers the perfect hub to rest your head and plan your wild swimming adventure.