18. Swim outdoors

Indoors
Outdoors
Free to do
Can do in my area
No planning needed
All year round
Great for little'uns with parents (under 6)

or refine by category!

Find a safe pool, lake or river and swim in it.

Take a
risk!
boy in wetsuit wading out into deep water

Why do it?

Wild swimming is a great way to enjoy the outdoors whilst keeping cool in the summer.

Go on an adventure to find a hidden waterfall, beach, cove or a natural plunge pool which isn't full of manmade chemicals and other people splashing around.

How to do this in Bristol

Swimming can be dangerous if you are not careful, if you aren’t experienced, or if you are swimming in a dangerous place.

Best to do this one with some supervision – never on your own or without an adult knowing. For safety tips check out the wild swimming website.

There are loads of opportunities in Bristol for people to go swimming outdoors; some are wilder than others! Use the links to find places close to you;

If wild swimming isn’t your thing you can always visit your local lido or outdoor pool – Clevedon, Portishead both have lidos, and you can swim in the sea at Clevedon and Weston-Super-Mare (all accessible via the train from Bristol for a day).

What you will need

  • Suitable footwear (old trainers, plimsolls, jelly shoes) for exploring

  • Goggles

  • A wetsuit will help you stay warmer for longer but you can just wear a normal swimming costume

  • Towels

  • A picnic rug

  • Suntan lotion

  • Plastic bags to carry your wet clothes

Taking it further

If you enjoy more serious scrambling along rivers why not join a gorge-walking or canyoning course?

Safety tips

Always check that your chosen swimming spot is safe, some rivers have very strong currents and can be very dangerous.

Always take someone with you, never ever swim alone or without supervision, and never without an adult knowing.

If in doubt or uncomfortable stick to an outdoor pool or supervised lake.

For wild swimming remember:

  1. Shallow water can suddenly turn deep with little or no warning so make sure you scout out the extent of the shallows. Remember even in shallow water a strong current can knock you off your feet.

  2. Slippery rocks can be dangerous and cause slips and falls. Never run near water, especially on rocks. If the rocks are very slippery you might find it easier barefoot or wearing rubber soled footwear (a pair of cheap plimsolls will work) for a better grip.

  3. Outdoor swimming in cold water reduces your body heat so be careful you don't get hypothermia. Test the water temperature before you swim to make sure it's not too cold, and wade in slowly in order to acclimatise your body to the cold water. If you're shivering are chattering teeth then get out of the water, into some dry clothes and warm up with exercise.

  4. Always check the depth of the water, even if you've been swimming there before - natural waterways are prone to changes.

For more safety tips about wild swimming check out the wild swimming website.

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