A review of the The Outdoor Swimming Guide. Over 400 of the best lidos, wild swimming and open air swimming spots in England, Scotland & Wales
This is a glorious book. Even the cover made me want to dive right in! The guide provides a comprehensive overview of more than 400 swimming sites in England and Wales, with a nice mix of urban lidos, wild swimming and open air spots.
As soon as I got it, I started flicking through the pages, admiring the gorgeous and inviting photos and picking out the swims I’d love to do (and gratifyingly ticking off the ones I’ve already done).
I live close to Hathersage Lido in the Peak District, which regularly features in ‘top ten’ lists of the UK’s best lidos, and where magical musical swim evenings are offered with live music played in the pool’s bandstand. So my bar was high on what might constitute a great lido swim. But the variety of options in the book highlighting interesting local features – 24 hour swims at Chudleigh in Devon; sea pool swimming at Bude or weekly midnight swims at Stonehaven in Scotland – did not disappoint.
Equally, the diversity and range of swimming options at more remote locations are exciting. From slate quarry swimming on tiny, car free Easdale Island; the stunning wilds of Loch Beinn A’ Mheadhoin in Glen Affric; Llyn Y Fan Fach in the Brecon Beacons National Park – the legendary home to a nymph known as the Lady of the Lake – to the peaceful Burnmoor Tarn in the Lake District, there are many possibilities to whet your swimming appetites.
The book divides outdoor swimming spots into three different types, using colour coding for each: lidos or outdoor pools (blue); wild swim spots (green) and open water swims (purple), with a map listing the swims in each area. The book doesn’t have an index, which I found a bit frustrating, but it does have a ‘swims at a glance’ list. And as a Scotswoman, it jarred a bit to read Loch Morlich described as a “large lake” – the only ‘lake’ in Scotland is the Lake of Monteith, everything else is a loch! But those minor irritations aside, this is a stunning guide to wonderful swimming options across the country. The authors invite you not to take care of the book, instead readers should “cram it in your backpack … circle your favourite spots and pore over it in the pub”. Their intention is that the book will inspire adventures and help you identify a few secret swim spots of your own – I can’t wait.
Buy The Outdoor Swimming Guide at a discounted price here – The Outdoor Swimming Guide