The Best Wild Swimming Locations in Cornwall

The Best Wild Swimming Locations in Cornwall

The southernmost county of the UK is well-known for being full of stunning countryside, tropical sandy beaches, and charming seaside villages. This makes Cornwall one of the best places in the country for wild swimming. From hilltop pools to hidden coves, the waters in and around Cornwall are not to be missed. But with so many beautiful spots, it’s hard to know which ones to try out first. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our list of the best Cornwall wild swimming spots for you to explore this summer.

Swimming Safety

Open water can be unpredictable and dangerous so precautions must always be taken when you go out for your swim. Before entering the water, make sure you’re aware of the risks and how to be safe. For example, knowing how to escape rip currents is important when sea swimming. 

It’s also important to bring the right equipment into the water with you. The main aim of wild swimming equipment like tow floatsdry bags, and swim caps is to make you more visible in the water. Not only could this reduce your risk of injury, it’d also help rescue teams find you quicker in an emergency. 

Holywell Bay

  • Location: Holywell
  • Summer lifeguards?: Yes

Our first recommended wild swimming spot is the National Trust owned Holywell Bay. Made up of a 1 mile sandy beach backing onto 60ft of dunes, this is the ideal place for a sea swim while being protected from the wind and rougher seas. At low tide, the magic of the bay starts to show its face with the appearance of Holywell cave. As the tide goes out, the shipwreck of an Argentinean cargo ship carrying coal from 1917 will also start to appear out of the sea and beach.

Carn Marth

  • Location: Redruth
  • Summer lifeguards?: No

If you’re looking for a wild swim location further inland, Carn Marth might be for you. Located on a gorse and wildflower covered hilltop with beautiful views reaching wide across the local area. This old granite quarry tends to have warmer waters in the summer offering a pleasant outdoor swim, especially when the sea swimming spots aren’t safe during rougher seas. There’s also an island in the middle of the quarry which can be used as a rest spot during your swim. 

Portreath Beach

  • Location: Portreath
  • Summer lifeguards?: Yes

Portreath Beach offers a range of options for your open water swim. When the waters are calm, you can wade in for a sea swim along the gentle sandy slope into the water, ideal for outdoor swimmers and paddling children. On the right-hand side of the beach near the harbour wall, you’ll find a tidal pool which offers a more protected option for a wild swim while still being able to enjoy the fresh sea air. You could also go exploring to find the 6 smaller tidal pools on the left-hand side of the beach. These small pools were carved into the rocks in the 19th Century to provide bathing areas on the beach for Lady Frances Bassett. 

Bossiney Cove

  • Location: Bossiney
  • Summer lifeguards?: No

On the northern coast of Cornwall, near the historic village of Tintagel, is Bossiney Cove (also known as Bossiney Haven). This cove has a beautiful sandy beach to explore on foot during low tide but if you’re wanting to venture out for a wild swim, you’re best to time your swim with high tide. When the sea is calm and the tide is high, you can swim through the rock arch on the left-hand side of the beach, called Elephant Rock. To get to this beach there is a steep half-mile walk from the car park and toilets making it not suitable for families with pushchairs.

River Fowey

  • Location: Bodmin
  • Summer lifeguards?: No

Near Bodmin in the middle of Cornwall is the National Trust owned Lanhydrock Estate. The River Fowey flows through the estate grounds with riverside walks, charming bridges, and a range of magical outdoor swimming pools. The clear river water can run slightly stronger here and is 2m deep in places, making it ideal for those with wild swimming experience wanting more of a challenge. The benefit of this swimming location is that you have access to toilets and a cafe to help you warm up after your swim with a warming drink and a snack.

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