Best Wild Swimming Spots in Oxfordshire

Best Wild Swimming Spots in Oxfordshire

With an increase in the popularity of open water swimming since the Covid-19 lockdowns, many people are now searching for new wild swimming locations near to where they live. For people living in or around Oxfordshire, there are lots of open water swimming options to enjoy. From outdoor swimming lakes to swimming in the clean and fresh River Thames (before it meanders through the capital), you’re bound to find your next favourite swimming spot on this list.

Before swimming in open water, it’s important to be aware of the dangers and know how to stay safe on your swim.


Queenford Lakes

  • Location: Dorchester-on-Thames
  • Price: £6.75-8
  • Swim course length: 400m, 750m, & 1km
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Bright coloured swim hat & tow float/bag

Queenford Lakes is run by Oxford Wakeboard & Ski Club, offering a range of water activities including open water swimming. With a 2.2km running track around the lake, this is a great venue to train for your next triathlon event. However, if you just fancy a leisurely swim, there are 3 circuit lengths you can choose from - 400m, 750m, and 1km.

The lake is supervised by a safety team and there are facilities like showers and toilets onsite. You must pre-book to swim here. If you have NOWCA membership (which is recommended), your swim will cost £6.75. However, if you’d rather swim as a guest without membership, a swim will cost you £8.

Bicester Outdoor Performance Lake

  • Location: Bicester
  • Price: £7
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Bright coloured swim hat & tow float/bag

South-west of Bicester, on the grounds of Bicester Hotel, is Bicester Outdoor Performance Lake. This is a 200m long stretch of water with an average depth of 2m, ideal for wild swimmers of all skill levels. With an RLSS lifeguard watching over the lake, you can be confident that if you get into trouble in the water, someone is there to help you. If you’re not confident in open water or you’re new to swimming outdoors, this venue offers lessons to help you develop your wild swimming technique, regardless of what level of swimming experience you have.

River Thames


Looking for somewhere in the River Thames where you can swim for miles? Around Shillingford, the river is relatively slow running, making it ideal for a leisurely swim. We recommend entering the river at the picnic spot north of the Shillingford Hotel. To get there, simply park at Shillingford Hotel (you’ll need cash) and walk along the western bank for 15 minutes.

Port Meadow

The River Thames runs along Port Meadow Country Park in Oxford from Wolvercote to Jericho, creating a beautiful spot to enjoy an open water swim. With shallower water around Godstow car park and deeper water further down the western bank, whether you want a quick dip or to be able to do a longer swim, Port Meadow is the place for you. 

Buscot Weir

The furthest upstream swim location in the River Thames on this list is Buscot Weir. The weir creates a pool within the river, ideal for outdoor swimming. With very little current, shallow edges for entry, a deep centre for swimming, and surrounded by nature, this part of the River Thames is idyllic for a peaceful swim. As Buscot Weir is on land managed by the National Trust, there is a useful car park and toilets, as well as a nearby tearoom.

Clifton Hampden

Take a stroll through the beautiful little village of Clifton Hampden and you’ll come across the River Thames. Whether you decide to swim upstream under Clifton Hampden bridge to the lock, or whether you swim downstream past the trees and fields, there are multiple gravel entry areas along both sides of the river for easy access to start your swim.

Minister Lovell

We’ve added this location as a bonus wild swimming spot as it’s actually in the River Windrush rather than the River Thames (however it does eventually flow into the River Thames). Located in the pretty village of Minster Lovell, swimming here will take you meandering past lines of trees and the 15th century ruined manor house which lies right next to the river. Walk 5 minutes from Minster Lovell church and you’ll find a shallower area of the river, ideal for entering and exiting the water. 

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