10 of the best places for wild swimming in Scotland

Wild swimming is enjoying a surge in popularity in Scotland as people seek out new experiences and the basic, invigorating joy of nature during these strange times.

Hell's Lum at Pennan, Aberdeenshire, offers swimmers a dramatic network of caves, pools and beaches.

Dipping yourself in freezing water, often in the early light of day, might sound at odds with the notion of enjoyment but the thrills of wild swimming are being widely told as people seek out secluded beaches, peaceful coves and still lochs and rivers in which to immerse themselves during lockdown.

Boosted circulation, improved immunity and weight loss are touted as physical benefits as the body works hard to deal with the cold. The emotional release and the rush of endorphins that follow offer a therapeutic experience for many – as does that raw connection with the great outdoors.

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Of course it is a case of safety first. Wild swimmers are urged not to venture out alone and to know their limits. Stay close to the shore where possible, enter gently and wear footwear and a brightly coloured swimmig cap. Look at open swimming.org for a full list of tips for keeping safe in the wild. A pile of warm clothes and a flask to hug after getting back on dry land are a must. You might even consider at wetsuit, or at least some neoprene gloves.

The little sandy beaches at Inversnaid offer the perfect launch pad for a dip in one of Scotland’s most famous bodies of water, with Milarrochy Bay on the east side also a popular site for wild swimmers.

Author Daniel Start has toured the country seeking out the best watery spots for his books Wild Swimming, Wild Beaches and Wild Scotland.

A tricky descent down the gorge gives way to a deep, still pool which is filled only by a small trickling stream. Bathers will find themselves surrounded by wood sorrel and the sound of the dawn chorus. Spectacular.
For another sensational backdrop, try a dip in Loch Ness in the shadows of Urquhart Castle, where a stretch of secluded shoreline can be accessed through fields on the road between the castle car park and Drumnadrochit.
Adventurer Daniel Start found himself amongst the “most fantastic series of river pools you can imagine” at Glen Etive with the Long Canyon, where you will find yourself surrounded by high cliffs and deep water, offering a most memorable experience.
A little sandy beach surrounded by Caledonian Pines gives way to some of the best wild swimming around. For those experienced and in a group, a 100 metre swim will take you out to one of the many islands in the loch.
A huge plunge pot under the Falls of Falloch offers a “spectacular great lido” known as Rob Roy’s Bathtub.
The sandy banks and flat rocks close to this pretty suspension bridge are popular in the summer for picnics and swimming.
Clear your head with a swim surrounded by woodland and with views to Bass Rock. How refreshing.
A tricky scramble gives way to a sea arch and lagoon with huge rock pools and giant sea caverns making for an exhilirating challenge for the more experienced.
A stunning cave and cove complex where jet-black rocks meets deep-blue water and caverns, beaches and pools converge.