Wild swimming guide Gloucestershire

The glorious county of Gloucestershire is a long way from the coast, but that doesn’t mean it is short on spots for making a splash. Whether you’re planning on a paddle or a full on plunge, you are spoilt for choice with all sorts of places to get wet and go wild in Gloucestershire.

Perhaps you fancy the sandy shore at the Cotswold Country Park & Beach at South Cerney, or how about a dip in the Thames? For a more natural experience you could opt for a river swim in the Forest of Dean.

So pack up a picnic, grab your swimming gear and head out. We’ve put together a list of likely places where you can immerse yourself. Don’t forget to check the depth and be alert for hazards before you enter unchartered waters.

Cotswold Country Park & Beach

Shorncote, Cirencester. GL7 6DF

Billed as the UK’s largest inland beach, the swimming lagoon at Cotswold Country Park and Beach laps a shore covered with golden sand. Apart from swimming you can enjoy facilities like pedalo boats, mini-golf, kayaking, the Beach Shack café and the thrilling Aquaventure inflatable water park. It makes for a great day out for a family. Advance booking online is essential.

Lechlade Riverside Park

Lechlade, GL7 3AL

If you fancy a swim in the Thames, the place to go is just upstream of the town of Lechlade in the Cotswolds (on the A417). Here you’ll find old Father Thames flowing deep and wide through lush, green countryside in the Lechlade Riverside Park. There’s good access to the river, with silty shallows graduating to a depth of a little over two metres. Children enjoy jumping in from the 18th century Ha’penny Bridge. The water quality is good. There’s car parking at Swindon Road just downstream of the park.

Lower Lydbrook

Forest of Dean, GL17 9SA

The village of Lower Lydbrook is the starting point for the 7 km long Wild Wye Swim held each year in September. It’s a great place for wild swimmers who want to test their endurance for a long swim. You can pick your distance – swim to Symonds Yat or Kerne Bridge and beyond. Wearing swim shoes is recommended because there are some shallow rapids on the route to traverse on foot. There is a small car park with access to the river.

Bowbridge Lock, River Frome

Stroud, GL5 2JY

A stretch of the Frome river behind the Bowbridge Lock on the outskirts of Stroud is a popular spot for daring dippers, even in the winter months. Head to the right of the canal bridge


New Road, Blakeney, GL15 4DQ

You’ll find some fine fun in the forest for the kids at the Wenchford picnic site in the Forest of Dean, Blakeney. Run by the Forestry Commission this lovely place in the heart of the forest lies alongside Blackpool Brook, shaded by oak trees. The brook is wide and shallow, offering perfect paddling and water play opportunities in clean, cold water. There’s a car park on site.

This list of wild swimming spots in Gloucestershire is by no means complete! If you would like to share details of your favourite open water swimming venues in Gloucestershire we’d love to hear from you, and we’ll add them to this guide. Email lp@dentons.net.