Harbour Holidays

Best Places for Wild Swimming in North Cornwall

Wild swimming in Cornwall

Whether you are a seasoned cold-water swimmer or you are taking your first tentative plunge, wild swimming in North Cornwall is nothing short of magical. Home to a huge number of amazing wild swimming spots, you can easily surround yourself with nature and expose yourself to the elements, reaping the many benefits for mind, body and soul.

With both psychological and physical benefits, wild swimming boosts your health, increases your metabolism, improves your circulation and, of course, makes you feel incredible. So where can you go if you want to make the most of this free, year-round activity?

Taking shape in the form of glistening tidal pools, sheltered bays and tree-shrouded rivers, North Cornwall’s plethora of outdoor swimming spots are as diverse as they are beautiful. For the best wild swimming experiences, we’ve picked out our favourites so you can enjoy rejuvenating dip after rejuvenating dip. Dreamy.

Trevone Tidal Pool, Trevone

Trevone sea pool

Photo by Elliot Walker

One of the most beautiful beaches in North Cornwall, Trevone Bay beckons with powder fine sands and turquoise waters. Too much to resist for even the most dedicated land-lubbers, the beach’s crystal waters are a real tonic. That said, if it’s a sea pool you’re after for your wild swim, you can head around the corner to Newtrain Bay where a superb tidal pool hides within the rocks. A coveted secret, this hidden gem has got to be one of the best pools in the county, ideal for cathartic swims in the open air.

Chapel Rock Tidal Pool, Perranporth

A wonderful spot for wild swimming in North Cornwall is Chapel Rock tidal pool in Perranporth. A rocky bowl filled with crystalline seawater, this stunning sea pool is refreshed twice a day by the comings and goings of the tide. Warmed by the heat of the sun during the day, it offers idyllic conditions for an invigorating splash and is particularly popular amongst families with younger children learning the strokes.

Daymer Bay, nr Padstow

Daymer Bay in Cornwall

Photo by Nilfanion via Wikimedia Commons

Not far from our cottages in Padstow, the golden sprawl of Daymer Bay is a real magnet for wild swimmers. A sheltered bay protected by cliffs and backed by dunes, it is rare to see waves at this heavenly beach and as such the opportunities for tranquil swims are plentiful – especially in summer. Only a short walk from a car park and with beautiful views of the estuary and sea beyond, this is sure to be a spot you’ll want to come back to year after year.

Golitha Falls, nr Liskeard

The Golitha Falls National Nature Reserve is home to a series of spectacular cascades and waterfalls coursing along the River Fowey. Descending 200 meters into a plunge pool shrouded by ancient woodland, the river’s natural basin invites those willing to brave the chilly temperatures to strip off the layers and immerse themselves in this unique setting. As the currents can pick up during certain times of the year, it’s best to enjoy this pool in summer when the waters are usually at their calmest.

Port Quin, nr Port Isaac

Just a few miles along the coast from Port Gaverne is the historic natural harbour of Port Quin. Set within a peaceful, sheltered inlet shouldered by high cliffs, this picturesque hamlet often rewards wild swimmers with excellent swimming conditions at high tide, when the gentle lap of the water invites you to boost those feel-good hormones. As you swim, enjoy the beautiful scenery around you and keep an eye out for Doyden Castle atop the cliffs.

Porthtowan Tidal Pool, Porthtowan

Porthtowan Tidal Pool

Photo by Jomega at Flickr

A secret pool only frequented by those in the know, Porthtowan’s tidal pool is easily overlooked. Tucked away in a rocky gully at the north of the beach, it’s only accessible at low tide but well worth the wait when the tide is on the turn. Protected by cliffs and large enough to swim about, it’s a great option for those building their confidence with cold water swimming. Even better, once you’ve dried off, you can make use of the many cafés in walking distance offering hot food and sea views.

St Nectan’s Kieve, Tintagel

Heading back into Cornwall’s leafy underbelly, a swim at St Nectan’s Kieve near Tintagel will allow you to reconnect with your wild roots. Surrounded by fairy tale-esque woodland, the river here flows along its sinewy path before tumbling through a window in the rock and thundering into a pool below. Falling 60 feet, this stunning waterfall certainly makes for a magical backdrop, leaving swimmers starry-eyed and glowing.

Summerleaze Sea Pool, Bude

Bude Sea Pool

Photo by John Fielding at Flickr

At the foot of Summerleaze beach cliffs, Bude’s sea pool has long been a firm favourite of both locals and visitors alike. A semi-natural pool created in the 1930s by Captain Henry Round (an English engineer and close colleague of the famous Guglielmo Marconi), it is a real haven for swims on the salt-kissed coast, safe from the pounding surf. Measuring nearly 100 meters in length and nearly 50 meters wide, it’s also Cornwall’s largest sea pool – making it even more appealing for swims throughout the summer.

The Tidal Baths, Portreath

Believed to have been made by a band of industrious locals who used dynamite to blow a sizeable hole in a rocky outlet, Portreath’s tidal baths are another favourite for open-air swims year-round. Sat at the base of the town’s harbour wall, the main pool is encircled by six smaller bath-like pools that provide hours of entertainment for bathers of all ages. With your pick of pools to choose from (not to mention the sea on calm days too), you’ll quickly fall for Portreath and its unmissable swimming opportunities.

Treyarnon Bay Rock Pool

Just a few miles from Padstow, Treyarnon Bay is a sweeping sandy beach that draws wild swimmers throughout the year. Making it particularly attractive to water-lovers, it boasts a 12-meter-long rock pool, spoiling bathers with the choice of both an exhilarating open-water dip and a tranquil pool soak. With easy access from the car park and lifeguarded in summer, it’s little wonder why this beach has become the favourite of so many.

Safety Tips for Wild Swimming

If you are looking forward to a wild swim in North Cornwall this year, make sure you read up on both the benefits and the risks before you go. To make sure you keep safe, here are some of our top tips for wild swimming wherever you are:

  • Swim with a buddy; there is safety in numbers, and it is fun to share the experience too.
  • Always enter the water slowly so that you can check for depth, hidden obstructions and so that you can give your heart and body a chance to acclimatise.
  • Know your exit points and make sure you understand the area’s rips and currents before swimming.
  • Focus on your breathing, swim slowly and don’t swim out too far.
  • If you are trying winter swimming for the first time, consider investing in a wetsuit to gradually get used to the colder temperatures.
  • Never swim in a storm.
  • Warm up afterwards with thick layers, a hot drink, a hot water bottle and something tasty to eat!
Main photo by Dallas Morgan on Unsplash

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