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Top 10 places to Wild Swim 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 periods of global change.


Scotland has so many fantastic places to paddle with the kids or go for a swim with friends. There is no trespassing law in Scotland so you can theoretically wild swim or paddle in any loch, river or sea. However do think about your safety and the safety of others when planning where to visit.


Some of these locations would be great for families, others should only be undertaken by strong swimmers. Please use your knowledge and experience when making a decision of where to swim. If you'd prefer, you may like to use a wetsuit.


Read on for the best places for paddling and wild swimming Scotland.


Wild swimming can be dangerous, so please take proper precautions when attempting a wild swim. As a minimum you should:

  • Wear a lifejacket if you are a weak or new swimmer

  • Wear a wetsuit if you are not used to swimming in cold water or are effected by the cold

  • Wear a bright swimming cap and use a trailing float to make you more visible

  • Be aware of any potentially dangerous wildlife that could harm you

  • Ensure the water is clean and safe to swim in

  • Have a spotter and let others know your plans



 


#1 Faerie Pools, Skye

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The Faerie pools are a well known location for wild swimming on the Isle of Skye. They do require a little bit of walking / riding to get to, around a 40 minute walk from the car park located in Glen Brittle. It’s a beautiful walk below the majestic Cuillins and the walk is certainly worth it when you get to the stunning blue pools. Be aware that the pools will be very cold throughout the year, so a wetsuit can be a good idea.


The first pools you arrive at are the deepest with a waterfall too. You can work your way up the river visiting different pools along the way, with a great underwater arch for the brave adventurers to swim through!




#2 Cambus o'May, River Dee

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This stretch of the River Dee is an ideal spot for wild swimming. If you are visiting Royal Deeside – maybe touring the many local castles – a visit here is well worth it. There is an attractive Victorian suspension bridge, painted white, that makes a good reference point for your swim. It’s 4m (13ft) at the deepest point, unless there has been heavy rain or melting snow, and there are flat rocks along the edge that warm up in the sun. This is a popular location with the locals.




#3 Rob Roy's Bathtub, Crainlarich

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Rob Roy’s bathtub is a deep pool below the Falls of Falloch and relatively popular area for wild swimming near Crianlarich. It’s right beside the A82 so in the summer holidays and on sunny days it can get very busy very quickly! I would recommend arriving early if you are visiting in the holidays or a sunny day.




#4 Arisaig, Lochaber

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You can travel to this spot on the west coast of Scotland either along the famous Road to the Isles or by taking the train which winds among rugged hills, lochs and coastline. The coastline immediately around Arisaig and stretching to the north is full of shallow bays, silver sands and crystal-clear waters. In summer, the sea can get surprisingly warm, with the heat of the sun adding to the warmth of the Gulf Stream that heads across the Atlantic.




#5 Loch Morlich, Aviemore

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There might not be a Nessy here, but this loch in the heart of the Cairngorms mountains offers a fantastic wild swim. Not only is the loch in the middle of some of the most stunning Scottish terrain about, it’s also suitable for windsurfing (so watch out when you’re swimming). There’s even a cafe on the shore to warm up in, should the water be slightly on the chilly side.




#6 Waulkmill Bay, Orkney

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Orkney is a veritable sweet shop for swimmers. The archipelago is pretty flat, so you can see water for miles when travelling around. The water is clear and turquoise in many spots, and the coastline offers special coves and caves to explore. Waulkmill Bay is one of the more sheltered areas that offer a sandy bottom and stunning swim spot.




#7 Dores Beach, Loch Ness

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Britain’s longest lake and home to the Loch Ness Monster. There are plenty of entry and exit points around the Loch. Dores Beach is a good spot and local swimmers meet here regularly for swimming. I swam from Urquhart Castle, just outside the grounds. It was a bit of a scramble to the shoreline, but a much more secluded experience.




#8 Glen Rosa, Isle of Arran

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Glen Rosa is a bit of a sun trap and is angled in such a way that it is usually sheltered from the prevailing south westerly winds. There are several good plunge pools along the River Rosa so you can usually find your own secluded wild “Jacuzzi”, but the pool that you really want to get to is the “Blue Pool”. It’s easy to identify as it has a distinctive large boulder sat next to it and the waters do have a very inviting bluish / green tint. The pool is deep enough that you can bomb into it and this is usually the best way to enter the water as it gets the shock over fast.




#9 Feshiebridge, Kincraig

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The A9 is a road that we’re not big fans of. For sure, it is the quickest way to get from Edinburgh to Inverness, but it is a road that bypasses lots of great little places. As a result, the majority of tourists blast through a part of Scotland that has some hidden gems. So next time you’re stuck on the boring A9 approaching Kingussie, you might want to consider a small detour to Feshiebridge. Exit the A9 at Kingussie and then follow the B970 past Ruthven Barracks. After approximately 9 miles on the B970, the road dips down to cross a sturdy 18th century stone arched bridge that crosses the River Feshie.


On the south side of the bridge, you will find a wooden gate that leads through to a picnic spot above a large pool that is great for a swim. If you are lucky, and we have been on 2 occasions, you might even catch a glimpse of salmon resting in the rock pool before starting their epic journey upstream through the cascades to their spawning grounds.




#10 Allt Mor, Kinloch Rannoch

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The village of Kinloch Rannoch is a place that doesn’t see a lot of tourists passing through, but that’s not because it isn’t a pretty place. The scenery around this village is stunning and if you climb the hill behind the village you can look west across the open expanse of Rannoch Moor towards the peaks of the mountains that form the eastern entrance to Glen Coe. The reason why Kinloch Rannoch isn’t on many tourists’ “to do” lists is the fact that it is on a road to pretty much nowhere, unless you fancy coffee and cake at the Rannoch Rail Station Tearoom, which is actually a good enough reason to merit the detour.


From the centre of the village, where there is the very nice Dunalastair Hotel, you walk towards the village garage / petrol station and then take 1st left to walk up a gravel track which soon brings you to a large pool behind which is a large rocky outcrop that the Allt Mor river flows over in a series of rivulets. It would be an almost perfect setting for a skinny dip if it wasn’t also such a good location for midges too.

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