The Best Places to Go Wild Swimming in Yorkshire

Semerwater, in the Yorkshire Dales, offers stunning wild swimming opportunities
Semerwater, in the Yorkshire Dales, offers stunning wild swimming opportunities | © John Morrison / Alamy Stock Photo
Nicholas Grantham

What better way to experience the great outdoors than by going wild swimming? Within the wilds of Yorkshire, you can take the plunge in a freezing pool or ride down some of the readily available rapids. We recommend some of the best swimming spots that Yorkshire has to offer.

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Bolton Abbey

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark, Natural Feature

Bolton Abbey and the River Wharfe,Yorkshire Dales
© Peter Lane / Alamy Stock Photo

Next to the picturesque ruins of Bolton Abbey, the lightly running River Wharfe is a favoured spot for wild swimming. The Abbey itself dates back to the 12th century and gives bathers a stunning backdrop. The river has stepping stones running across for ease of access from each bank. Although there are no water features for climbing, you will find a deeper section of the river near the stepping stones and the abbey that’s perfect for diving.

Kisdon Force

Natural Feature

A short walk down from the village of Keld in the Yorkshire Dales, Kisdon Force is a string of beautiful waterfalls along the River Swale. Down from the falls there are two deep pools. One is 50m (164ft) wide and sun-drenched in summer where you can swim or paddle. The second favours the bold – it’s a little further down and features a huge drop into a slightly darker, more isolated pool that’s perfect for plunging.


Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark

Appletreewick, Yorkshire
© Fencewood Studio/Landscape / Alamy Stock Photo

One of the best-kept secrets for wild swimming in the Yorkshire Dales, Appletreewick (or Aptick as locals call it) is a scenic spot near the village of the same name. Great fun for families, the river features rapids a little further upstream, which create a flume ideal for tubing. A rope swing hangs off one of the banks, which the kids can have fun on. A small rocky island in the middle of the river offers a serene setting that’s perfect for picnicking.

Hell’s Cauldron

Natural Feature

For a slightly more challenging experience, the secluded pool of Hell’s Cauldron is worth visiting. It’s quite challenging to get to – you have to traverse some narrow passageways – but the pool itself is worth it. Featuring a long waterfall into a deep pool, it offers a great opportunity for diving. Named after a local witch who, it’s said, used to live in the area, the pool should only be visited during drier months, as it tends to flood after heavy rain.

Thomason Foss Waterfall

Natural Feature

Thomason Foss waterfall near Goathland in the North York Moors in North Yorkshire
© Paul Richardson / Alamy Stock Photo

Surrounded by idyllic woodland, Thomason Foss offers guests the perfect setting for a relaxing swim. Featuring a large pool, overlooked by a waterfall and with the local steam train passing nearby, you couldn’t get a more picturesque scene while swimming. Although the pool isn’t known for its temperature, the Birch Hall Inn just a short walk away, offers wild swimmers a great place to warm up afterward.

Stainforth Force

Natural Feature

Set downriver from the village of Stainforth in the Yorkshire Dales, this is a popular destination with families and local day trippers. The River Ribble runs over several waterfalls, before flowing into a deep pool at the bottom, offering swimmers a great platform for plunging or diving. The river has grassy banks, where you can set up a picnic, and there are shallows nearby for younger children to paddle in.

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