Where the wild ones go! (wild swimming in Devon)

Published: Thursday 25th Jul 2013

Bathed in the radiant magic of morning sun or in the heavy humid haze of a summer’s afternoon, nothing quite beats a serene swim to refresh and revive the senses.

With this timeless desire still set within us, why settle for a dip in stark chlorine when you can plunge into the fresh watery depths of Dartmoor?

From an historic river fed swimming pool to picturesque rivers and tranquil lakes, Dartmoor National Park boasts some truly unique natural gems.

So splash ahead with these top Swim spots!

1) Chagford Lido

Offering the perfect setting for safe water fun, the river fed Lido at Chagford is a must for families. Chagford Swimming Pool was opened in 1934 and is the largest open-air, fresh-water swimming pool in the south west. The water temperature is enhanced with the help of solar pool covers, raising the water temperature from 16°C of the river to 25°C if the weather is favourable.

A toddler pool accompanied with water toys enables little tots to enjoy the natural water whilst older siblings enjoy the main pool. With refreshments on hand to the ‘Tea shed’ and a grassy spot perfect for picnics and sunbathing, enjoy a refreshing family splash at Chagford!

Open to all: Tuesday-Friday 2-6pm (25th May through to early September).Early ‘Dawn dipper’ swims take place each Monday 8-9am.Lane swimmers can have the run of the pool from 6-7pm, Tuesday to Friday. Tel: 01647 432929

2) West Dart Swincombe Pool

Nestled in the heart of Dartmoor and fed by the River Swincombe as it flows into the West Dart, this pretty pool is a skinny dippers paradise!

Splashing around and a shallow swim is what it’s all about here. The beauty spot charm also makes it ideal for picnics. A series of deeper and small pools can be found further upstream.

Swincombe Pool is located just past the cattle gird at Dunnabridge Farm, and is reached by taking the boggy footpath upstream past the stepping stones.

3) Cowsic Waterfall Pools

Ideal for adults and older children, these series of plunge pools are framed by wild waterfalls and offer a secluded idyll within the serenity of a wooded valley. The pools can be accessed by walking back over the West Dart River Bridge from the Quarry car park, and then by taking the woodland footpath to the right of the bridge upstream, along the Cowsic River.

4) Horseshoe Falls

Relax in the luxurious bubbles of a natural Jacuzzi! Located in the Double Dart and instantly recognizable thanks to its unique Horseshoe shape, water lovers can easily unwind here or enjoy a splash in the pools and a downstream swim from the falls.

The falls are reached by walking upstream from the New Bridge. Skinny dippers can also enjoy the natural sandy beach at Wellsfoot Island, just 20 minutes on from Horseshoe Falls.

5) Peter Tavy Coombe

These former Mill Ponds have been adopted by the locals as a local swimming spot and are surrounded by lovely lush grass perfect for picnic feasts and family relaxation. Great for a lap or a cool down, the pools offer a tranquil setting in the summertime sun. Although often silted up, the pools are cleaned from time to time. So go on and take the plunge!

Swim safe!

  • Remember that Dartmoor Rivers are known to rise rapidly in the rain.
  • Lifeguards do not patrol natural lakes and rivers, so caution must be made.
  • If you or any of your group are not strong swimmers than enjoy a shallow skinny dip instead!
  • Reservoirs are typically unadvisable due to strong currents, underwater obstructions and the rare but tragic body shock affects which can arise from freezing water temperatures.
  • With these safety tips in mind, get out and enjoy the magical feel of a natural splash around today!


Book your perfect holiday property in Devon