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19th July 2016 | Regional News

Cornwall’s Best Wild Swimming Spots


Wild swimming was once a popular activity in Cornwall but the rise of indoor pools slowly moved people inside. Recently however, diving into chlorine-free waters has seen a resurgence and wild swimming in Cornwall is thriving once again.

With so many picturesque lakes, long windy estuaries and miles of crystal clear ocean to swim in, Cornwall is the perfect destination for outdoor swimming.

To unearth the best outdoor swimming spots in Cornwall we’ve teamed up with Daniel Start, author of Wild Swimming and Hidden Beaches. Daniel has spent the last 10 years travelling thousands of miles on foot, by bike, kayak and camper van, exploring the best freshwater swimming spots in the UK. Today, Daniel shares with us his favourite wild swimming spots in Cornwall.

Goldiggins Quarry and The Pony Pool, Minions, Bodmin Moor

goldiggins quarry

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Goldiggins Quarry is a secret, spring-fed quarry lake, out on the open moors but hidden in a small grassy amphitheatre. The lake has numerous flat rock ledges, which are perfect if you’re wanting to jump into the refreshing water below.

If you’re interested in visiting Goldiggins Quarry, head to Hurlers car park. From the car park, you will need to follow the vehicle track which heads north onto the Bodmin Moor, past the stone circle. After 15 minutes bear left at the junction and continue for another half a mile to find the quarry (25 mins, 50.5248, -4.4711). The Pony Pool has beachy areas and is relatively shallow, making this small, sheltered lake perfect for kids.

Around Porthcurno, Penwith

around porthcurno

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If you’re looking for the perfect spot to swim in the sea, then seek out the Atoll-Island sandbars at Pedn Vounder, just east of Porthcurno, a spectacular Bay with shallow lagoons. It’s a remote and wonderful place for swimming, thanks to its stunning turquoise waters (50.0440, -5.6423).


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Just a mile away from Porthcurno Bay, you’ll find several more beautiful beaches. Porth Chapel Beach has fun ledges to jump off and Porthgwarra Beach has a secret tunnel for you to explore. If you head to Land’s End, at Nanjizal Bay (50.0536, -5.6926) at low tide, you can swim through the “song of the sea” rock arch, wallow in jade-green plunge pools and snorkel into sea caves that are gleaming with coralline algae. There’s also a rope that allows you to descend into giant caverns as well as a secret beach on the far side of the Bay.

Baker’s Pit, Nancledra

bakers pit

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At Baker’s Pit, there is an open moorland spring-fed lake (once a china clay pit) with ruins of old mining works. If you walk up and over the Moor you will reach the ancient village of Chysauster.

To get to Baker’s Pit, you will need to turn left off the B3311 from Penzance at Nancledra. After 1 mile, turn left again to Georgia, where you can park at the road end. From here, walk south west on the nature reserve track (50.1667, -5.5295) until you reach Baker’s Pit.

St Nectan’s Kieve, Tintagel

st nectans kieve

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At the head of a wild glen, a tall slender waterfall plunges into a high basin, which then flows through a circular hole and drops into a plunge pool (the kieve). This is a holy place with prayer flags, a shrine room above and lots of steps. There’s also a small tea room in Hermitage, if you fancy a sit down and some refreshments.

To get to the shrine entrance, you will need to start at the post box opposite the telephone box in Trethevey (B3263), 2 miles east of Tintagel. From here, bear right and walk for 1 mile past St Piran’s Well, down into the woods, and up along the pretty stream, before climbing the steps up to the shrine entrance (50.6644, -4.7168).

How to be safe whilst wild swimming

Without doubt wild swimming is an amazing pass time for people of all ages, however, it can be dangerous. To help you stay safe whilst swimming outdoors, read Daniel’s 10 tips below.

1) Never swim alone, and do keep a constant watch on weak swimmers.
2) Know your limits and stay close to the shoreline. Cold water will decrease your swimming range and can lead to cold cramps. People with a heart condition should avoid rapid entry into cold water.
3) Never jump into water you have not thoroughly checked for depth and obstructions.
4) Avoid strong currents, such as those found under large waterfalls, rapids or weirs: they can drag you under.
5) Always make sure you know how you will get out before you get in.
6) Wear footwear if you can.
7) Watch out for boats on any navigable river. Wear a coloured swim hat so you can be seen.
8) Avoid direct contact with blue-green algae and be wary of water quality in lowland areas during droughts and heavy rain. Cover cuts with plasters if you’re worried, and if you develop flu-like symptoms tell your doctor you have been wild swimming.
9) In surf and swell avoid swimming where rip currents can form: along the edge of coves, on wide beaches and at river mouths.
10) If caught in an offshore rip don’t swim against it. Swim parallel, then return to the beach on the surf. In high swell avoid steeply shelving beaches as the waves can ‘dump’ you and the undertow around your legs can be strong. Never enter sea caves or swim near rocks at high tide.

For more information:

If you would like to know more information about wild swimming in Cornwall, head over to or check out Daniel’s Wild Swimming Book, which charts Britain’s most beautiful places for swimming, walking and exploring. If you know any more amazing wild swimming places in Cornwall, then let us know via our Facebook or Twitter page.

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