We are conveniently situated between the Eskdale and Duddon Valleys for access to several local wild swimming locations and some further afield. Devoke water is only a ten minute walk from Woodend and other highlights within striking distance are Ulpha Bridge, Birks Bridge, Stanly Gyll Force, Eskdale Bridge, Blea Tarn, Tongue Pot and Kail Pot. Wastwater is slightly further afield.
There’s nothing inherently dangerous about wild swimming, but cold water does reduce your swimming ability, at least until you get used to it. So stay close to the shore and increase your range slowly.
The water will be cold, so arrive hot, so hot that you can’t wait to strip off and plunge in. Plan a good hearty walk to get you there, and put on lots of warm clothes before you arrive.
Once you’re in the water it takes a few minutes before the cold feeling goes away, so persevere and you’ll feel great. In general, the more you swim in cold water the less you will feel the cold and the greater the health benefits. This called ‘cold adaptation’. Don’t stay in so long that you start to shiver, though, and definitely get out and warm up after 20 minutes.
Wetsuits can be a great help and allow you to stay immersed indefinitely. Put on warm clothes immediately after a swim and combine this with something active like walking up a hill or star jumps.
You’ll have more confidence, and be better able to explore, if you have footwear (e.g. old trainers, jelly beans etc) and goggles. Make sure you bring towels, a picnic rug, midge repellent, suntan lotion, sunhats and a plastic bag for all your wet kit. Inflatables are popular but make sure people won’t drift away on them, especially non-swimmers. A buoyancy aid is safer, and fun too.
Water quality constantly varies, reducing during droughts or after flooding. Most swims here are good or excellent quality waters, as rated by the Envionment Agency. A few, marked are average water quality and you may want to avoid swimming front crawl.
Access and the Law
You will find plenty of places where there are "No Swimming" signs and notices, yet people regular swim and always have. The signs are to limit land owners’ liability, in case someone has an accident and tries to sue.
Location of local wild swimming sites