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Safest places for wild swimming in the UK: Study puts Northumberland at top of the list

A leading holiday booking site has revealed the safest places in the UK for wild swimming, with Northumberland topping the list, closely followed by Cornwall and Devon. With the Environment Agency reporting that raw sewage had been pumped into open rivers almost 400,000 times last year, and the fact that RNLI saved the most lives in watersport incidents in 2021 since 2002*, the site wanted to reveal the safest locations for people to swim wild. Various factors were analysed to create the list, including water quality, the number of lifeguarded beaches, wild swimming venues and open water events. Following the findings, the platform has partnered with wild swimming experts to share tips for open water activities and how to stay safe. 

A leading holiday booking site has revealed the safest places in the UK for wild swimming, with Northumberland topping the list, followed by Cornwall and Devon.

Snaptrip.com’s study comes after a growing interest in wild swimming, with Google Trends data showing a 450% increase in people searching for ‘wild swimming’ in the past year.

Along with the sport’s popularity, safety concerns about wild swimming are high on the agenda. The Environment Agency reported water companies pumping raw sewage into rivers almost 400,000 times last year and the RNLI saved a record amount of lives in watersport-related incidents in summer 2021, since 2002.*

The holiday booking site analysed a range of different factors such as water quality, the number of lifeguarded beaches, wild swimming venues and open water events, to reveal the safest places in the UK for wild swimming.

The top five safest places in the UK for wild swimming are:

  1. Northumberland
  2. Cornwall (Inc. Isle of Scilly)
  3. Devon
  4. Dorset
  5. Somerset

The full list of the safest counties to visit for an open water swimming adventure, as well as tips and tricks on how to get started and stay safe, can be found here: https://www.snaptrip.com/wild-swimming-uk

Despite having no open water swimming events throughout the year, Northumberland tops the list with over 200 lifeguarded beaches and high ratings for its water quality. The northern county is followed closely by Cornwall and Devon; while Devon holds more lifeguarded beaches (126 in Devon vs. 101 in Cornwall), Cornwall beats its southern counterpart with an impressive water quality rating – the highest out of every county on the list.

Although in fourth place, Dorset performed well across all four factors with the highest number of open water swimming events for people interested in taking the hobby more seriously.

Following the research, SnapTrip.com partnered with a number of wild swimmers across the UK to unveil some valuable insider knowledge and tips. Experts noted that those looking to start wild swimming should do so in the summer, before working their way up to swimming in the colder months. Additionally, investing in the right kit is a must, with many experts stating that things like dry robes, wetsuit boots and tow-floats are a necessity to stay safe and comfortable.

Snaptrip.com, part of the Snaptrip Group, is a trusted marketplace for travellers to discover the best last-minute cottage, apartment and lodge holiday deals in the UK, Ireland and other European destinations. With more than 60,000 properties available on-site, Snaptrip.com helps people find and book last-minute accommodation with discounts of up to 60%.

Matt Fox, CEO and co-founder of the Snaptrip Group, said,

“Wild swimming is a pastime that has become very popular over the past few years, but with risks such as poor water quality and swimming incidents making the headlines, we wanted to find out where people can go to try out the sport safely. As a travel company we want to encourage people to go on an adventure but make sure they stay safe at the same time.

“After speaking to the experts as part of this study, there are clearly many benefits to wild swimming, such as improved mental health, better circulation and being part of a social community. We hope that our data and tips from the experts will not only further aid those who have already taken the plunge but also help beginners try wild swimming safely, comfortably and in the best locations possible!”