6 places to go wild swimming in Cornwall

There is something magical and freeing about swimming outside. Your senses are heightened as you take in the surrounding natural beauty and it’s impossible not to feel a childlike joy as you gently lower – or throw – yourself into a still lake, flowing river or wild waves. 

As well as feeling good and simply making you happy, going for a dip outdoors has innumerable physical health benefits. Swimming in cold water – and let’s face it, it’s always going to be pretty bracing in Cornwall – stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for helping to repair the body. From improved sleep, better circulation and increased metabolism to a boosted immune system and glowing skin, there are myriad reasons to dive in.

Here we showcase six stunning locations in Cornwall – from tidal pools to waterfalls – that will get you racing to pack the towels and dive in.

wild-swimming-cornwall

6 of the Best Wild Swimming Spots in Cornwall

The Victorian lido: Jubilee Pool, Penzance

Jutting out from the harbour into the sea, Penzance’s Jubilee Pool is one of the oldest and largest sea water pools in the UK. Built in 1935 for George V’s silver jubilee, its fabulous art deco design transports swimmers to a different time. St Michael’s Mount serves as the striking backdrop to this picturesque pool and, while most people opt for a glorious outdoor swim, you can also enjoy stand-up paddleboarding, yoga, circuits and triathlons.

How to get there

Jubilee Pool, Battery Road, Penzance, TR18 4FF

Open every summer from the end of May to mid-September, Jubilee Pool can be found at the end of Penzance’s seafront promenade.

The spring-fed lake: Goldiggins Quarry, Bodmin Moor

Goldiggins Quarry is a secret, spring-fed quarry lake, out on the open moors but hidden in a small grassy amphitheatre. It is the perfect suntrap and a fabulous family day out, with flat ledges for jumping and grassy areas for picnics and sunbathing. The cliffs rising high around the deep jade waters are perfect for adrenaline junkies to fling themselves off, while the small and sheltered Pony Pool has beachy areas and gently sloping shallows, which are ideal for children. It’s inaccessible by car, but there is a lovely walk across the moor to reach it, taking in the Hurlers – one of the most complete remains of a stone circle in the south-west.

How to get there

Goldiggins quarry, Minions, Bodmin Moor, PL14 5LE

From the Hurlers car park in Minions, follow the track, which heads north on to the moor. Walk past the circle and after about 20 minutes bear left at the junction. 

The woodland waterfall: St Nectan’s Glen, Tintagel

Steeped in myth and legend, the waters at St Nectan’s Glen are said to hold healing powers. An area of woodland in Trethevy, near Tintagel, the glen stretches for around a mile along both banks of the Trevillet River. The river has carved its way through Late Devonian slate, creating a magnificent 60 foot waterfall that falls into a high basin, flows through a circular hole and drops into a plunge pool (the kieve). The sixth-century St Nectan is believed to have founded his hermitage above the waterfall and even today it is a sacred place, and numerous ribbons, crystals, photographs, inscriptions, prayers and other devotions now adorn the foliage and rock walls near the waterfall. This magical wild swimming spot has a deep spirituality that will delight even the most cynical who scoff at the ideas of Cornish piskies, fairies and woodland nymphs. 

How to get there

St Nectan’s Glen, Trethevy, Tintagel PL34 0BG

Drive from Tintagel to Boscastle on the coast road (B3263). Park in the free car park just off the road in Trethevy. Follow signs on foot.

The dreamy coastal lagoon: Kynance Cove, Lizard, west Cornwall

kynance-cove

Possibly one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful locations in Cornwall – or even the world – to swim at Kynance Cove is to experience a little bit of heaven. You can see why this place was popular with the Romantic poets and painters. Bask in limpid, azure waters beneath rugged wild flower-covered rock stacks before resting on the white sands. At low tide, you can walk around to the north bay opposite Asparagus Island where there are sea caves, rock pools and dare-devil jumps.

How to get there

Kynance Cove, The Lizard, near Helston, TR12 7PJ

On foot: Kynance is on the South West Coast Path, about 2.5 miles walk from Lizard Point.

By road: Take the A3083 south towards The Lizard from Helston. Keep driving until about half a mile from Lizard village. Kynance sign posted on the right-hand side (look for the brown sign).

The rambling river: Respryn Bridge, River Fowey, Bodmin

Set in semi-natural ancient woodland on the National Trust's Lanhydrock estate, the five-arched medieval bridge spans the River Fowey and is a magical place on a sunny day. Bask in the dappled sunlight that filters through the trees overhead and have fun swimming against the current in the deeper sections. There are wooden, bankside decks for fishing and a beach/shingle area by the lower footbridge, which is also good for playing Pooh Sticks.

How to get there

Respryn on the Lanhydrock estate, near Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 4AQ

From the A30 or A38, follow the brown signs for National Trust Lanhydrock. Continue past the entrance to Lanhydrock’s main car park. At the end of the road, turn right down Respryn Hill. Respryn car park is on the left just before the bridge.

The tidal pool: Porthtowan Tidal Pool

The wild waves and strong currents of the Atlantic can be daunting for even the strongest swimmer, but the north coast of Cornwall is dotted with sea pools that give swimmers a chance to bathe safely. Porthtowan tidal pool offers a safer place to enjoy the chilly Cornish seas and the perfect spot to bathe in clear waters and watch surfers catch waves down by the shore.

How to get there

Porthtowan Beach, Porthtowan, Truro TR4 8AW

Only accessible at low tide, this is a tricky pool to find. As you face towards the sea, head over to the rocks on the right-hand side of the beach and climb over them until you come to the hidden pool at the foot of the cliffs.