2021 has been a fantastic year when it comes to our wild swimming journey! Like many others we have turned to the joy of nature to switch off. Many a weekend we find ourselves trekking around Scotland searching for new experiences to help us deal with these peculiar times. Many of those experiences have included throwing ourselves into cold Scottish water to somehow make ourselves feel that little bit more alive! We have found comfort in secluded beaches, calm lochs, inviting waterfall pools and mysterious caves. The cold water numbing our anxiety and invigorating our hardy Scottish souls! Not every experience is a swim. Some are dips, some are bobs and some are short paddles. We don’t discriminate and just love the feeling of cold Scottish water right up to our necks! Are you with us?
We feel lucky to have experienced wild swimming in some of the most beautiful locations around Scotland. With every new find our hunger grows and we are always on the lookout for new and exciting spots. We love sharing ideas and experiences with the swimming community. Hopefully other people can get as much enjoyment from them as we did. All we ask is that you leave these places as you find them, take away any litter and respect the locals (especially when it comes to parking) If you can pick up some stray litter on your adventures even better!
Safety should always be your number one priority. There are several things to consider before immersing yourself in cold open water. We have written a full blog on the health benefits and risks involved in cold water swimming. It is well worth having a read before visiting any of these locations.
2022 is just around the corner and we cannot wait to discover new places to swim and bob. Here are our top 15 wild swimming, dipping and bobbing spots of 2021, in no particular order.
Scottish Temples: Loch Skene
Who knew there were temples in Scotland? On the edge of an unassuming Loch in the North East of Scotland sits the temple of Skene. While it appears to be a ruin it is actually a folly that once acted as a Port Cochere at Dunecht House. It now acts as a great gateway for a dip in the Loch.
The water was cold but calm when we visited, but the temple just provides a stunning frame for a photo! For the novelty factor alone, this is a place you just have to visit!
Be prepared for a boggy walk to reach the temple or consider doing what we did and paddle board or swim over to the Temples from a point where you can park safely and access the loch.
Slide right into a Scottish Loch : Loch Tay
Loch Tay is a beautiful Scottish loch nestled in between mountains and trees in the Perthshire countryside. Taymouth Marina Spa has introduced a Loch Tay slide as part of their HotBox Spa. We spent an afternoon zooming down the slide, swimming in the loch and jumping on the water trampoline. When it started to get too cold, we slid into the giant hot tub to heat ourselves up. We repeated the process several times, trying the huge sauna and steam room too!
This is probably the most luxurious of our wild swimming spots and the only one that you pay to access, however we couldn’t leave it out after how much fun we all had flying down the slide into the cold loch below!
If you would like to book this outdoor spa click here
Dramatic Cave: Fingals Cave
We absolutely loved our trip to Fingal’s Cave. A visit here is a must do experience in our book! With its otherworldly rock formations, long cavern, and magical surroundings it is a truly breath-taking place to visit. And guess what we couldn’t resist having a dip during our trip there. I have to say it is one of the most amazing places I have bobbed about to date!
I would say if you plan on going for a swim here beware of the waves, especially the wake from incoming boats that could potentially push you into jagged rocks. We recommend swimming only in the entrance to the cave and to make sure there are no boats in the vicinity. Luckily you can see boats coming from some distance away, so it is possible to time your dip at the quietest time!
Wild swimming here is only possible when the water is VERY CALM. You will be able to assess when you arrive, as if it’s wild there is absolutely no chance of entering the crashing waves!
For more info on our day trip to Fingal’s Cave click here.
Disused Quarries: Easdale
Easdale has seven disused quarries on the island. A tidal wave in 1850 covered all these slate quarries with water. Some of the quarries are up to 80 metres deep! This island is something of a swimmer’s paradise. We found several good spots around the quarry to jump into the deep water below. Remember to acclimatise yourself to the water before leaping in and assess the water first to make sure the depth is sufficient!
The boat to Easdale is £2 return from the Isle of Seil which can be reached by a bridge over the Atlantic from mainland Scotland. The crossing to Easdale is short so we paddled over which added to our adventure.
Beware of the sharp edges and remember that the water gets deep very quickly.
A Scottish Paradise: Luskentyre
Arguably the most famous beach in the whole of Scotland is Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris. The sand at Luskentyre stretches on for miles and the water is painted turquoise and perpetually shallow. The backdrop of shaded mountains completes the picturesque spot.
We spent a magical day and night at Luskentyre, camping, paddle boarding and wild swimming.
Waking up to the sun splitting the sky across Luskentyre beach goes down as one of my most cherished moments to date. A mere handful of people were dotted across the vast beach as we blew up our paddleboard ready for a morning of fun in the water. As I paddled out from the beach I couldn’t believe how long the water stayed shallow. Because of this, no matter how far I went I didn’t get out of my depth. I could see through the water as if it wasn’t there. The sun glistened across the water’s ripples as my paddle cut through the surface. The translucence momentarily lost with the motion. We paddled, swam, played, and laughed like kids! I can’t begin to explain how magical this morning was and I highly encourage any water enthusiasts to get to this beach as soon as possible!
A Truly Magical Waterfall: Den Finella
When we learned there was a waterfall that shared Fin’s first name we just HAD to visit it and wow we were not disappointed. The waterfall is situated in Aberdeenshire and gets its name from a noble woman who apparently threw herself from the top of the falls in the 10th Century.
Lady Finella killed the king to avenge the death of her son and then fled to the top of the waterfall where she ultimately leapt to her death.
There could have been another Finella joining the folklore as the path down to the waterfall is extremely dangerous and one slip could have sent us tumbling over the edge. This path should not be attempted unless you feel very confident and are used to hiking. There is a rudimentary rope system to help you down the steep edge, but I would suggest steering clear altogether if the path is wet in any way shape or form.
If you decide to head down to the waterfall you will be rewarded with a beautiful scene and a lovely large pool at the foot of the waterfall that you can swim in! It is a magical, albeit it dangerous place.
Another Beautiful Waterfall: Wailing Widow Falls
Wailing Widow Falls sit just off the NC500 route in the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. You can quite easily drive right past them if you don’t know they are there.
These falls are again named after a distressed women who allegedly threw herself from the top of the falls after being tormented by the death of her son.
The path to these falls starts from the road and while tricky underfoot it doesn’t have any of the danger of the path to Den Finella. If you are reasonable mobile, you should manage it no problem.
The flow of the waterfall can vary depending on how much rainfall there’s been. The day we went the flow was very calm and presented perfect conditions to have a dip in the waterfall pool below. We came prepared with wetsuits, water boots and dry robes for afterwards! The water is cold but refreshing and comes from Loch na Gainmhich above. We both agreed it was the most beautiful spot for an impromptu dip. The experience was made even better since we had it all to ourselves. Read more about the Wailing Widow, how to find it and why it got its name here.
A Famous Loch: Loch Ness
The most famous Loch in Scotland had to make our list due to its beauty, mystery, and invigoratingly cold waters!
Despite its fame there is still something magical about wild swimming in Loch Ness. It somehow manages to remain intimate despite its name being coveted around the world. Perhaps it is its legend, or maybe its spectacular Highland backdrop. Whatever it is, I always feel really at home when in the loch. Something to note is that Loch Ness is cold ALL THE TIME. It never freezes over, and it never heats up. It stays at a cool 5c all year round, so unless you are acclimatised to the cold, I would recommend wearing a wetsuit.
Along with swimming we also love to paddle board here. Dores Beach and Loch End are two of the spots we go to most often. Just watch our for the monster! We hear he’s a toe nibbler.
A Breathtaking Beach: Achemlvich
Probably one of the most beautiful beaches in the Highlands, Achmelvich bay is a truly stunning spot for a swim. The beautiful turquoise water contrasts with the pristine white sand, creating a picture perfect location for a swim.
The only issue with Achmelvich is that it can get very busy in the summer. If you prefer a more peaceful swim then I would suggest going out of season. If you manage to get it on a quiet day, it is a very special experience.
Off the Beaten Track: Camasunary
It was inevitable that Skye was going to feature in this list and to be honest it could have been one of a number of places. The Camasunary area is remote, peaceful and breathtakingly beautiful. All the components of a great wild swimming spot.
Camasunary is around 6 miles from Elgol (which is also a good wild swimming spot) and is reached by walking along a cliff-edged path. While there we swam in the waterfall pools at the foot of Blaven, had a paddle in the bay and also swam around the “bad step” on the way to Loch Coruisk as I am a little scared of heights and didn’t fancy scaling it. The surrounding landscape made this a truly magical place to have a dip!
Some of the best swim spots are often far from roads. The reward is you’ll probably have it all to yourself.
Wonderful Waterfalls: The Two Pattack Waterfalls
Pattack Falls and the Falls of Pattack are two separate waterfalls on the same river in Cairngorm National Park. Pattack Falls has a large carpark and are right beside the road, whereas the Falls of Pattack are more difficult to find and require a bit of a hike to reach. Both have good pools for wild swimming and together they make up one of my favourite areas for a quick cold-water dip!
If you prefer a more intimate dip, I definitely recommend the Falls of Pattack. The waterfall is beautiful, the water is crystal clear and there is a good chance you will get the spot all to yourself!
Swim with the Bonnie Prince: Gilmour’s Linn
Gilmour’s Linn waterfall and Charlie’s Cave, also known as Touch Glen Waterfall is a hidden gem situated in Touch Glen just outside Stirling. It is backed with a long cave which has links to Bonnie Prince Charlie, hence why it has been nicknamed Charlie’s Cave.
You can walk all around the cave at the back of the waterfall and view the waterfall from behind. The pool is also a great place for a refreshing dip! We certainly enjoyed jumping in the cold water! The pool was probably around 4ft at its deepest when we visited and it is possible to get directly under the waterfall if you fancy a cold shower!
Quieter alternative to the fairy pools: Allt Dariach
Looking for a quieter alternative to the Fairy Pools in Skye? Allt Dariach Pools waterfalls and pools are every bit as magical as their more famous neighbours, and their lack of notability makes them a more peaceful location. Due to their relative obscurity we were able to spend the full day here without being disturbed. The nearby Fairy Pools will always draw the crowds and because of this Allt Daraich pools are a great alternative for a quiet dip.
There are a couple of pools in this area that you can swim in. We spent most of our time in the bottom of the two pools. The water is clear with a turquoise glow. A large waterfall flows from the rocks above, providing a constant flow of fresh, pure water. The spot is secluded with areas around the pool to sit and relax.
Sunrise Swim: Rosemarkie Beach
Rosemarkie has a wonderful sandy beach and is a fantastic location to witness beautiful sunrises. We recently attended a group swim here to protest sewage and plastic in our precious waterways.
This was our first ever group swim and it was nice to experience outdoor swimming with a group of likeminded people. We are met early morning at around 7. 30am and braved the chilly water for a sunrise swim.
This popular highland beach attracts lots of people on a sunny day and dolphins can often be spotted here. Imagine having a swim here and seeing a dolphin pop up beside you! We can dream!
Ice dip with castle view: Loch an Eilein
Loch an Eilein translates to loch of the island and when you see its impressive castle ruins you can see why. The Loch is nestled amongst picturesque Scottish surroundings about 5 miles from Aviemore. We visited on a cold February morning and the centre of the loch was covered in a thick layer of ice.
As the loch was almost completely covered in ice there was no actual wild swimming but it didn’t take much convincing for Fin to make her way in for a quick ice dip! Read the full blog here. Normally its possible to swim over to the Castle when the loch is not frozen.
Something for everyone
This is just a small selection of some of the most beautiful places we have braved Scotland’s chilly waters this past year.
We have included waterfall pools, lochs, and beaches to give a variety of options- whether you are a weathered open water swimmer, a casual dipper or a beautiful bobber there should be something for you!
Please remember to be safe when you head out and let us know about your future adventures!! If you would like to use our map to find some of these spots please click here or scan this QR code.
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