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6 of the best wild swimming spots in The Cotswolds

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The outdoor pools and lidos may be closed (Cirencester and Cheltenham are two great options ‘normally’), but the rivers, lakes and wild swimming spots around The Cotswolds are free and open for business – there are plenty of secluded (and more popular) spots to choose from, with sandy beaches, shallow pools for little ones and refreshing longer swims for more confident swimmers to cool off.

Minster Lovell, Witney
A small, pretty Cotswold river in one of the most beautiful wild swimming spots in The Cotswolds, running through the beautiful grounds of Minster Lovell ruins. Deep enough to swim above the weir, with plenty of shady spots to picnic on the banks.

Buscot Weir, Lechlade
The river here has carved a natural deep weir pool, lined with beautiful weeping willows – great for confident swimmers, as the trees make natural diving platforms and the lawns are great for drying off and watching the antics.

Cheese Wharf, Lechlade
Once a river loading dock for 20 tonnes of cheese a day, Cheese Wharf just upstream from Buscot Weir now offers a deep pool on the river’s bend with a roadside glade for some much needed escape from the heat, as well as rope swings into the river for those who dare.

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Stonesfield, Evenlode
A great option with smaller children, Stonesfield is accessed over a pretty footbridge with max 80cm depth and gentle grassy bank access into the clean water. A great fact for little adventurers – it is the site of the first ever dinosaur find in the UK, with plenty of opportunities for fossil hunting along the water line. Downstream from the bridge is privately owned, but head west to ‘Sandy Bay’ for the best bathing area.

River Windrush nr Widford – Burford
Another shallower option is just off the public footpath from St Oswald’s Church in Widford, towards Burford along the river Windrush. Lots of spots to swim and it’s too shallow for boats so safe for little ones.

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Cotswold Country Park and Beach
Not exactly wild swimming, but the Cotswold Country Park and Beach has reopened its bookings for the UK’s largest inland paddling beach just in time for the heatwave. Many of the amenities are yet to open but the family friendly main beach at the south lake is open for some bucket and spade fun. There is also the opportunity for endurance open water swimming in the next door north lake for experienced wild swimmers. There’s plenty of parkland to enjoy if you’re looking for a shady spot for a picnic or a snooze. A great day out if you are missing the seaside.

Books to read
Looking to try wild swimming? here are three great summer reads to both inspire the art of wild swimming and help you discover your own favourite spots around the UK.

Waterlog – A swimmer’s journey through Britain, Roger Deakin
A brilliantly descriptive, poetic read that really sells the romance and freedom of wild swimming - following Roger Deakin around the British Isles from laps in his own Moat, to plenty of recognisable stretches along the Thames and her tributories.

The Mindful Art of Wild Swimming, Tess Wardley
Wild swimming, especially in cold water, has long been shown to have mental health benefits - Tess Wardley's book shares expert and personal anecdotes on the spiritual act of wild swimming as a form of mindful connection to nature.

Wild Swimming, Daniel Start
A wild swimming 'bible' - this photographic guide shares almost 400 spots across the UK to wild swim, with lots of info on where to eat, camp and even take a boat. There are all important safety and access notes too, brilliant for those who've caught the bug and want to find new places to take a dip. The definitive guide to wild swimming in the UK.