Best Wild Swimming Spots in Oxfordshire

Due to the surge in open water swimming's popularity following the Covid-19 lockdowns, numerous individuals are presently exploring nearby locations for wild swimming. Oxfordshire residents and those living in its vicinity have access to a wide array of open water swimming options. Whether it be the allure of outdoor swimming lakes or the opportunity to swim in the pristine and invigorating waters of the River Thames before it meanders through the capital city, this list guarantees the discovery of your next cherished swimming spot.

However, it is imperative to be cognisant of the inherent dangers and possess the knowledge to ensure your safety during your open water swim.


Queenford Lakes

  • Location: Dorchester-on-Thames
  • Price: £6.75-8
  • Swim course length: 400m, 750m, & 1km
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Bright coloured swim hat & tow float/bag

Managed by the Oxford Wakeboard & Ski Club, Queenford Lakes offers a diverse range of water activities, including open water swimming. Whether you are preparing for your next triathlon event or simply seeking a leisurely swim, this venue has something to offer. The lake features a 2.2km running track encircling its perimeter, providing an ideal training ground for triathletes. If a more relaxed swim is your preference, you can choose from three circuit lengths: 400m, 750m, and 1km.

To ensure safety, the lake is closely monitored by a dedicated team, and convenient facilities like showers and toilets are available on-site. It is important to make a reservation in advance for your swimming session. For those with NOWCA membership (which is highly recommended), the cost of your swim will be £6.75. Alternatively, if you prefer to swim as a guest without membership, the fee will be £8.

Bicester Outdoor Performance Lake

  • Location: Bicester
  • Price: £7
  • Supervised?: Yes
  • Requirements: Bright coloured swim hat & tow float/bag

Situated on the grounds of Bicester Hotel, southwest of Bicester, is the Bicester Outdoor Performance Lake. Spanning 200 meters in length and boasting an average depth of 2 meters, this lake caters to wild swimmers of all proficiency levels. An RLSS lifeguard is present to monitor the lake, providing assurance that assistance is readily available should any issues arise during your swim. If you lack confidence in open water or are new to outdoor swimming, this venue offers lessons tailored to enhance your wild swimming technique, accommodating individuals regardless of their level of swimming experience.

River Thames


Are you seeking a location along the River Thames where you can enjoy a lengthy swim? The area near Shillingford provides an excellent option as the river current is calm, creating an ideal setting for a relaxed and unhurried swim. We suggest entering the river at the picnic spot located north of the Shillingford Hotel. To reach this spot, you can easily park your vehicle at the Shillingford Hotel (please ensure you have cash for parking) and take a pleasant 15-minute walk along the western bank of the river.

Port Meadow

Port Meadow Country Park in Oxford boasts a stunning open water swimming spot where the River Thames flows from Wolvercote to Jericho. The park offers a variety of swimming experiences, with shallower water located near Godstow car park and deeper water further down the western bank. Whether you are looking for a brief refreshing dip or a more extended swim, Port Meadow is the ideal destination to fulfill your desires.

Buscot Weir

Buscot Weir is the farthest upstream swimming location featured in this list along the River Thames. The presence of a weir forms a delightful pool within the river, providing an excellent opportunity for outdoor swimming. This section of the River Thames offers an idyllic setting for a peaceful swim, with minimal current, shallow edges for easy entry, a deep center for swimming, and the tranquil surroundings of nature. Managed by the National Trust, Buscot Weir provides convenient amenities including a useful car park, toilets, and a nearby tearoom, ensuring a pleasant experience for visitors.

Clifton Hampden

As you wander through the charming village of Clifton Hampden, you will discover the River Thames. Whether you choose to swim upstream beneath the Clifton Hampden bridge towards the lock or opt for a downstream swim, passing by trees and fields, you will find several gravel entry points on both sides of the river. These entry areas provide convenient access to begin your swim and make it easier for you to enjoy the waters of the River Thames.

Minster Lovell

We have included this location as an additional wild swimming spot since it is situated in the River Windrush rather than the River Thames, although it eventually merges with the Thames. Situated in the picturesque village of Minster Lovell, this spot offers a delightful swimming experience, allowing you to meander along the river, passing through beautiful lines of trees and the 15th-century ruined manor house located right beside the water. A short 5-minute walk from Minster Lovell church leads you to a shallower section of the river, making it an ideal spot for entering and exiting the water with ease.

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