The Best Open Water Swimming Venues In Essex

With the open water swimming season coming up from April to September, the temperature of both the weather and the water is gradually increasing. Rather than following the masses to indoor swimming pools, consider immersing yourself in the serenity of outdoor swimming in nature.

However, it is crucial to bear in mind that open water swimming can be hazardous. It is important to be knowledgeable about the potential risks and the necessary precautions to ensure your safety.

Lake Swimming

Hadleigh Country Park

Location: Hadleigh, Benfleet

Price: £6.50

Swim course length: 380m

Supervised?: Yes

Requirements: Bright coloured swim hat, goggles, tow float/bag, Actio app, & NOWCA wristband

Summer is the perfect time to take advantage of the warm weather with an adventure in open water. Hadleigh Country Park is the perfect destination for wild swimming, featuring lifeguards, wristbands, and even changing facilities and hot showers. What's more, Actio App makes it easy to book a place in advance. So why not take a dip and make a splash.

Gosfield Lake

Location: Gosfield, Colchester

Price: £5

Swim course length: 300m, 1,200m, & 1,500m

Supervised?: Yes

Requirements: Tow float/bag & Gosfield Lake swim cap (£5)

If you're looking for the perfect place to go swimming, Gosfield Lake is worth considering. With its shallow depths and mud-bottom, it offers a range of distances, from a quick dip to a longer swim. It's also incredibly accessible— there are changing facilities, hot showers, and even a cafe onsite for when you're done. Whether it's for exercise or enjoyment, why not take advantage of all that Gosfield Lake has to offer?

Stubbers Adventure Centre

Location: Upminster

Skills session price: £25

Fitness session price: £12

Swim course length: 750m

Supervised?: Yes

Requirements: Wetsuit, bright coloured swim hat (not red), & Lakemate band (£10) or PoolMate Plus.

Stubbers Adventure Centre is a great place for open-water swimming and features a sprawling man-made lake for swimmers of all levels! Facilities like toilets, showers, a car park and hot drinks are available for making the experience even more enjoyable. New swimmers can join in too; all it takes is just one skills session (May-July) to be able to attend the fitness sessions with staff supervision. Swimming in the open water can be exhilarating, but also incredibly safe at Stubbers.

Mersea Boating Lake

Location: Mersea Island

Price: £5

Supervised?: Yes

Requirements: Tow float/bag

Mersea Boating Lake is a fantastic destination for open water swimming. With its year-round, weekday availability, the lake provides the perfect setting for leisurely swims, as well as intro sessions and private coaching. It even goes above and beyond with specialty events like swimming with your dog and family fun sessions to add a bit of something special. Whether you're a novice or an expert looking for more exciting activities in the water, Mersea Boating Lake has it all!

Swim Lakeside

Location: Thurrock

Price: £8.50

Swim course length: 40m, 100m, 150m, 200m, & 400m

Supervised?: Yes

Requirements: Bright coloured swim hat, tow float/bag, Actio app, & NOWCA wristband

Swim Lakeside is the perfect open water swimming venue for those who are new to the sport or aren't yet confident - with its shortest swim course measuring a mere 40m, newcomers have nothing to fear. The site at Alexandra Lake, located close to Intu Lakeside shopping centre, offers great facilities such as changing rooms and showers, as well as lockers (for which you must bring your own padlock). Like Hadleigh Country Park, access to this swimming venue requires the Actio app and a NOWCA wristband.

River Swimming

Dedham Vale

Location: Flatford Mill or Fen Bridge, near Dedham

Supervised?: No

In the rural areas of Essex lie two stunning outdoor swimming spots by the River Stour. The first one is Flatford Mill, a well-known spot for rowing and wild swimming. The other location is Fen Bridge, boasting river pools that are up to 2 meters deep. However, swimmers should be wary of weeds and the water's Grade C classification due to fertiliser content. Nevertheless, Fen Bridge is still a beautiful location and safe for swimming, although it is advisable to use a nose clip and ear plugs.

River Chelmer

Location: Ulting, Hatfield Peverel

Supervised?: No

Similar to the River Stour, there are several picturesque spots for open water swimming along the River Chelmer. The prime locations for swimming in the River Chelmer can be found around Hoe Mill Lock. If you enjoy wild swimming, then the two-mile stretch of the river downstream from Hoe Mill Lock is highly recommended. Alternatively, you can take a walk upstream and take a refreshing dip in the river across from Ulting church.

Sea Swimming

Chalkwell Beach

Location: Chalkwell, Southend-on-Sea

Supervised?: No

Chalkwell Beach is the perfect destination for anyone wanting to take a dip in the open sea. Whether you want to explore the area with a friend or go solo, Chalkwell Beach offers plenty of choices. There are several established swimming groups to join such as Southend Seals, Chalkwell Redcaps, Bluetits and mens Bluebells or you can choose to take an independent route. Whatever journey you decide to embark on at Chalkwell Beach, be sure to adhere to safety advice before making a splash.

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