Scotland, a breathtaking country, boasts countless enchanting spots for wild swimming across its countryside, mountains, and coastline. While it's impossible to cover them all, we've handpicked our favourite wild swimming island, loch, and beach to give you a taste of Scotland's offerings.
When swimming in open water in Scotland, it's crucial to remember that the water tends to be colder. Therefore, adequate preparation, knowledge of safety measures, and the right equipment are essential. For instance, wearing a full-length wetsuit and a swim cap can provide some protection against the cold water.
Additionally, bringing safety equipment along is vital to increase your visibility in the water.
Enhanced visibility not only ensures your safety around watercraft but also enables rescue teams to locate you swiftly in emergencies. So, what equipment should you bring? The primary item to consider is a brightly coloured tow float or a dry bag. It's also beneficial if your swim cap is brightly coloured.
Best Island - Isle of Arran
Renowned as a miniature version of Scotland, the Isle of Arran on Scotland's western coast showcases the country's natural beauty, encompassing mountains and coastline. The island boasts breathtaking beaches, magnificent glens, and a diverse range of wildlife, making every moment spent there a blissful experience.
While there are numerous extraordinary wild swimming spots in Scotland, it would be impossible to cover all the stunning locations on Arran. Instead, let us guide you through our personal favourites. Arran offers an abundance of beautiful beaches along its entire coast, leaving you spoilt for choice.
For swimming, we highly recommend the sandy shores of Blackwaterfoot, Kildonan, Brodick, and Sannox. Additionally, the bays of Lochranza, offering a view of the castle, and Lamlash, with its vistas across to Holy Isle, are perfect for a refreshing dip.
However, it is important to be cautious of jellyfish when swimming in the sea around Arran. To protect yourself, we advise wearing swimming gloves, socks, and a full-length wetsuit.
In terms of rivers and glens, a visit to Glen Rosa is a must. You can either embark on a walk from Brodick or park near Glen Rosa Campsite and follow the riverside footpath that leads to several swimming pools scattered along Glenrosa Water, including the renowned Blue Pools.
Another favored spot for river swimming is near the village of Sannox. Begin by parking at Sannox beach and embark on a picturesque walk up Glen Sannox to discover a variety of pools along the footpath. If luck is on your side, you may even spot a deer or two.
Seeking a swimming spot that requires less walking?
Head towards North Sannox by turning off the A841 towards the North Sannox picnic spot and park in one of the roadside spaces before the bridge.
From there, follow the small footpath adjacent to the bridge, which will lead you to the river. After a short stroll, you'll encounter a bench and a charming rocky beach next to a pool in North Sannox Burn.
This pool is formed by a series of small waterfalls spanning the width of the river (be cautious while exploring the larger rocks around the pool, as they can be slippery).
Best Loch Swim - Loch Leven
Scotland boasts over 30,000 lochs, many of which serve as excellent destinations for wild swimming. Notable among them are the renowned Loch Ness and Loch Lomond.
However, our personal favourite for wild swimming is Loch Leven. Situated as a tidal sea loch, it lies adjacent to Loch Linnhe and is separated by the Ballachulish Bridge in North Ballachulish. Extending down to Kinlochleven, Loch Leven offers shallower and safer waters for swimming, accompanied by breathtaking landscapes.
Wildlife enthusiasts, in particular, will relish the experience of taking a plunge in this remarkable loch.
To access the loch, the Isle of Glencoe and the West Pier in the village of Ballachulish are the recommended entry points. Additionally, Ballachulish provides convenient facilities for swimmers, including a car park, toilets, and cafes. I
t is important to remain vigilant for any warning signs indicating the presence of toxic blue-green algae, which can occasionally bloom in the loch. If such signs are posted, it is crucial to refrain from swimming in Loch Leven.
Best Beach Swim - Camusdarach Beach
Camusdarach Beach, located on the western coast of the Scottish Highlands near the mouth of the River Morar, offers a series of exquisite sandy beaches.
Among them, the most remarkable is Camusdarach Beach, known for its pristine white sands, calm and crystal-clear waters, convenient carpark facilities, and protection from strong winds, courtesy of its curved shape and projecting headlands.
This beach holds a special appeal for different individuals; some are drawn to its connection as a filming location for the renowned 1983 film, "Local Hero," while others are captivated by its breathtaking beauty and panoramic vistas, encompassing the islands of Eigg, Rum, and Skye.