The Peak District National Park spans 555 square miles, encompassing Derbyshire, Yorkshire, Staffordshire, and Cheshire counties. Situated between Manchester and Sheffield, this exquisite region in England boasts picturesque villages, stunning countryside, and various open water bodies eagerly awaiting your swimming adventures.
Given the rural character of the Peak District, many of the swimming locations listed here can only be accessed through countryside walks. It is crucial to emphasise that none of the spots on this list have lifeguards present for supervision. Hence, it is vital that you acknowledge the risks associated with open water and learn how to ensure your safety.
What do you need?
In order to ensure your safety while swimming in open water, it is crucial to have the appropriate equipment. Being easily visible in the water is essential to facilitate prompt identification by rescue teams during emergencies. To enhance your visibility, it is recommended to wear a brightly coloured swim cap and carry a tow float or dry bag while swimming.
The British weather is not always synonymous with warmth and sunshine, even during the summer. After swimming in cold open water, it is essential to dry off and warm up adequately. Since many of these swims are part of longer countryside walks, it is convenient to bring a lightweight towel stored in a lightweight bag. Additionally, having a warm hat to wear after your swim can prove quite useful.
Where to swim?
The Chee Dale walk, located near Buxton, offers a picturesque route alongside the River Wye. As you traverse the gorge, you will encounter enchanting stepping stones and discover breathtaking wild swimming spots. To fully enjoy this experience, we suggest wearing water shoes during your walk. This will allow you to comfortably explore the shallow areas of the river and indulge in refreshing swims in its deeper sections.
As the River Derwent meanders through the rural landscape, it gracefully passes through the sprawling estate of Chatsworth House. Besides its scenic allure, this location serves as an enchanting destination for a family day trip, offering opportunities to explore the majestic residence, traverse the park grounds, and indulge in a delightful picnic. Furthermore, it presents an idyllic setting for outdoor swimming. With sections of the river featuring both shallow and deep areas, entering and exiting the water is effortless. This unique characteristic makes it an ideal spot to relish a swim in the deeper regions while your little ones delight in paddling within the shallower waters.
Three Shires Head
The Three Shires Head is the precise location where Cheshire, Staffordshire, and Derbyshire, three neighbouring counties, converge. At this particular spot, the River Dane gracefully courses, creating a captivating array of picturesque waterfalls and pools that are perfect for enjoying a wild swim during the summer months. The water, flowing directly from the nearby hills, possesses remarkable clarity, but do bear in mind that it can be quite cold, so be prepared.
To reach this delightful swimming spot, you can follow the Three Shires Head circular walk. There are various distances you can choose to traverse in order to reach the enchanting waterfalls and pools, but we highly recommend the 3.8-mile walk starting from Gradbach car park.
In the village of Youlgreave, by the River Bradford, you'll find a designated area for wild swimming. This spot is perfect for enjoying a swim whether you're alone, with friends, or even with children, as there are stone slabs that create a safe paddling area. Remember, it's essential to swim only within the designated swimming zone. When it comes to parking, the village has limited spaces available. Therefore, we recommend parking at Moor Lane car park, which is a mile away from the swimming area. It's a convenient option, allowing you to enjoy a pleasant walk to reach the swim spot.
Situated in the northern part of the Derwent Valley area, just before the River Derwent meanders through Howden Reservoir, Upper Derwent Reservoir, and Ladybower Reservoir, you'll discover the Slippery Stones wild swimming plunge pool. While the swimming area in this pool may be small, and caution should be exercised due to the currents, it is undeniably a stunning location to take a break and enjoy a swim during your walk around the three reservoirs.
Blake Mere Pool
Located northeast of Leek, amidst the scenic moorland, you'll find an intriguing open water swimming pool, brimming with enigma. According to local lore, the lake is said to be inhabited by a woman. Tales diverge as to her nature, with some claiming she is the spirit of a witch who met her watery demise, while others insist she is a captivating mermaid. However, it is important to distinguish this pool from Mermaid's Pool near Kinder Scout, which is also believed to harbor a mermaid but poses greater challenges in terms of accessibility.