Splash! Best outdoor swimming spots
It's getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes! Now dive into our guide to the best open water swimming locations in Berkshire. No bombing, running or heavy petting.
If you’re melting like a Solero and the paddling pool in’t cutting it, head to our favourite outdoor swimming destinations in Berkshire. Sunscreen. Towels. Drinking water. Salty snack. Liberal amounts of common sense to stay safe. Go!
HEAD TO THE RIVER
Hurley Lock is a great spot for families and swimmers to take a dip. This picture perfect village, just outside Maidenhead sits on a lovely stretch of the Thames and Hurley Lock is an island (offering sun and shade) with a shallow shelving beach. A little further out the water gradually deepens so swimmers can keep their cool. Park in the church car park, head down the alley and over the bridge. The cherry on top? The fact that there are toilets and a tearoom. It gets busy, so get there early.
Sulhampstead, River Kennet
The River Kennet flows through beautiful open meadows and this swim spot is a couple of miles from J12 of the M4. Access is good from Tyle Mill Lock – head upstream for ancient willow trees or downstream to a pretty swing bridge, leading eventually to Sheffield Bottom Lock. The Spring Inn is nearby for a refreshments and the loo.
Sonning, River Thames
Fancy seeing George Clooney in his budgie smugglers? *Cue stampede*. Get yourself down to Sonning. Once you have crawled over Sonning Bridge there’s a path down to the riverbank. When the sun shines it is packed with families and teens, who love the easy access to the river. If you’re looking for peace and tranquility you won’t find it here, but the views are spectacular. Keep your eye out for passing boats and, if you can’t be arsed to pack a picnic, The Great House and Coppa Club are right behind you.
Streatley, River Thames
Say hello to wide stretches of the Thames with still waters. There are good swimming spots at Streatley but it is deep in places so walk the tow path to find an area that suits your abilities. It’s also a good spot to paddle board (The Swan at Streatley offers SUP sessions with an instructor). Don’t pass go without treating yourself to a drink, snacks in the Swan’s cafe/bar or book lunch with a view at the Coppa Club.
Pangbourne, River Thames
This is one of the best wild swim spots in the county. Head upstream a few miles towards Upper Basildon and you’ll find a wonderful wild stretch of river with chalky banks, clear water – and not a building in sight. Alternatively lots of people access the water from Pangbourne Meadows. Boats do pootle up and down this stretch, so it’s something to be aware of. There’s also a car Park and public loos, so the meadows is a place your can spend the day and picnic.
Jubilee River Swim, Maidenhead to Windsor
If you catch the open water bug, join the Jubilee Swim on 5 September 2021. The man made flood relief channel between Boulters Lock nr Maidenhead and Pococks Lane in Eton is free from craft and is a convenient length at 10km! There are three weirs along the rivers length that break up the swim nicely, and you’ll find our feed stations here.
THIS WAY TO THE LAKE
Bray Lake, Maidenhead
Bray Lake has it all going on – beautiful location and the largest independent water sports club in the country offering kids clubs and more water sports than you can paddle at. Join an early morning or evening Open Swim or sign up for swim coaching. For more water-based fun for all the family you can also learn to windsurf, sail, paddleboard or rent equipment to get out on the lake. The water is currently a balmy 21°C. There’s an on site cafe, changing rooms and lifeguards.
Caversham Lake, Reading
Open water swimming is available at Caversham Lake, where you can swim a 400m, 750m or 1500m course. Booking is essential but you can dive in from 6am-8pm (Tues/Thu/Sat/Sun) and 10am-8pm (Mon/Wed/Fri). If you’re wearing a swimsuit you have to wear a swim tow float, but it’s a small price to pay. Need more of an adrenaline rush? Sign up for the Inflatable obstacle course, paddle boarding or kayaking. Or simply lay flat out on the family beach and get those holiday vibes from the beach club and cafe.
Taplow Lakeside, Taplow
Open water swims take place on Sat and Sun mornings and Tues and Thurs evenings at this family owned business on the Berks border. You will need a National Open Water Coaching Association (Nowca) membership to swim (membership is £12 a year including the wristband) and then single swims are £6.50. No children under 8 allowed and 8 to 12-year-olds will need to be accompanied by an adult.
Horseshoe Lake Activity Centre, Sandhurst
Another super-safe spot to get the open water swim bug is Horseshoe Lake Activity Centre in Sandhurst. If you an old hand at wild swimming you can book a morning or evening session for £7. If you’re keen to learn how to wild swim safely and effectively (available for adults and kids), they run group and 1:1 classes. For Duracell bunnies there’s also paddle boarding, kayaking, Aeroball and SUP yoga. Yikes!