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Top 10 Ullswater swim spots

(15 minute read)

Our guide to open water swimming in Ullswater

From islands dotting the lake to high mountain tarns, we round up some of our favourite open water swimming spots around Ullswater, with help from local legends The Wild Swimming Brothers.

The Wild Swimming Brothers

Calum, Jack and Robbie Hudson are three Cumbrian brothers for whom open water swimming is more than a hobby – it’s a way of life.

“We’ve spent our lives seeking out the watery recesses of planet earth together – from swimming across Maelstroms in the Arctic Circle, to escaping Alcatraz by water, and circumnavigating an 18km island in Malaysia,” says middle brother, Calum, going on to explain how their passion began in the Lake District. “Growing up in Langwathby, the River Eden flowed past the bottom of our garden and Lake Ullswater was our local swim spot.

“When we heard about a new idyllic wild swimming retreat at Another Place on the shores of Ullswater, my younger brother Jack, our mum (AKA the Wild Swimming Mother!) and I leapt at the chance to experience it and uncover the best swim spots in and around this beautiful lake that has been ever-present throughout our lives.”

Get ready to go on your own aquatic adventure with our guide to open water swimming in the Ullswater area, sprinkled with insider knowledge from The Wild Swimming Brothers and our very own open water swimming expert, Colin Hill.

On our doorstep

Wild swimming from the hotel jetty

1. Ullswater from our private jetty

LEVEL: Beginner

“No truly great swim spot would be complete without a wooden jetty, and this one doesn’t disappoint,” says Calum. “Another Place has created a real sanctuary for swimmers.”

Our very own jetty is a short 100m-stroll from the hotel. Don your swimmers, grab a towel and tow-float, and dive straight into Ullswater’s cool embrace. From stargazing or full moon nightime floating to revitalising cold-water winter swims, group sessions in Ullswater are available to book under the expert guidance of our swim coach, Colin Hill.

Colin takes a range of sessions in Ullswater from an introduction to cold water swimming to full crosslake guided swims (complete with finishing medal). You can choose to combine swimming with a hike to Angle Tarn or join him on a short boat trip to Kailpot Crag where you can jump in from the rocks. He has something for all abilities and interests.

Do as the Scandinavians would and head back to the hotel for a plunge in our heated outdoor hot tub afterwards – or soothe tired limbs in the warmth of the Swim Club sauna.

Access to the jetty is only for hotel guests or those taking part in a coaching session with Ullswater Swim Place and/ or Another Place.

2. Endless pool, Ullswater Swim Place

LEVEL: Beginner, intermediate and advanced

“Regardless of ability, we’d recommend all swimmers make this endless pool their first swim at Another Place,” advises Calum.

A long-held dream for our swim coach extraordinaire, Colin Hill, our endless training pool joins up every aspect of the open water swimming experience at Another Place. Using underwater cameras and mirrors plus a TV monitor to give you instant feedback and expert advice on your technique, Colin combines thoughtful analysis with a warm and welcoming manner.

Ullswater

Our favourite spots to swim in the lake we call home – just a short hop from the hotel…

Swim from Glencoyne Bay to Norfolk Island

3. Glencoyne Bay to Norfolk Island

LEVEL: Intermediate

“Norfolk Island on Ullswater is a lovely island to swim out to and explore, and this route offers beautiful views up the lake,” says Colin. “But I would recommend that you have a support boat (and wear tow-floats) just to be safe, as you’re swimming across the lake for this one. And always remember to keep an out for the steamer boats!”

Access this swim from Silver Bay or Glencoyne Bay for easy entry and exit from the water.

Norfolk Island Lake District

4. Gowbarrow Bay

LEVEL: Beginner with intermediate options for a cross-lake swim

Offering something a little different, this atmospheric spot is a short drive from the hotel towards Glencoyne Bay. Taking advantage of the car park and pebbled beach for easy entry and exit, be sure to stop and admire the tangle of gnarled tree roots that frame the banks of the lake here.

“If you’re a more accomplished swimmer or you want to challenge yourself, then this is a good spot for a point-to-point crossing of the lake, as it’s fairly narrow,” explains Calum.

Gowbarrow Summit

5. Howtown

LEVEL: Beginner to intermediate

As students at Ullswater Community College, the Wild Swimming Brothers would regularly drive down to Howtown and leap off the pier for a summertime refresher. Follow their lead and head to the long pebble beach at Howtown for an easy but satisfying lake swim.

For those wanting to make a day of it, a hike up nearby Hallin Fell offers spectacular views across Ullswater and the surrounding hilltops – and helps you work up an appetite for a picnic when you reach the bottom.

Glenridding

6. Glenridding / Cherry Holm Island / Devils Chimney

LEVEL: Advanced

For a swim that encompasses exploring an island and leaping off a rocky crag, try this route from Glenridding and follow Colin’s expert advice:

“Park at the lakeshore at Ullswater Steamers Car Park in Glenridding, and start swimming to the right of the steamer jetty (don’t swim close to the jetty and look out for steamers coming in and out – ideally have someone in a kayak for support and use a tow-float for increased visibility). Swim across to Cherry Holm island and continue across the lake down the shore past Bloweick Bay and then to the Devil’s Chimney Crag with its famous jumping-off point.”

Glenridding

7. Silver Bay

LEVEL: Beginner

Below the looming Silver Crag, through the bracken, you’ll find the idyllic pebbly ‘secret beach’ otherwise known as Silver Bay: a beautiful spot for a sheltered lake swim. Parking is approximately 1.5 miles away at Patterdale. From Patterdale, walk around the lake (following the Ullswater Way footpath) for views over the water to Glenridding and the Helvellyn range.

Further afield

8. Grisedale Tarn

LEVEL: Walk and swim intermediate

Derived from the Old Norse word tjörn, meaning pond, a tarn is a small mountain lake. Formed when river or rainwater fills the amphitheatre-like hollows created by glacial erosion, tarns also make for a memorable wild swim spot.

There are over 200 tarns of differing character in Cumbria, but Grisedale Tarn is one of Colin Hill’s favourites for a swim. “Grisedale Tarn is nestled amongst Fairfield Horseshoe, Seat Saddle, Dollywaggon Pike and Helvellyn up above,” he explains. “The walk up there is quite long, but it’s really worth it.”

To reach Grisedale Tarn, Colin recommends parking at Patterdale, then joining the bridleway and following the footpath all the way up along Grisedale Beck. From Patterdale to the tarn, it’s a 0.6km walk.

9. Angle Tarn

LEVEL: Walk and swim intermediate

At 470m above sea level, Angle Tarn is one of the highest bodies of water in the Lake District – and, according to local legend Wainwright, one of its most scenic.

Starting in Patterdale car park, the 3km hike up here is part of the experience. Skirting the base of Place Fell and heading up to Angletarn Pikes Fell, the walk to and from the swim affords magnificent views onto the Helvellyn range and across Ullswater.

“It makes you feel so alive, getting up into the hills and swimming in one of these high mountain tarns,” says Colin. “The water is so fresh and clear.”

Join our 4 hour guided hike and swim in Angle Tarn. Every Wednesday, May to September.

Swimming in Brothers Water

10. Brothers Water

LEVEL: Beginner

“We couldn’t be the Wild Swimming Brothers and not include our namesake lake!” laughs Calum. “Surrounded by picturesque hillsides, green fields and grazing sheep, Brothers Water is one of the smallest lakes (or largest tarns, depending on how you look at it) in the Lake District, and considered one of its prettiest.”

Located just above Lake Ullswater in the Hartsop Valley, Brothers Water offers a secluded swim spot a short drive from the hotel. Swimmers can use the small car park and pebbled beach when entering and exiting the water (and for that all-important post-swim tea and cake).

BONUS SWIM: Scales Tarn

LEVEL: Beginner, intermediate and advanced – depending on the time spent in the water

Not far from Another Place lies one of the Lake District’s most iconic peaks, the mighty Blencathra. Halfway up Blencathra is Scales Tarn.

“Tarns are usually a degree or two colder than most lakes, so this should be a short swim for those new to wild swimming,” says Calum. “But a dip in Scales Tarn is the perfect way to celebrate after scampering up Sharp Edge. Brace yourself, dive in and enjoy!”

Head to Scales on the A66, then take the path along Scales Fell until you reach the saddle between Souther Fell and Scales Fell. From the saddle take the flat path to Scales Beck, cross the beck and follow the stream up to Scales Tarn.

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