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Wild water swimming is the new craze that’s taking the world by storm. This low-cost hobby is good for both your physical and mental health, and helps you see the best of the natural world! It’s no surprise really that it’s growing in popularity.
Wondering what wild water swimming might be? Or interested to know the best spots for it in Norfolk? Well, read on to find out more – and to discover how you can stay safe whilst enjoying the water! ..
Wild water swimming might sound a bit, well, wild. But it’s an activity lots of us can easily enjoy – as long as you’re a strong and confident swimmer! In Norfolk we’re blessed with some stunning beaches, gorgeous rivers, and the beautiful Broads. But what is wild water swimming?
Essentially, it means swimming outdoors. In the sea, rivers or lakes (as opposed to a nice heated indoor pool!). Braving the elements may seem a little drastic for some, but if you’re keen to try swimming outside now the weather is warmer, it’s the perfect time to try! And soon – you’ll find your body will acclimatise to being in the water – but remember, it’s important to take it slowly and not push yourself too much to begin with. Plus, it’s a great way to keep fit, connect with nature, and take some time for yourself.
Remember, the cold water might be a shock to begin with, so take your time to get comfortable, and don’t swim out too far too quickly. Always make sure you have a swimming buddy, and consider a brightly coloured swimming hat!
Interested? Read on for our top wild swimming spots in Norwich and Norfolk, and for some helpful safety tips too!
Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden
Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden is a beautiful garden with 130 acres to explore. But did you know it also has access to South Walsham Broad? Perfect for beginners and those wanting to start wild swimming with a group of people, Fairhaven Woodland and Water Garden offers supervised open water swims on Wednesday evenings. All you need is an annual membership to Fairhaven Gardens, which start at only £24 per year (and you’ll need to be signed off as being able to swim safely by Fairhaven Gardens before attending the session – get in touch for more details.)
Lots of Norfolk’s beaches have lifeguards, meaning you can swim with confidence. Plus, who doesn’t love a beach? Our favourite Norfolk beaches with lifeguards have to include Mundesley Beach, Sheringham and Cromer. Why not make a day of it while you’re at the beach and treat yourself to some nice hot fish and chips once you’ve had your swim? Remember to plan ahead and take into consideration tide times, and the hours when lifeguards are on duty.
Okay, okay, so we know this isn’t a wild swimming location really. But if you want to get a feel for wild water swimming, in the safety of a supervised pool, Beccles Lido is the place to go. It has three outdoor pools for you to dip your toe in, which are heated in summer. In fact, the Lido operated its first winter season in 2020, giving people the chance to experience some cold-water swimming – and similar events are being planned for this year.
Not sure if wild water swimming is for you, but still want to experience the wonderful waterways this county has to offer? Never fear! There are plenty of other water-based activities that are heaps of fun.
Whitlingham Country Park
A gorgeous country park right in the heart of Norwich, Whitlingham also has its own Broad. Did you know that as well as enjoying the beautiful green space for walks and bike rides, you can also hire crafts to take out on the water? Whether you’d prefer to kayak, paddleboard or canoe, you can hire a boat from as little as £12 per person.
The grounds of Holkham Hall are stunning, with acres to explore. There’s plenty of wildlife, with the herd of fallow deer there an absolute highlight. Plus, with a nature reserve (one of the largest in the country) and a beach with miles of sand and dunes to walk, it’s the perfect place to reconnect with nature. You can also book yourself a rowing boat to take out on the serene lake at the Hall. Only £16 for 45 minutes – with boats holding up to five people.
Whether you plan to head to the coast for a dip, or you prefer the warm comforts of a hotel room, there are some great places to stay in Norfolk that are surrounded by lovely waterways for you to enjoy.
Reedham Ferry Inn
What better way to experience the wonderful nature in Norfolk than to take a whole weekend to soak it all in. And that’s what you’ll get at Reedham Ferry Inn. Pitch up a tent and get ready to explore. From this location you are perfectly situated for the Broads (one of the UK’s 15 national parks, made up of over 60 open areas of water and seven rivers.) And the Norfolk coast (Cromer in North Norfolk is an hour away, Great Yarmouth is west, only 20 minutes’ drive away). The site offers modern toilet facilities, tumble-dryer, numerous standpipes, BBQ, electric link-ups, free slipway for guests and a private fishing lake.
The Norfolk Mead
Located only 6 miles from Norwich, The Norfolk Mead is a luxury 4-star boutique hotel on the edge of the Broads, with an enviable position by the water on their own private Broad. Coltishall itself marks the start of the navigable portion of the River Bure, so it’s the perfect place from which to discover all the Broads national park has to offer.
For an added touch of luxury, why not take a picnic on board the hotels open topped six-seater English Harbour Yacht? Priced at £100 for four hours, or £185 for a full day, this is one way to make your stay unforgettable.
If you’re staying in the Broads, you must take the opportunity to hire a boat from Broads Tours and spend a day cruising around. Lounge around on deck and soak in some sun or see what wildlife you can spot from on board. And don’t forget to moor up at lunch time, and enjoy some pub food in one of The Broads charming villages.
While wild water swimming is an exciting activity, it can also be dangerous if you don’t take the proper safety precautions and you must be a confident and strong swimmer. Open water is usually cold and deep – and can hide some hazards within. Make sure you do your research before attempting wild swimming. We recommend checking out the RNLI safety information, as well as keeping up to date with the tide information in the areas you choose to swim.
To get you started – here are some of our top safety tips.