On a hot day, there is nothing better than jumping into some cold water to cool off. For some of us visiting Devon, we’ll be lucky enough to be staying somewhere near a beach where we can get in some paddling or swimming or at a property with a pool, but if you don’t have either of those of things at your disposal, or you don’t fancy battling the crowds at your nearest beach, why not give wild swimming a go?
Wild Swimming is a popular activity throughout the county and with so many places where you can swim to your heart’s content, it’s a lovely way to see more of the region while also staying cool. Here are a couple of our favourite wild swimming spots in Devon – if you are planning to check any of these out, be aware that these are areas of natural water and won’t be monitored by life guards – we would recommend always taking someone with you and letting others know where you have gone in case you get into trouble. Please also make sure to wear a life jacket if you have one and to only attempt areas that are less populated or with stronger currents if you are a confident swimmer. With that in mind, here are the spots we recommend.
River Otter, Ottery St Mary
This is a great one for anyone who is new to wild swimming or those wanting to spend a day out with the family. Head to Ottery St Mary and you’ll find that there is easy access to the river via a lovely field which is popular for sunbathing and picnics. For swimming, there is a calm area of water near Fluxton Weir where there is also a rope swing and a natural jacuzzi – perfect for easing those stresses and chilling out when its warm.
The Hindu Temples, The English Riviera
Ok, they sound much more exotic than they actually are, these are just a couple of sandstone caves located between Torquay and Paignton and were hugely popular back when the English Riviera first became a holiday destination. They aren’t as frequented these days, mostly because you need to be a fairly strong swimmer to explore them. The name comes from the book The Water Babies, written by Charles Kingsley, an author from Bideford. He described the caves as being like Hindu Temples, hence the name!
Sharrah Pool, Spitchwick Common, Dartmoor
Dartmoor has loads of lovely places for wild swimming but this is one of the most popular and offers some lovely picnic spots as well as a chance to get into the water. Because it is popular, it can be crowded but it is easy to get to and there are several spots that are good for swimming. Sharrah Pool is probably the best bit for swimming in, but the river runs all through this area, so you can easily enjoy a paddle or two. Just be aware that there are some deep channels.
Long Pool, Watersmeet, Exmoor
In our other National Park is this picturesque spot near the National Trust tea rooms for the Watersmeet area. Watersmeet itself has some lovely pools to explore, but if you follow the River Lyn a little downstream, you’ll come to Long Pool which is shaded, has some pretty scenery and is a great place for spotting some of the local wildlife.
Sugary Cove, Kingswear
Near Kingswear you’ll find this quiet and remote beach at the mouth of the River Dart. It’s not far from Dartmouth Castle and is dog friendly if your furry friends also need to cool off. Strong swimmers who fancy a challenge might want to attempt the rocky channel through to Castle Cove next door, but you will have to wait until just before high tide to do it.
Denham Bridge, Yelverton
If you are on the hunt for some warmer water, head to Denham Bridge near Yelverton. The bridge overlooks a lovely pebble beach and a pool that comes off the River Tavy. Because it faces south west, during the summer months, the water is naturally warmed by the sun and there is a nice pebble beach to lounge on too. Just be wary of jumping into the pool, it is deep and also narrow.
River Teign, Chagford
There are loads of places along the River Teign for a swim but one of our best loved spots is between Chagford and Steps Bridge where there are a series of weir pools. The whole riverside walk between the two is also beautiful and as it is quiet, you’ll often manage to spot a salmon or two jumping as well as other wildlife.
These are just a couple of the wild swimming opportunities available in Devon – you’ll find plenty more and a whole community of people here that also love exploring the county via its waterways. Just remember, as fun as it might be to leap into water on a hot day, safety first. As we said, these spots are not monitored by life guards, so do not attempt to go swimming alone. Even confident swimmers should be aware that these spots can be unpredictable and you will find rocks and other submerged objects that may be hard to see from the surface as well as areas of fast flowing water and changes in water temperature.