Wild swimming in Yorkshire: Best wild swimming spots in Leeds, York, Sheffield, the Yorkshire Dales, Huddersfield, Skipton and Knaresborough

There are lots of places in Yorkshire to go wild swimming and now that the summer season is approaching, these areas will become more popular with swimmers.

Open water swimming, also known as wild swimming, is a sport which takes place in outdoor bodies of water including oceans, lakes and rivers. The activity has grown in popularity in recent years, particularly since the ease of Covid-19 lockdowns in 2021.

From the wild landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales to the beautiful lakes in York, Yorkshire is filled with some of the best swimming spots. If you are feeling adventurous, you can take a plunge in a freezing pool or ride down some of the rapids in the region.

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There are picturesque waterfalls, gills and swimming rivers in the Yorkshire Dales where you can spend your time taking a safe dip.

Stainforth Force. (Pic credit: Tony Johnson)Stainforth Force. (Pic credit: Tony Johnson)
Stainforth Force. (Pic credit: Tony Johnson)

Best wild swimming spots in Yorkshire

Rivelin Plunge Pool, Sheffield

Rivelin Valley is just a short walk from the Packhorse Bridge which crosses over the River Rivelin.

The outdoor pool provides the ideal break after a run along the valley path. It also offers an adventurous awakening on a cold morning for thrill seekers.

Knaresborough Lido

This outdoor swimming pool is located on the River Nidd and is near to towns Harrogate and Wetherby.

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Whilst people do swim here, swimmers should be alert and always err on the side of caution, especially if you are new to open water swimming.

Leeds Dock

When done safely, open water swimming is proven to improve mental health and release endorphins that make you happy.

The Leeds Dock is a permanent fixture for wild swimmers and is organised by Love Open Water and National Open Water Coaching Association (NOWCA).

It is open every Wednesday from 6pm to 8pm, Friday from 10am to 12.30pm and Saturday from 9am to 11.30am.

Hell’s Cauldron, Yorkshire Dales

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You are only permitted to enter Hell’s Cauldron in sustained dry weather; the Peril pool can rise fast and the caves can flood.

Hell’s Cauldron has a waterfall and a deep pool in a narrow slot canyon and swimmers can explore the whole gorge.

Kisdon Force, Swaledale

This is made up of two incredible waterfall or gorge deep in a woody gorge; one is five metres high with a 50 metre wide plunge pool, deep, dark and perfect for thrill seekers.

Bolton Abbey, Skipton

Situated next to the historic and stunning ruins of Bolton Abbey and wild swimmers can swim along the River Wharfe - a popular spot.

Stainforth Force, Ribblesdale

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Stainforth has a deep pool for expert wild swimmers to take a brave plunge.

There are also a series of pools and waterfalls along the River Ribble at this popular Yorkshire Dales wild swimming spot.

Sparth Reservoir, Huddersfield

This is a small pond and was used by the local authority in the 1960s and 1970s to teach children to swim.

It is located at the northern end of the Peak District and is not very deep so is very suitable for beginner wild swimmers as well as children.

Hardraw Force, Yorkshire Dales

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This is considered England’s highest unbroken waterfall and the land is owned by the Green Dragon Pub.

You can swim where Robin Hood bathed in the film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; be warned that the water is cold and there are stones which can also fall down with the water.

Pool Bridge Farm, York

The stunning lakes opened in early 2022 for wild/open-water swimming and it has been a very popular location ever since.

A new lakeside sauna was introduced recently and Pool Bridge Farm is also the perfect place to escape your everyday stresses.

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Swimming facilities include a sauna, hot showers, toilets and an open changing room, there is also an on-site cafe open from Thursday to Sunday.


The River Wharfe passes closely with the village and is a popular spot for wild swimming.

There is a beautiful rocky pool in the river with a small island and bay as well as rapids upstream with a rope swing, grassy banks and field for picnics.

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