Devon is home to some spectacular seas, lakes and rivers, all of which make it a haven for those in search of opportunities for wild swimming. The activity has grown in popularity in recent years as more and more discover the numerous health benefits, both physically and mentally, of spending time in natural bodies of water and the effects this can have on well-being. Given the increasingly hectic nature of 21st-century lifestyles, the thought of escaping to a cabin in the middle of nowhere and immersing yourself in a deep body of cold water a million miles away from your responsibilities has never been more appealing. That said, in an area you don’t know very well, it can be difficult to find where the best places to go actually are. For anyone heading to Devon, glamping in one of the many fantastic sites, we’ve put together a list of some of the best places to go wild swimming all over the county so that you can find somewhere close to your chosen abode.
Spitchwick Common, Dartmoor
For those in search of adventure, it doesn’t get much wilder that Dartmoor, and this fantastic corner of the moor has been frequented by both local and visiting wild swimmers for many years. With parking nearby and a grassy patch perfect for drying off, the calming river and surrounding woodland is about as peaceful as it gets in the UK. Keep an eye out for the many variations of bird that use this spot as a hunting ground.
Sugary Cove, Dartmouth
Located just around the corner from Dartmouth castle, the more secluded Sugary Cove is often forgotten by visitors and despite its natural beauty remains relatively quiet, even in peak season. The quiet spot is sheltered and calm, making it suitably safe for ocean swimming, although unlike the more popular beaches, there are no lifeguards, so it is only recommended for confident and experienced swimmers. The scenery that surrounds the cove is second to none and a dip in the sea will allow you to admire the coastline from a completely different perspective.
Salmon Leaps, Teign, Chagford
Just below Castle Drogo, the surrounding woodland shelter a long river pool that’s perfect for wild swimming. The picturesque part of the river is a truly serene setting as you lose yourself to the therapeutic sounds of the cascading waters. The water is fairly shallow, reaching 1.5m at its deepest but the current can be strong, so we don’t recommend this spot for less able swimmers or young children, although if you get there and decide the conditions aren’t quite right, a paddle might just do the trick.
Soar Mill Cove, Salcombe
Seemingly a world away from the more popular resorts in Salcombe, Soar Mill Cove is in fact just around the corner, creating a wonderfully sheltered bay that’s ideal for wild swimming. The steep climb down to the beach only adds to the wild nature of the activity and is well worth the effort when you see the breath-taking beauty of the coastline from the sea. An ideal spot to float, swim or just be, but do keep an eye on the rocks!
A family-favourite holiday resort that can become busy during the summer months, but with three miles of golden sand, there’s more than enough room for everyone! This idyllic beach can get some great surf, ideal for those wishing to try their hand at body surfing and is life-guarded every day for those who are less confident with their swimming abilities. Confident wild swimmers should head down at sun set or sun rise to avoid the crowds and make the most of this truly serene and relaxing setting.
Woody Bay, Martinhoe
Beneath the jaw-dropping cliffs, with drops of 800ft, just east of Martinhoe sits Woody Bay. A favourite with locals wishing to escape the busier sandy beaches nearby, the boulder-strewn beach is a fantastic and safe place for an afternoon dip. Swim out to sea and look back at the beach to admire the coastal scenery in all its glory, including a spectacular waterfall. You might not be the only creature swimming around these parts and curious seals have been known to pop their heads up to see what’s going on.
Broadsands Beach, Combe Martin
Located on the wild North Devon coast you’ll come across one of Exmoor’s best kept secrets. Aptly called ‘Little Thailand’ by locals in reference to the unique tides, the beach here has a steep sandbank, meaning you’ll just need to walk a couple of steps before you find yourself immersed in the refreshing waters. There are caves to explore and rocks to jump off of for those that are so inclined, or just sit back, relax and enjoy the wild and secluded nature of the beach.
A gorgeous woodland area that is renowned for river walks and looked after by the National Trust, the river here has a handful of plunge pools that make for a perfect dip. The ravine is surrounded by overgrown ferns and oaks and even has its own waterfall. It stretches out into pools, meaning that unless conditions are particularly rough, the waters are still and safe. Warm up afterwards with a cream tea at the tearooms nearby – Just remember to put your cream on first!
That concludes our guide to some of the best places for wild swimming in Devon. Whether you’ve been before and are looking for new places to explore or you count yourself as a complete beginner hoping to try something new, Devon is one of the best wild swimming locations in the UK and anyone wishing to spend some time immersed in natural environments should book their glamping holiday straightaway! For more inspiration, check out our Travel Guide: Devon. Do you have a favourite spot to go wild swimming in Devon? Let us and other glampers know via the comments on social media so others can enjoy your favourites!
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