Swimming in tarns, lakes and rivers is great fun, and a wonderful way to experience the Lake District landscape. However it's important to stay safe.
You can swim in most of the lakes, tarns and rivers in the Lake District. Some lakes are busier than others, here's our guide to where to have an enjoyable and safe dip.
These lakes have no motor boats, but may have rowing boats, canoes and kayaks:
There are also lots of quiet tarns and rivers which can be great places for a dip. Just beware that tarns are generally cooler than lakes, and can be very cold even on a hot summers day!
These lakes all have motor boats, sailing boats and other craft:
In these busier lakes, we recommend picking a swim route along the shoreline, so you're less likely to be in the path of boats and cruisers. Its also important to make yourself as visible as possible. Wear a bright hat, have a tow float and have a support craft like a kayak or paddleboard, to keep safe and enjoy your swimming.
Swimming is not allowed in Ennerdale Water, Haweswater resevoir, Thirlmere resevoir and Kentmere resevoir.
As a general guide if there are more than 50 people in your group you should seek advice from the land owner. Likewise if you intend to bring any infrastructure, like a gazebo.
Take a look at the photos below. If you were steering a boat, which swimmer is easier to spot?
The deep lakes and tarns in the Lake District can be cold, even on a hot summers day. Exposure to cool water can rapidly lead to hypothermia, and the early signs like struggling to move your hands, can make swimming more difficult than normal.
Blue-Green Algae occurs naturally in fresh water lakes, and becomes more likely during periods of warm, dry weather. It can pose a small risk to human health, but can be lethal for dogs if they come into contact with it.
The Enviroment Agency have weekly updates on blue-green algae across the Lake District. But also take notice of any signs warning of blooms at lake shore locations. If you suspect the water has algae, don't swim.
Open water swimming sessions provide instruction and safety support. Also you meet other enthusiasts. Some local suppliers include:
Invasive non-native species of wildlife can hitchhike on equipment, footwear, clothing and boats. You may inadvertently spread the aliens even if you just go for a paddle! Every time you leave any water such as a river, tarn or lake: