Absolutely everything that a Bristol student needs to know before going wild swimming
Shake off that exam season funk with a relaxing dip into some fresh water
As temperatures in Bristol begin to rise and exam stress gradually starts to cool off, wild swimming is the perfect, low-budget excuse to dust off that swimming costume from the darkest depths of your wardrobe, gather your mates and get the blood flowing.
Our ultimate guide will take you through the most ideal lidos, beaches, and rivers local to the Bristol area, as well as the best tips and tricks to keep the chills at bay; trust us you’ll need them!
So put on those goggles, grab your warmest towel, and prepare to dip into the cool waters that the glorious Celtic Sea and River Avon have to offer.
1. Clevedon Marine Lake
A quick hop, skip and a jump from the centre of Bristol (or a 35-minute car journey) will land you in the quaint seaside town of Clevedon, home to a 15,000 square metre tidal pool, overlooking the Bristol Channel.
One popular feature is the jetty located in the middle of the pool, which provides the perfect opportunity to embrace your inner Tom Daley if you’re feeling bold enough to do some backflips (or bellyflops).
There is a pub just a two-minute walk from the marine lake that can’t go unnoticed, so if you fancy treating yourself to some pub scran or a hearty pint after your swim – The Salthouse is the place to be.
If you can’t access a car, fear not- get yourself down to Bristol Bus and Coach station and hop on the X7 heading to Salthouse Fields. The journey may seem long at just over an hour, but trust us, think of how popping your Instagram will be and how jealous you’ll make any non-Bristol residents with unreal sunset pics.
For the adrenaline junkies out there, Beeses is perfect for you. The cold waters of the fresh river are guaranteed to send that shiver down your spine and give you the ultimate brain freeze.
Located just outside the bustle of the City Centre in Broomhill, Beeses really is a gift from mother nature with the endless surrounding fields and lush greenery it situates itself in. If you fancy a scenic drive through the suburbs of Bristol with an even more scenic destination, get yourself down to Beeses.
A quick 20-minute bike or car ride from the city centre and you’ll find yourself there or jump on the 1 bus to Broomhill and get off at Fermaine Avenue, followed by a short walk.
If you’re ever bored out of your mind working in the ASS and are craving to touch some grass, Beeses is the closest destination to the university; so, rally those troops and head on down.
3. Saltford River
If a stroll before your swim sounds like a bit of you, the journey across the railway bridge that overlooks the waters makes the trek to Saltford River all the more worthwhile.
Located halfway between Bath and Bristol, Saltford can be used as a meeting place for any mates you may have at the neighbouring uni. A 22-minute drive from Bristol and a 13-minute drive from Bath city centre, Saltford is a great excuse to reunite with those friends you’ve been meaning to meet for a while.
Or, if you’re going with fellow Bristolians, the X39 Aquae from Bristol Bus and Coach Station to Tyning Road will be your best friend.
Our guide wouldn’t be the ultimate guide if we included perfect swim spots without a pub in walking distance, and the lush beer garden at the Bird in Hand won’t let you down. We recommend going on a Sunday if you have any left-over student loans to splurge on their roast dinners- they’ll give your Granny a run for her money.
4. Warleigh Weir
Exam season has driven all of us slightly mad so if you have cabin fever from being in Bristol for too long, the venture to Warleigh Weir on the other side of Bath is the ideal remedy.
A favourite amongst university students, a trip to Warleigh Weir is a classic destination surrounded by the beauty of the British countryside. No pubs are within walking distance, so if you’re craving a drink, bring your own booze, but don’t drink and swim!
If you can nab a seat in a car, that is ideal for Warleigh Weir, given it is a 37-minute car journey from the city centre of Bristol. Or the X39 bus to Bath from Bristol Bus and Coach Station followed by the D1 from Bath Bus Station to the weir should take a hefty hour and a half.
Don’t let this stop you from keeping the weir in as an option, it’s a hidden gem that will ensure a grand old time, no matter the weather!
The Ultimate Do’s & Dont’s of Wild Swimming
1. Pack the warmest clothes you possibly can
Hoodies, trackies, fluffy socks- bring them all. Even though temperatures in Bristol are rising every day, the water is colder than the walk from Lakota to Queens Avenue in December.
2. Bring a flask of hot tea/coffee
It’s no secret that we Bristol students are partial to an iced latte with oat milk from the Source Café, but leave old habits aside and take a flask of something hot; your future self will love you.
3. Join the Univerity of Bristol Wild Swimming Facebook page
Stay updated with the organised swims that meet weekly at one of the spots that we’ve provided in our guide. If you’re struggling to hitch a lift, the page will also provide the chance to secure a seat in a fellow swimmer’s car. Embrace your inner passenger princess!
4. Take a spare pair of pants/ socks
May sound obvious, but the pain of forgetting these and having a soggy bottom for the rest of the day can potentially ruin the entire experience.
1. Wear a wetsuit
The cold-water element of wild swimming has countless health benefits, including improved circulation, a release of endorphins and increased libido (oh yeah), so scratch that wetsuit or else you won’t feel the benefits! Plus, you’ll look like a bit of a knob.
2. Go alone
Like any activity involving unpredictable water, go with a group. Wild swimming spots near Bristol almost never have lifeguards and it would be a little bit tragic if something happened. Look after each other, stay safe and have fun!
3. Dabble in substance abuse
Given we’re dealing with Bristol Uni students here, it is necessary to mention wild swimming may not be the smartest idea if you’re on the bag five nights a week; your heart may not be able to hack it!
5. Disturb the locals
Bear in mind that wild swimming is popular amongst all groups of people and the best spots are in quiet villages, so, if you’re planning on bringing a speaker and playing some dutty D’n’B at full blast, you might not be welcomed back.