October 1, 2019

Outdoor Swimming in Cambridgeshire

I’ve recently fallen back in love with swimming; a sport I’ve taken part in competitively since I was just six years old. Over recent years, as I stopped competing and working as a lifeguard, I’ve barely swam but this Summer I rediscovered the joy of swimming and took it to the next level by heading outdoors. As someone who has swam for years inside hot and muggy swimming pools, swimming outdoors has felt like a brand new adventure, so I wanted to share some of my favourite outdoor swimming spots I’ve discovered in Cambridgeshire.

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swimming-milton-country-park
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Jesus Green Lido

The most well-known spot to swim outdoors in Cambridge is the Lido on Jesus Green, located in the centre of the city. It’s the one of the longest lidos in the UK, measuring at a huge 100 yards (or 91.44 metres if you use “new money”). It’s therefore the equivalent of almost four lengths of a standard local swimming pool, which has its pros and cons – each length feels like a lifetime but once complete, you can cover some serious distance! You can swim in either normal swimming gear or a wetsuit and the audience varies from the hard-core swimmers who swim whatever the weather in the morning, to friends and families who gather for swimming and sunbathing with picnics on sunny weekends.

 

Milton Country Park

Milton Country Park is another spot in Cambridge where you can swim outdoors in a structured way. Throughout the Summer, you can swim during set sessions in the lake and also in a number of events which take place. This year, I enjoyed a Moonlight Swim, a nighttime swim lit only by glowsticks, as well as my first Open Water Swimathon. If you’re new to outdoor swimming, Elite Swimming Academy run coached sessions on a Wednesday evening which are the perfect introduction to getting used to open water swimming and the tips and tricks to swim most efficiently in the great outdoors.

You can also try Stand Up Paddleboarding here which is so much fun! I recently tried it for the first time with some fellow Cambridge bloggers and loved it – despite being the only one to fall in! Check out Girl Running Late and Claireabelle Makes’ blog posts on our experience.

 

Grantchester

Most wild swimming guides list Grantchester as one of the most famous places to swim outdoors, as it was a favourite spot of Lord Byron who used to skinny dip here in the moonlight. As a result, it’s a favourite for both swimmers and literary lovers. However, it’s not the cleanest of spots so make sure you take precautions and only swim if you’re confident enough! The Outdoor Swimming Society has some great guidelines of safety whilst wild swimming as part of their Outdoor Swimmers’ Code.

 

Houghton Mill

My latest discovery is Houghton Mill and wow, it is truly a beautiful spot. This National Trust property has acres of stunning fields alongside the winding River Ouse. The water here is much clearer and you can either paddle in front of the Mill or head further afield and find a spot for a river swim. The bank is easy to get in and out of and, as long as you watch out for boats, the river is so peaceful! It’s somewhere I can’t wait to explore more and I’m planning to return as soon as I can.

Of course, in some ways this guide is poorly timed as some of my favourite spots are shortly due to close for the Winter season. However, I’m excited to try some more “wild” swimming at spots like Houghton Mill during the colder months, until the more central swimming spots reopen, and hopefully find some more swimming gems. Have you tried outdoor swimming? Where is your favourite spot for some wild swimming?

 

Want to try wild swimming and not sure where to start? Here are some helpful links:

Outdoor Swimming Society: The best resource for beginners and experts alike, packed full of advice and inspiration

Wild Swim: An interactive crowd-sourced maps of swimming spots across the UK

Norfolk and Suffolk Open Water Swimming: A local outdoor swimming group for those looking to find swimming buddies

Sink or Swim: Get inspired by this celebrity Stand Up To Cancer challenge to swim the channel

The Guardian: Packed full of tips and inspiration for wild swimming in the UK and abroad, as well as some great articles on how outdoor swimming can improve your mental health