The best wild swimming spots in Kent where you can cool off in the heat
With temperatures reaching 30C in parts of Kent today (June 25), who wouldn’t want to jump in the water to cool down? Luckily for us, we have a wide range of hidden gems across the county.
The idea of going to packed-out beaches and popular seaside towns can be anything but relaxing. And now that we have entered the summer season, it is set to get even busier over the next couple of months.
That said, there is nothing better than swimming outdoors in the natural environment. But remember to always follow the safety guidance, which we have detailed below.
READ MORE: Kent’s stunning and unspoiled ‘gem of a bay’ which is the ‘go-to getaway’
Here’s our guide to some of the hidden gems in and around Kent that could help bring the mercury in your internal thermometer back down a bit.
Swimmers can enjoy the clean water at Holborough Lakes where they have a 400m swim circuit and water temperatures have been known to be up to 23C. All swimmers must first complete an induction with one of the staff members, which also includes a 200m swim.
They have coaches who are available to book for group sessions or one-to-one coaching, and their Wednesday night swim club is a great place to meet like-minded swimmers, new friends, and get a few free hints and tips. All levels of swimmers are welcome – triathletes, channel swimmers, and those that like a leisurely dip – and it’s always a very friendly atmosphere.
Where: near Whitstable
This rural Blue Flag shingle beach is backed by steep, grassy slopes. According to regulars, this is a beach for serious swimming as well as relaxing. And in the summer, there is a small swimming area that has lifeguards.
There are several markers along the beach (red metal “baskets” on poles), as well as buildings and landmarks that are used as turning points. The distance you swim can be set from these marks, so the only limits here are your own.
Swimmers can enter from a mooring platform between benches and the Fordwich Arms pub. Swimming in rivers is not recommended for those who are inexperienced or for children, but strong swimmers will be able to go upstream under the bridge and a little way up before floating back down.
The water is lovely and clear and, with goggles, swimmers will be able to see several different kinds of fish in the river. Currents can vary, surfaces are often rocky and slippery, and rivers are not monitored by lifeguards.
St Margaret’s Bay
Where: near Dover
St Margaret’s developed as a holiday resort in late Victorian times when it was seen as a place to retreat for the rich and famous. During the war, the local people were evacuated and the area was occupied by the troops. It became known as ‘Hell Fire Corner’ because of the continual bombardment.
The little cove of St Margaret’s Bay is well off the beaten track, down a very narrow, windy road. And in the shadow of the huge chalk cliffs on a balmy summer evening, there is nothing better than hobbling across the tumbled flint pebbles and swimming out into the English Channel to look back at the lights coming on in the houses along the cliff.
This stunning lake boasts an impressive 1,000m loop, as well as smaller circuit options. This is the perfect lake for any budding open water swimmer or triathlete.
You will need a TriSwim annual membership to swim at Chipstead Lake. Please note that an additional small charge will be added to memberships and assessments bought directly at the lake by card.
Upon your first visit, TriSwim will require every swimmer to undertake a short assessment with a coach which will cover the basics of open water safety, sighting the designated swimming buoys, and a 400m swim with a safety kayak. This is due to the sheer size and depth of Chipstead Sailing Lake, and to ensure all swimmers are safe.
TriSwim actively encourages families and beginner swimmers to join them in this lake, as it has a shallow and shielded bay, and the water visibility and quality is the best in the area.
Perfect for a spot of family fun, this sandy beach has lots to offer. With part of the sea walled off into a paddling pool, even smaller children can enjoy a wild splash around.
Meanwhile, adults can enjoy a swim out to sea. During peak months, the bay is patrolled by lifeguards, so this is a safe place to swim. Just watch out for windsurfers.
Set in Haysden Country Park, this beautiful lake is surrounded by woodland with a loop of 600m and 900m that is perfect for distance swimming, technique improvements, and fitness. You will need a TriSwim annual membership to swim at Haysden Lake.
Please note that an additional small charge will be added to memberships and swim assessments that are purchased at the lake by card. Upon your first visit, TriSwim will require every swimmer to undertake a short assessment with a coach which will cover the basics of open water safety, sighting the designated swimming buoys, and a 400m swim with a safety kayak. This is due to the sheer size and depth of Haysden Lake, and to ensure all swimmers are safe.
This is a top destination in Kent for open water swimmers. You can even go scuba diving, kayaking, and wind surfing here. All swimmers must first pass an induction before they can swim in the lake though, which is usually very deep and cold.
In warmer weather, the waters have been known to reach balmy temperatures of 21C. Once you’re inducted, you’ll enjoy an invigorating swim surrounded by Green Flag, award-winning Leybourne Lakes Country Park. You’ll see plenty of birdlife and dragonflies skimming the surface of the water.
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