Sun sparkling on deep pools, dappled green leaves overhead – who could resist a refreshing dip in Devon’s beautiful waters?
Devon has some spectacular seas, lakes and rivers, which are perfect for wild swimming. So, we’ve put together 7 of Devon’s best wild swimming locations from all over the county so that you can find somewhere close to your chosen abode.
Broadsands, Combe Martin
Tucked into secluded wooded cliffs, this might be Devon’s most beautiful cove. It is locally revered for its turquoise water, which entices you on the steep 200-step descent to the two shingle beaches below. You’ll find a series of secret caves and an old island, lookout to explore. This spot is known by the locals as ‘Little Thailand.’
Watersmeet is 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 are made for a perfect dip. The ravine is surrounded by overgrown ferns, oaks and even has its own waterfall. It stretches out into pools unless conditions are particularly rough, but otherwise, the waters are still and safe. It’s an otherworldly, implausible spot. So serene that you may hear the plop of a salmon or see an iridescent flash of a dragonfly.
Woody Bay, Exmoor
Hidden among the wild cliffs and peaks of Exmoor’s coast you’ll find a mermaid’s lido. At the far end of Woody’s Bay, a remote shingle beach, the softly undulating rocks dip into a natural tidal pool. It is an epic pool, you can float without a care, and with no one there.
Woolacombe Beach, Woolacombe
Woolacombe is the perfect beach. It’s a three-mile stretch of golden sand and deep blue sea, backed by green hills which are sometimes majestic.
It’s no surprise that TripAdvisor named it as one of the top 20 beaches in the world. Ever since surfboards arrived in the UK, Woolacombe has seamlessly rocked a dual identity. One part is a laidback surfing village, with a buzz, to be found in the dusk waves. The other is a rural hideaway, with miles of quiet coastal paths and endless blue horizons.
Salmon Leaps, Teignbridge
Just below Castle Drogo, the surrounding woodland shelter has 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 stand-up paddleboard might just do the trick.
Sugary Cove, Dartmouth
Despite its natural beauty Sugary Cove is relatively quiet and forgotten by the visitors, even in a peak season. This 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.
Spitchwick Common, Dartmoor
For those in search of an adventure, it doesn’t get much wilder than 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 are about as peaceful as it gets in the UK. Keep an eye out for the many variations of birds within this ecosystem.
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 breathtaking beauty of the coastline from the sea. An ideal spot to float, swim or just be, but do keep an eye on the rocks!
That concludes our suggestions on 7 of Devon’s best wild swimming locations. We hope you like our recommendations. If you have a favourite spot to go wild swimming in Devon, let us and other glampers know by commenting below so others can enjoy your favourite spots!