Wild Swimming Escapes: Refreshing Lake Dips in Scotland

Wild Swimming Escapes: Refreshing Lake Dips in Scotland

Dipping into Tranquility: A Lily-Padded Haven in Yorkshire

Stepping down into the dark water, surrounded by a sea of lily pads, was both beautiful and a little disconcerting. My nerves were not helped by another swimmer’s comment involving the dreaded word “pike.” Plus, I felt a bit on display as one of the employees at this delightful swim spot was kindly on hand to capture the moment for me.

However, once I was in, it was indeed a wonderful, calm, and tranquil experience. Dipping, rather than swimming, is not something I’m used to, but I can absolutely see why people talk about bathing in settings like this. It felt like something out of Waterlog. Sliding smoothly through the water in this large pond was so refreshing. I could feel it reviving my body and mind immediately.

The surrounding trees and wild gardens added to the freshness, and I breathed in the clean air deeply while drifting on my back. I saw a white tail flick a short distance away through the trees, and realized it was a fallow deer, clearly identifiable by its spots (yes, I watched Bambi when I was a child, and yes, I cried). This was nothing other than wonderful. I love nature, and the summer smell of Yorkshire was both warming and reminiscent of my childhood.

A Stately Swim Spot: Swinton Estate’s Hidden Gem

The setting evokes pictures of stately homes akin to the Lister’s Shibden Hall. The ‘house’ looks like it may have been a filming location (I checked, it wasn’t). The baroness owner can be spotted by visitors walking the estate in wellies with a spade in hand, clearly doing actual manual work. The gardens are truly a sight, both wild and organized at the same time.

The newly opened swimming pond may well be a response to our numbers growing exponentially. The employee I referred to above was excited to escort me to the pond, a short walk through the woods. It boasts a bench, changing facilities, steps down into the water, a metal ground mat to walk on under the water in the shallows, and even a channel cut through the lilies. The latter being paramount to the experience for anyone even remotely squeamish… not me, of course!

This was an unexpected find and one I highly recommend if you fancy or find yourself on the eastern side of the Yorkshire Dales. The 17th-century Swinton Estate is set at the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, a short drive from the quaint market town of Masham (pronounced “Masam”). The numerous activities include a hotel, restaurant, spa, country club, forest bathing, wellness retreats, birds of prey, fishing, mountain biking, and 20,000 acres of stunning gardens, including the lake.

Refreshing Dips and Tranquil Reflections

It is approximately 10 miles and about a 20-minute drive west of the A1(M) on the B6268, at the eastern edge of the Dales, which are of course well worth a visit and hold all manner of dipping delights. Wild swimming in the pond is available to anyone who has access to the grounds: residents, spa day guests, members, diners, and folk who buy a garden pass (annual £50 per person or £5 per adult). Residents and spa day guests get the luxury of having a warm shower in the spa afterwards.

As I drifted on my back, taking in the sights and smells of this serene oasis, I felt a sense of calm wash over me. The surrounding greenery and the gentle lapping of the water were like a soothing balm for the soul. It was a moment of pure tranquility, a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse myself in the beauty of the natural world.

I couldn’t help but wonder how many others had found solace in this hidden gem, dipping their toes or swimming languidly through the lily-speckled waters. The history of the estate, the stories it could tell, only added to the magic of the experience. It was as if I had stumbled upon a secret oasis, a place where time seemed to slow down and the worries of the world melted away.

As I reluctantly dragged myself out of the water, I knew that this was a memory I would cherish. The Swinton Estate’s swimming pond had offered me a refreshing and restorative escape, a chance to truly connect with the natural beauty of the Yorkshire Dales. It’s the kind of place that leaves an indelible mark on your heart, a true wild swimming gem in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.

So, if you find yourself in the area, be sure to make a beeline for the Swinton Estate and its hidden swimming haven. Dip your toes, take a refreshing plunge, and let the tranquility of this lily-padded oasis wash over you. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.

And who knows, you might even spot a fallow deer or two, just like I did. After all, in a place as magical as this, anything seems possible.

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