Wild Swimming in Scotland

Wild Swimming in Scotland

Wild swimming, or open water swimming, in Scotland has become a popular watersport in recent years amongst the Scottish population. 

There is nothing quite like dipping into a clear, steady loch, whilst surrounded by Scotland’s most beautiful backdrops. The vibrant colours and clearness of the waters may seem attractive, but the temperatures are often very low. 

Although it may take a while to brave the cold, after the first dip, it is said that open water swimming in Scotland is a spectacular, energising and invigorating activity that has a number of impressive health benefits. 

So why not, treat yourself to a retreat at one of our luxurious hotels & inns, go wild swimming Scotland to boost your circulation, improve your immunity and release a rush of endorphins, with an out-of-this-world therapeutic experience. 

With the rising popularity, people from all over the country are seeking new secluded and peaceful locations, as the best wild swimming Scotland spots are swarmed by eager individuals. 

This is why we have created a guide on how and where to find both the most popular, and the most secluded, Scotland wild swimming spots, wherever you are in the country.

 

Wild Swimming Safety

Although it may seem tempting to deep dive into the colourful waters, safety always comes first. Wild swimmers are asked not to go out alone and to stay close to shore, whenever possible. It is recommended to walk in slowly to reduce any chance of shock, wear brightly coloured swimming costumes, caps, or tow floats so you are easily visible to passing boaters, and to never swim under the influence of alcohol. 

Read the full list of swimming safety tips here. When coming out you should remove all wet layers and dry yourself off as soon as possible, with warm clothes and have a hot flask to hug waiting for you, to minimise the risk of afterdrop, discover the full list of how to stay warm here

Please see the full list of useful health and safety websites and information at the bottom of this page. 

 

Overlooking Loch Ness Sunset, from Dores Beach

Wild Swimming Inverness & The Highlands

The Scottish Highlands is one of the most picturesque locations in the world, and is usually what people imagine when they think of Scotland. 

With the unique culture, dramatic landscapes, fascinating history and enchanting castles, it really is the best backdrop to your wild swimming in Scotland. With options to explore the spectacular things to do in Cairngorms, including seeking the Balmoral Pyramids, or strolling along the gorgeous walks and beaches on the North-East coast, it truly is a magical part of Scotland. 

From our Big Sand Beach in Gairloch, sheltered from onshore wind, with breath-taking views of Skye and Torridon, to chancing a swim with Nessie at Dores Beach which has the best viewpoints of Loch Ness. There will be somewhere spectacular for you to experience wild swimming in the Highlands. 

Dores Beach

Area: Dores, Highland

Postcode: IV2 6TR

Distance from Inverness: 9 miles

Parking: Free parking is available in the nearby village

 

Rosemarkie Beach

Area: Fortrose, Highland

Postcode: IV10 8UW

Distance from Inverness: 15 miles

Parking: Public car park nearby

 

Nairn Beach (East)

Area: Nairn

Postcode: IV36 2TE

Distance from Inverness: 17 miles

Parking: Located next to a large public car park

 

Findhorn Beach

Area: Forres

Postcode: IV36 3YT 

Distance from Inverness: 31 miles

Parking: Parking area available near the marina

 

Loch Morlich

Area: Badenoch and Strathspey, Highland

Postcode: PH22 1QU

Distance from Inverness: 40 miles

Parking: Public car park next to loch

 

Lossiemouth (East) Beach

Area: Lossiemouth 

Postcode: IV31 6JJ

Distance from Inverness: 42 miles

Parking: Public car park next to the beach

 

Big Sand Beach, Gairloch

Area: Uig

Postcode: IV21 2DL

Distance from Inverness: 74 miles

Parking: Public car park next to the beach

 

Sand beach at the east end of Aberdeen Beach

Wild Swimming Aberdeen

Whether it’s a family day trip to the Beach Boulevard just outside the centre of Aberdeen, or an adventurous swim through the cracks of a collapsed cave at Hell’s Lum over Cullykhan Bay, Aberdeenshire is rich with unique rural locations, and beaches to go open water swimming. 

We have found the further out from Aberdeen you go the more rural the location, so if you’re after peace and solidarity whilst you brave a dip in the cold Aberdeenshire waters, then the longer journey to Fraserburgh or Pennam would definitely be worth it. 

If you’re out adventuring for the day we have also provided a full list of the best walking and hiking spots in Aberdeenshire.

Aberdeen Beach

Area: Aberdeen

Postcode: AB24 5HN

Distance from Aberdeen: 1 mile

Parking: Various public car parks scattered across city

 

Balmedie Beach

Area: Aberdeen

Postcode: AB23 8XG

Distance from Aberdeen: 8 miles

Parking: Car park, with public toilets, around a 15 minute walk from beach

 

Stonehaven Beach

Area: Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Postcode: AB39 2BU

Distance from Aberdeen: 16 miles

Parking: Public parking available at Market Square Car Park, very close to beach

 

Cruden Bay

Area: Peterhead

Postcode: AB42 0QH

Distance from Aberdeen: 25 miles

Parking: Public car park next to the beach

 

Peterhead Lido Beach

Area: Peterhead

Postcode: AB42 2UP

Distance from Aberdeen: 30 miles

Parking: Public car park available around 5 minute walk from the beach

 

Rosehearty Beach

Area: Rosehearty, Fraserburgh 

Postcode: AB43 7JB

Distance from Aberdeen: 43 miles

Parking: Public car park next to the beach

 

Hell’s Lum

Area: Cullykhan Fort, Pennam

Postcode:

Distance from Aberdeen: 44 miles

Parking: Public car next to Cullykhan Bay

 

Portobello Beach, in Edinburgh on a busy Summers day

Wild Swimming Edinburgh

Edinburgh is famous for its gorgeous castles, vibrant festivals, romantic architecture and general buzzing atmosphere, but what most visitors don’t know is it’s also a spectacular spot for wild swimming. All within a 30 minute journey by car or bike, you could glide along the colourful waters of the east coast. 

There are two main areas to wild swim in Edinburgh. One being the coastal beaches; Wardie Bay and Portobello Beach, where it would be a very rare sight to not see them swarmed with excited locals during the warmer months, the second being a series of reservoirs which have beautiful backdrops overlooking the capital and surrounding areas. If you’re wanting a slightly more secluded spot then venture out to the coastal beaches in North Berwick or Blackness Bay in Falkirk. 

Portobello Beach

Area: Portobello, Edinburgh

Postcode: EH15 1DU 

Distance from Edinburgh: 3 miles

Parking: Public car park next to the beach

 

Wardie Bay

Area: Edinburgh

Postcode: EH5 1ER

Distance from Edinburgh: 4 miles

Parking: Public car park at Silverknowes Beach East, short distance from the bay

 

 

Harperrig Reservoir

Area: Kirknewton 

Postcode: EH27 8DH

Distance from Edinburgh: 4 miles

Parking: Public car park at Harperrig Fishery

 

Blackness Bay

Area: Falkirk

Postcode:  EH49 7NQ

Distance from Edinburgh: 16 miles

Parking: Public car park and street parking available next to the beach

 

Pettycur Beach

Area: Burntisland

Postcode: KY3 9SB

Distance from Edinburgh: 24 miles

Parking: Ample parking available adjacent to the beach

 

Yellowcraig Beach

Area: North Berwick

Postcode: EH39

Distance from Edinburgh: 23 miles

Parking: Public car park next to the beach

 

Seacliff

Area: North Berwick 

Postcode: EH39 5PP

Distance from Edinburgh: 30 miles

Parking: Private car park accessible through small car parking fee. The barrier to the car park is coin-operated.

 

Loch Lomond in Scotland

Wild Swimming Glasgow

Escape the hustle and bustle of Scotland’s largest city, to these stunning, secluded loch side locations for your wild swimming Glasgow. Glasgow is surrounded with a stunning array of clear, calming, freshwater lochs with breath-taking views, the ultimate backdrop for wild swimming. 

Whether it’s gliding through the vibrant waters of Loch Lomond at Milarrochy Bay or taking a dip with Largs’ picturesque Pencil Monument in the background, there will be a special place for you. During the summer months, Glaswegians go to any lengths to find a sunny spot so it would be rare to find these quiet. 

Loch Lomond

Duncan Mills Memorial Slipway

Area: Balloch, Loch Lomond

Postcode: G83 8QX

Distance from Glasgow: 19 miles

Parking: Large free car park directly next to wild swimming spot

 

Milarrochy Bay

Area: Balmaha, Loch Lomond

Postcode: G63 0AL

Distance from Glasgow: 28 miles

Parking: Large car park, with public toilets, available in Balmaha, beautiful walk along the West Highland Way alongside Loch Lomond towards the bay

 

Luss Beach

Area: Luss, Loch Lomond

Postcode: G83 8PA 

Distance from Glasgow: 32 miles

Parking: Public car parking available at Luss South car park

 

Lunderston bay

Area: Gourock, Inverclyde

Postcode: PA19 1BB

Distance from Glasgow: 30 miles

Parking: Free large car park next to the beach

 

Largs (Pencil Beach)

Area: Largs

Postcode: KA30 8JZ

Distance from Glasgow: 31 miles

Parking: Parking available at Largs marina

 

Irvine Beach

Area: Irvine

Postcode: KA12 8FA

Distance from Glasgow: 32 miles

Parking: Free large car park next to the beach

 

Prestwick Beach

Area: Prestwick

Postcode: KA9 1QN

Distance from Glasgow: 33 miles

Parking:  Public car park in Prestwick centre, 6 minute walk from beach

 

Seamill Beach

Area: Seamill, West Kilbride

Postcode: KA23 9ND

Distance from Glasgow: 33 miles

Parking: Car park, with direct access to the beach, can be found at the end of Hyndman Road in Seamill

 

Troon South Beach

Area: Troon

Postcode: KA10 6EH

Distance from Glasgow: 33 miles

Parking: Parking, with toilets can be found near the Council offices on South Beach Road

 

Wild swimming in Luss, Stirlingshire

Wild Swimming Stirling & Trossachs

With just a short journey from Stirling, Trossachs National Park in Stirlingshire holds some of the most picturesque backdrops in the world, surrounded by spectacular mountains and munros, the tranquil beauty of the lochs are truly irresistible. 

The still lochs are perfect places for children to paddle, adults to wild swim and the pebbly shore is the ideal setting for a light picnic. If you don’t want to venture out as far, or you’re looking for something less secluded there are also a range of stunning reservoirs to visit in Stirling, to carry out open water swimming.

Cocksburn Reservoir

Area: Stirling

Postcode: FK9 4LX

Distance from Stirling: 4 miles

Parking: Park at Pendreich Car Park, around a 2 mile nature walk to Cockburn Reservoir

 

North Third Reservoir

Area: Stirling

Postcode: FK7 9PZ

Distance from Stirling: 4 miles

Parking: Parking at North Third Reservoir car park, around an 8 minute walk from swimming spot

 

Carron Valley Reservoir

Area: Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire

Postcode: FK6 5JL

Distance from Stirling: 9 miles

Parking: Main Car Park available at Denny FK6 5JL, around a 36 minute walk along the reservoir away

 

Fannyside Loch

Area: Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire

Postcode: FK1 3DY

Distance from Stirling: 15 miles

Parking: Ample road parking available

 

Lake Of Menteith

Area: Menteith

Postcode: FK8 3RD

Distance from Stirling: 16 miles

Parking: Public car park available, 4 minute walk from beach

 

Trossachs National Park

Loch Lubnaig

Area: Callander, Trossachs

Postcode: FK17 8HF

Distance from Stirling: 22 miles

Parking: The Cabin at Loch Lubnaig is in the North Car Park, with take-away food and drink, with toilets is open 8.30 am-5.00pm

 

Loch Ard

Area: Trossachs

Postcode: FK8 3TF 

Distance from Stirling: 25 miles

Parking: Available at Loch Ard Forest Car Park, at the start of an 1.5-2 hour long forest walking route, that will pass the loch

 

Loch Voil

Area: Lochearnhead, Trossachs

Coordinates: 56.3469° N, 4.4264° W

Distance from Stirling: 31 miles

Parking: Around a 35 minute walk from the loch there is the Monachyle Mhor Hotel, Balquhidder, FK19 8PQ, where you can park and get refreshments

 

View across Loch Fyne from view of Inverary Scotland

Wild Swimming Oban

From gliding through the clear waters at Ganavan Sands, a gorgeous white sand beach, to dipping into the vibrant waters of Loch Fyne, with dramatic Scottish landscapes as a backdrop, the little seaside town of Oban is the perfect destination if you’re seeking tranquillity or adventure. 

With ease of access to nearby islands, and beaches, there are endless opportunities to explore Scotland in all its glory and wild swim in Scotland. Take an island day trip, get involved in whale watching and explore the enchanting waterfalls on the Isle of Mull, whilst you’re out seeking the perfect tranquilising wild swim. Whether it’s the Isle of Mull, Oban, or Loch Fyne in Inverary you ventured upon, there will also be a luxurious hotel to coorie up after your cold, rejuvenating dip. 

Ganavan Sands

Area: Oban 

Postcode: PA34 5TB

Distance from Oban: 8 miles

Parking: Easy access ample roadside parking nearby

 

Loch Awe

Area: Argyll & Bute

Postcode: PA26 8BJ

Distance from Oban: 35 miles

Parking: Free large car park next to loch 

 

Carsaig Bay

Area: Isle of Mull

Postcode: PA31 8PN

Distance from Oban: 35 miles

Parking: There are 4 or 5 parking spaces available at Carsaig Arches

 

Fidden Beach

Area: Ross of Mull

Postcode: PA66 6BN

Distance from Oban: 47 miles

Parking:  Free large car park next to loch 

 

Glen Fyne

Area: Loch Fyne

Postcode: PA26 8BJ

Distance from Oban: 48 miles

Parking: Car park at Loch Fyne Oyster bar, here there will be a track to a beautiful loch side loch that will take you to the glen

 

National Nature Reserve, Loch Leven, viewed at Burleigh Sands overlooking Kinnesswood and Munduff Hill.

Wild Swimming Perthshire

Located in the heart of Scotland, Perthshire is home to a gorgeous palace, ancient residence of Scottish monarchs and is easily accessible from all major cities. The intimate city is surrounded with natural beauty. From munros, waterfalls, forests, and gardens, to glens, moors and rivers where you can carry out your wild swimming, surrounded by picturesque landscapes. 

Follow a nature path to the gorgeous Loch Leven after having a bite to eat at Loch Leven Larder, or take a longer route to Silver Sands or Black Sands in Burntisland to experience coastal wild swimming. Most locations will be quiet, secluded and peaceful. 

Loch Leven

Area: Kinross

Postcode: KY13 9EZ 

Distance from Perth: 18 miles

Parking: Free public car park available at Loch Leven Larder, which bring you round a 2.5km nature loop, passing the loch

 

Castlehill Reservoir

Area: Glendevon, Dollar

Postcode: FK14 7JX 

Distance from Perth: 24 miles

Parking: large parking layby beside the Castlehill reservoir on the A823

 

Leven Beach

Area: Leven, Fife

Postcode: KY8 4HY

Distance from Perth: 29 miles

Parking: Free large car park next to beach

 

Black Sands

Area: Aberdour, Burntisland 

Postcode: KY3 0TU

Distance from Perth: 31 miles

Parking: Free large car park, with public toilets, available next to beach

 

Silver Sands Beach

Area: Aberdour, Burntisland 

Postcode: KY3 0RQ

Distance from Perth: 32 miles

Parking: Free large car park next to beach

 

Harbour Beach Kinghorn

Area: Kinghorn, Fife

Postcode: KY3 9SX

Distance from Perth: 37 miles

Parking: Free large car park next to beach

 

West Sands Beach, St Andrews by the Old Course.

Wild Swimming Dundee

The Tayside city is a vibrant and compact city that is slowly becoming a modern wonder. With plenty of science museums, historic ships, theatres, art centres and quirky bars, it is the ideal location to stay. Dundee is labelled Scotland’s sunniest city, so makes for the ideal location to ease yourself into the cold Scottish waters to wild swim. 

With many gorgeous beaches, all within a 30 minute drive, you will never run out of options to glide through the gorgeous Scottish waters with beautiful backdrops. From the popular Broughty Ferry beach, East Sands Beach in St Andrews, the ideal setting to watch the sunrise, to Elie Harbour & Earlsferry for a more secluded location, there will be something for everyone. 

Broughty Ferry Beach

Area: Broughty Ferry, Dundee

Postcode: DD5 2EN

Distance from Dundee: 4 miles

Parking: Free large car park next to beach

 

Tentsmuir Sands

Area: Tentsmuir

Postcode: KY16 0DR

Distance from Dundee: 11 miles

Parking: Available at Tentsmuir Forest car park, near beach

 

Carnoustie Beach

Area: Carnoustie

Postcode: DD7 6AR

Distance from Dundee: 12 miles 

Parking: Paid high street parking available near beach

 

West Sands Beach

Area: St Andrews

Postcode: DD11 1QJ

Distance from Dundee: 14 miles

Parking: Free large car park next to beach

 

East Sands Beach

Area: St Andrews

Postcode: DD11 1QJ

Distance from Dundee: 14 miles

Parking: Free large car park next to beach

 

West Links Beach

Area: Arbroath

Postcode: DD11 1QJ

Distance from Dundee: 16 miles

Parking: Available at the Arbroath end of the beach

 

Billow Ness

Area: Anstruther

Postcode: KY10 3DA

Distance from Dundee: 23 miles

Parking: Free parking and toilet facilities nearby

 

Elie Harbour & Earlsferry

Area: Earlsferry

Postcode: KY9 1EG

Distance from Dundee: 24 miles

Parking: Available next to the beach, off South Street

 

Seafield Beach

Area: Kirkcaldy 

Postcode: KY1 1SJ

Distance from Dundee: 32 miles

Parking: Free large car park next to beach

 

Explore Crerar Hotels & Inns for a luxurious escape, whilst exploring the best wild swimming Scotland has to offer.

Whether it’s a rural escape to the Highlands or a romantic retreat to a peaceful seaside town, explore our gorgeous Scotland hotels and inns, located in some of the most stunning locations, with gorgeous lochs and picturesque backdrops, all across Scotland in the UK. Explore some of the best minibreaks and staycations in Scotland and book today to start your adventure. 

 

Useful information on the health & safety of Wild Swimming Scotland

To see safety information on wild swimming in reservoirs and wild swimming in rivers, click here.

To see safety information on rip currents when wild swimming in the sea click here.

To see information on water quality click here.

If you are interested in getting started from The Outdoor Swimming Society, then click here.

 

Reference information for this article and special thank you

This article wouldn’t be possible without the Scottish wild swimming locations map created by Gilian Fyfe. Gilian is currently undertaking an impressive ice swimming challenge in aid of the Islay Dog Rescue, please consider donating to her Jedi Polar Bear Challenge through her Go Fund Me page here.

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