There’s fabulous frolicking to be had in the water on Norfolk’s 90 miles of coast but on a hot summer’s day, what could be more refreshing than slipping into the cool, clear waters of a secret stretch of water?
No waves, no chlorinated water of the local swimming pool, and it’s great for your physical and mental well-being.
Please follow our safety instructions at the end of this blog, try to use sustainable transport to visit them and be considerate to local residents, particularly if you are parking.
Here’s our top spots…
Geldeston Lock, River Waveney
Recommended by Lonely Planet as one of the best wild swims in the UK and a favourite spot of Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey Through Britain author Roger Deakin, the River Waveney flows languorously through water meadows towards a deeper swimming hole close to the Geldeston Locks pub. In this idyllic spot, tresses of weed sweep on the current just under the surface and the surrounding poplar trees sway in the breeze.
Swimmers can drop in from a boat launching post or slide in where the bank slopes gently.
Santon, Little Ouse
Close to Thetford, this is a pretty chalk stream running through forest and up to 2 metres deep, marking the border between Norfolk and Suffolk.
You can get into the water from the footbridge at St Helen’s picnic spot in Santon Downham. It might be busy, so just swim away from the crowds until you find tranquillity. You could even let the river take you 6km downstream to Brandon. You might want to arrange a pick-up.
Ringland River Green, River Wensum
Ringland is a small village in the Wensum Valley, 7 miles north-west of Norwich, and the shallow River Wensum here by the 1920 concrete bridge is a popular paddling and bathing area in the warmer months.
The nearby Ringland Hills are thought to be a glacial terminal moraine, the same as Cromer Ridge. You can see rare Second World War concrete ‘tank traps’ by the banks of the Wensum.
Outney Common, River Waveney
On the Norfolk/Suffolk border, you’ll find a 3km stretch of the Waveney meandering around open common land with good water quality, up to 2m deep in parts. It’s popular with canoeists too – you can hire them from the nearby caravan park. The water’s clean and you can drift or swim along, nodding to the cows and admiring the scenery.
Lamas, Buxton, River Bure
A quiet, rural deep and clear running stretch of the River Bure, flowing past gardens, fields and a church. You can also swim at Buxton Mill Pool but the tide can be strong, and further along near Coltishall.
Caen Meadow at Wroxham
The sandy beach here allows a shallow entry for you to slip into the water. As it’s on the Broads boats could pass by so make sure you’re wearing a bright bathing cap or wearing a tow float. The meadow here is a great place for a family get-together.
Please be advised that there is no public parking nearby.
Shotesham Ford, River Tas
Not really a place for serious swimming but there’s a deep pool in the middle where you can get some strokes in. A tight waterway leads through to a wide section that is perfect for a cooling dip.
Fairhaven Water Gardens
Get a family membership and you could wild swim in the South Walsham inner broad to your heart’s content, as well as enjoying the 130 acres of cultivated, natural and wild gardens. More details here.
Anderson’s Meadow, Norwich, River Wensum
Join the canoeists and picnickers on this lovely spot by the river. Entry point is opposite the Eagle Canoe Pub via a ledge on a slipway. The Marriott’s Way runs at the back of the park so you could combine a dip with a bike ride.
And the serious stuff…
- Check the tide – don’t swim if it’s too strong.
- Don’t swim in locks, canals or urban rivers.
- Acclimatise to the water before getting immersed. It’s not a bad idea to wear a wetsuit.
- Avoid diving or jumping in – you don’t know what’s underneath the water.
Swim with others – it’s more fun, and safer.
- Wear a bright cap or tow float – make sure you can be seen if there are canoes or boats around.
- Stay away from algae – it’s not only slippery but potentially toxic.
Advice from the Broads Authority is not to swim in the Broads. Read more