Splash! 9 outdoor swimming spots
It's getting hot in here, so take off all your clothes! Now dive into our guide to the best open water swimming locations in Bucks and Oxon. Just kindly refrain from bombing, running or petting please.
It’s been a tough few months for keen swimmers with pools still closed until further notice so, with temperatures now soaring, never has open water looked so inviting. We have some idyllic lakes and stretches of river in our area but remember to stay safe (don’t swim alone) and do your due diligence before you rock up. All of these outdoor swimming spots are currently open but they may have safety restrictions in place. Don’t just head down with your cozzie, as you may need to book a slots.
Marlow Open Water Swim, Westhorpe Lakes, Little Marlow, Bucks
Over 45 acres of lake space for a £5 swim – that sounds pretty good to us. At the moment, they’re restricting entry to people who have been open water swimming before and those over 16, but if you meet the criteria this beautiful lake is well worth an early-morning dip. Don’t forget to check the opening times.
Queenford Lakes, nr Berinsfield, Oxon
I take my daughter to the open water swimming sessions at this lovely, clean lake. You need to register for a chipped wristband and sessions are limited to early morning and late evenings (there are a lot of other watersports taking place on the lake) so do have a proper read of the website rather than heading down.
Denham Waterski Club, Denham, Bucks
This 20-acre lake just outside of Gerrards Cross is home to plenty of watersports (clue’s in the name), but open water swimming is popular here. You’ll have to book a slot with a wristband, which are currently available on weeknight evenings and weekend mornings.
Port Meadow, Oxford
This stretch of the river in Jericho runs through the meadow and is so dreamy it inspired sections of Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. There’s free parking at the north end of Port Meadow, just off Godstow Road in Wolvercote.
Willen Lake, Milton Keynes, Bucks
This one offers so many activities (it’s practically a mini Centerparcs) that you might not have known open water swimming was even an option. Note, you’ll need to book a 1-hour slot at present.
Buscot Weir, nr Faringdon, Oxon
A Muddy reader recommended this one (thank you!). The weir gently waterfalls down into a large pool area that’s perfect for a cooling dip and family-friendly with it. There’s currently free National Trust parking nearby, too.
Marsh Lock, Henley, Oxon
This is a 10 minute walk from the Mill Lane car park in Henley and you get to float along admiring the town’s multi-million pound riverfront grand designs. For more info, see Henley Open Water Swimming Club – the site also has details of nearby swims further along the river in Hurley and Medmenham.
Olney, Milton Keynes, Bucks
A popular wild swimming spot on the River Great Ouse, partly due to nice clear water and partly because the shallower spots make it perfect for those with little swimmers. Access the water via steps at the nearby playing fields, or further along by the church.
Clifton Hampden, nr Abingdon, Oxon
Head for the bridge in this village near Abingdon and you’ll find a stretch of the river lined with mini beaches. Once lockdown lifts proper, combine your swim with a visit to the nearby Barley Mow pub – Jerome K Jerome used to prop up the bar here in the late 19th century when he wasn’t writing Three Men In A Boat.
PS – The best open water swimming spots are often word -of-mouth affairs, so do pop a note in the comment box below if we’ve missed anywhere good near you.