Whether you’re visiting Cornwall’s dramatic coastline, venturing onto the moors or exploring the remains of its industrial landscape, you can always enhance the experience with a swim. Over recent years the trend for wild swimming has helped popularise many of Cornwall’s lesser known bathing spots.
As we wrote in this blog post The beginner’s guide to wild swimming in Cornwall, wild swimming allows you to connect with the natural environment while looking after your physical and mental wellbeing. But with so many wonderful places to choose between you could need a little guidance.
Coves and bays
They might be off the beaten track but these coves and bays are well worth the journey. Perfect whether you are just dipping a toe into the world of wild swimming or looking for an adventure.
Nanjizal Bay, Land’s End
At England’s most south westerly point, Nanjizal Bay is known for its staggering natural stone formations like the ‘Song of the Sea’, a great narrow archway, and the sparkling ‘Diamond Horse.’ Visitors can also wallow in jade-green plunge pools, snorkel in coralline sea caves and stand under a freshwater waterfall.
Prussia Cove, near Cudden Point
East of St. Michael’s mount you’ll find a collection of picturesque coves with quintessentially Cornish names: Piskies, Bessie’s, King’s and Coule’s. Often quiet, even in summer, the waters here are clear and calm. The sandy beach at Piskies is a particularly convenient place to enjoy a private swim.
Portheras Cove, between Morvah and Pendeen
A true ‘locals’ beach, you’ll find Portheras Cove at the northern edge of west Cornwall in a shallow valley protected by sheer cliffs. Follow a riverside path to the secluded sandy cove and you might even have the occasional encounter with the local seals.
Perfect for wild swimming novices, sea pools give you a taste of the experience protected by man-made or natural defenses, sometimes with the reassurance of a life-guard.
Porthtowan Tidal Pool, St Agnes
Come at high tide and you’ll miss this secluded man made pool hidden among the cliffs of Porthtowan beach. But at low tide it’s an ideal wild swimming spot. Be warned though, it’s a pretty tricky climb over large boulders from the beach, but totally worth it for the perfect, clear waters.
Bude Sea Pool, Summerleaze Beach
Built in the 1930s, Bude’s large sea pool curves beneath the cliffs of north Cornwall and fills twice daily with sea water. Bude pool is completely free and staffed by volunteers during the summer months
Portreath Tidal Baths, Portreath
Although most of the tidal baths here are too small to swim in, there’s one pool, nicknamed ‘rocky’ that makes for a great dip, particularly for children. The story goes that the smaller baths here were made in the 19th century so that a noblewoman could soak in the sea, while the larger pool was blasted into existence by local miners’ dynamite.
Mousehole Rock Pool, Mousehole
If you’ve got kids with you and you’re after some wild wading rather than wild swimming, check out Mousehole Rock Pool. Shored up by cement around one end to keep the water in, the knee high water is a great place for a splash around – or just sit on the edge and cool your feet while enjoying the views across Mount’s Bay to Lizard Point.
There are disused quarries dotted all around the Cornish countryside, and some are filled with water! Here are a couple that are popular with wild swimmers.
Goldiggins Quarry, Minions, Bodmin Moor
Accessible via a pretty walk across Bodmin Moor, Goldiggins Quarry is hidden in a grass amphitheatre and fed by crystal clear spring waters. Around the water’s edge you’ll find quarried stones that are ideal for sunbathing.
Kit Hill Quarry
A similar size to Golddiggins, Kit Hill Quarry is less well known. Out of the summer season it’s best to approach with caution though, as the deep waters can get seriously cold. But there are plenty of other things to do in the area, including a lovely 2 mile circular walk and a horse trail.
Some of the most magical swimming spots you can find are the waterfalls hidden away in Cornwall’s valleys and forests. If you have the heart of an explorer, you should go hunting for these:
St Nectan’s Kieve, Tintagel
Look up from the plunge pool here in this spectacular spot.
The basin at the bottom of this collection of waterfalls is deep and clear. The edge of the pool has been eroded over the years to make the rock as smooth as bath tiles. If you follow the gush of the river uphill you’ll find three enchanting waterfalls, one of them 60ft tall.
Golitha Falls, Redgate, Fowey
The River Fowey runs through this sun-dappled forest in a series of cascades until it reaches a plunge pool called Liskeard. It’s easy to get lost in wonder in this fairytale woodland. So long as you mind your step on the wet rocks around here, you’ll stay spellbound by the tranquility of this hidden swimming spot.