I’m hoping that Summer 2024 will bless us with wonderful weather, making it the perfect time to dive into wild swimming in Edinburgh with Kids. Whether you’re a seasoned swimmer or just starting out, Edinburgh and its surrounding areas offer some fantastic spots to enjoy the thrill of open water. As a local with two children, including my strong-swimming daughter Kate, wild swimming has become a cherished activity for our family. Here’s an update on our favorite swimming spots and some new adventures to explore.

Why Go Wild Swimming in Edinburgh with kids?

Wild swimming offers a myriad of benefits, from the exhilaration of cold water immersion to numerous health advantages. Many swimmers report reduced inflammation, fewer colds, and improved mental well-being. There’s something uniquely therapeutic about being immersed in nature, and the sense of community among wild swimmers is truly special. Inspired by the TV show “Wild Swimming with Greg Hemphill and June Wilson Nimmo,” more people are discovering this addictive activity.

If you’re planning to give it a go then it is really important to educate yourself about potential hazards such as poor water quality, blue-green algae, rips, cold water shock, after drop etc. I was lucky to have a wonderful teacher – Debbie – who specialises in outdoor swimming and she would advise anyone who wants to take up swimming outdoors to read all the advice on the Outdoor Swimming Society first.

Edinburgh’s Best Wild Swimming Spots

Wardie Bay, Granton

Wardie Bay remains a popular spot for local swimmers, myself included. The sheltered bay is usually calm, making it a great place for a refreshing dip. However, when the tide is unfavorable, it can be less inviting. In those times, we often venture a bit further afield.

Foxlake, Dunbar

Foxlake near Dunbar is a fantastic alternative when Wardie Bay isn’t at its best. The drive is worth it for the clean, open water and the added safety of a lifeguard on duty. You need to book in advance, but the peace of mind and beautiful setting make it worthwhile. Kate and I have been swimming here since she was eight, always wearing our medium-thickness wetsuits to stay comfortable in the water but lots of people just wear a swim suit.

Two people are smiling, they are dressed for swimming and are wearing dry robes and swim caps.

More Wild Swimming Adventures

Portobello Beach

An obvious choice, Portobello Beach is perfect for a swim followed by a coffee at one of the excellent cafes along the promenade. The water quality is monitored, and the vibrant atmosphere adds to the experience. It definitely feels cleaner than Wardie Bay and has much more space to relax afterwards. If your child is over 11, you can also book Soul Water Sauna for a private session to warm up afterwards!

Threipmuir Reservoir, Pentlands

For freshwater enthusiasts, Threipmuir Reservoir offers ample space for longer swims. It’s popular with triathletes and provides a peaceful escape into nature. It’s easy to park near by but good footwear is needed to be able to get to the water.

East Lothian Beaches

Gullane and Seacliff are two of our East Lothian favorites. These beautiful beaches are ideal for a day trip and offer some of the best swimming spots in the region. Seacliff has an outdoor shower and car park – both added assets for Wild swimming.

Getting Started with Wild Swimming

Getting started with wild swimming is simple. All you need is a swimsuit and the courage to take the plunge. While wetsuits, neoprene gloves, and socks are optional, they can make your swim more comfortable, especially in cooler waters. Bright swim caps and goggles are essential if you plan on putting your head in the water.

Remember to take your time entering the water and keep your first dip short to allow your body to adapt. The most important rule is to listen to your body and get out before you feel too cold. After your swim, dry off quickly and change into warm clothes to avoid the after-drop phenomenon.

Safety Tips for Wild Swimming

  • Never Swim Alone: Join local swim groups like The Wild Ones (Portobello) or Wardie Bay Wild Ones (Granton) for company and safety.
  • Check Conditions: Always check the weather, tides, and water conditions before swimming.
  • Visibility: Wear a brightly colored swim cap and consider using a tow float.
  • Stay Warm: Be cautious of hypothermia and always have warm clothes and a hot drink ready for after your swim. Kate and I both have dry robes which are useful for changing but equally very warm.
  • Jellyfish Awareness: Be mindful of jellyfish, especially the stinging lion’s mane variety, during summer.
  • Check out all the other advice on the Outdoor Swimming Society webpage too.

Wild swimming has become an integral part of our lives. From the serene reservoirs to the bustling beaches, every swim is an adventure. This summer, with the weather on our side, it’s the perfect time to dive into new swimming spots and create lasting memories. Whether you’re an experienced swimmer or just curious to try, the wild swimming community in and around Edinburgh is welcoming and vibrant. See you in the water! Happy swimming.

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