For those living in and around Manchester, there are several wild swimming spots that offer the opportunity to dip into these natural waters. From the ‘secret lake’ at Levenshulme, tucked away behind an industrial estate, to the highest beach in the UK at Gaddings Dam in Todmorden, each location offers a unique experience for seasoned swimmers and beginners alike. Given that Manchester doesn’t exactly scream natural beauty or beach life, it can be difficult to find places to swim that aren’t leisure centres. That’s why we’ve hunted around to find the best wild swimming spots in and near Manchester to help you out!

1. The ‘secret lake’ at Levenshulme

secret lake at Levenshulme wild swimming Manchester
Source: Levenshulme Secret Lake Facebook

This lake is tucked away behind an industrial estate and is a bit of a community project. It took 8 years to get it swim-ready. You can find it via the Fallowfield loop or Longford Lane​. However, it’s important to note that swimming is not formally advised here, as it’s a fishing spot and there may be hidden debris beneath the surface​.

2. Lumb Falls near Hebden Bridge

Lumb Falls near Hebden Bridge

This spot has a beautiful circular pool deep enough to jump into, with small waterfalls projecting from the mossy cliffs. It is a half-hour train journey from Manchester, followed by a walk​. If you’re skilled with social media photography, you might be able to make it look like Bali. On a sunny day. And perfect lighting. And a filter.

3. Pickmere Lake, Cheshire

wild swimming Manchester Pickmere Lake Cheshire

Home to one of the early battlegrounds of the River and Lake Swimming Association, this lake has exceptionally clear water. It’s a bit trickier to get to and you might need to park away and walk. In fact, in recent years neighbours have complained about parking on nearby residential estates. However, it’s a nice walk if you do leave the car further out, and you can make the most of it by spending the day at the lake.

4. Gaddings Dam, Todmorden

wild swimming Manchester
John Illingworth / Gaddings Dam / CC BY-SA 2.0

It’s not only one of the best wild swimming spots near Manchester, but it’s also the highest. Gaddings Dam is a huge 355 metres above sea level, so it’s dubbed as the highest beach in the UK. A group of volunteers have been maintaining it for over 20 years, and have managed to keep it clean. It’s a great place to swim not too far from the city, however it’s important to stay close to the walls and not dive as there are lots of rocks at the bottom.

5. Wild Shore Delamere

wild swimming delamere
Source: Wild Shore Delamere

Wild Shore Delamere offers a safe and secure environment for open water swimming, making it an ideal place for beginners wanting to try wild swimming near Manchester as well as those training for events or endurance triathlons. Safety instructors on stand-up paddleboards and rest pontoons are available throughout the course to ensure your well-being. They have a 400m and 750m loop available, so you can do as much or as little as you like. You do need to wear a hat and tow float though! Open water sessions take place on Wednesdays from 5pm to 7pm, Saturdays from 10am to 12pm, and Sundays from 5pm to 7pm. It costs £6 to swim too, which you can book online!

If you’re in need of more inspiration to make the most of the sun in Manchester, check out the best parks. Or alternatively, have a look at these easy day trips to take.