Wye Wyeld Swimming
When your in the water whether playing about or swimming more seriously there's no doubting it the rivers a wonder whatever. It is in fact a 'wonder stroke' meaning it's a great idea to go for one. Here we explore wild swimming and wild swimming spots for those who love to get their fluid soul going. So go with the flow in the Wye it's an awesome vibe that'll leave you feeling like the waterling you know you are but always remember we are nature and need to treat it as we would like to be treated ourselves. With respect!.
Why Swim Outdoors - What Are The List Of Mental Pluses - What About The Body - Gear & Other Essentials - Wye Swim Video - Links To Local Swimming Groups - Swim Spots Preview - Map to Pinned Locations
Hereford City - Bunch of Carrots - The Straight & Holme Lacy - Hoarwithy & Backney Common - River Lugg - Hampton Bishop Silky Pool - Endless Pool - Lugg Wye Confluence - Bredwardine - Hay On Wye
Wales Catchment - Outside catchment - Lakes & Pools - Events
Why Swim Outdoors or Wild?
Swimming outdoors in rivers or lakes without lanes or supervision has always taken place but in recent times it has exploded in popularity. And there's one reason for that. Being amid raw nature is the essence of life and in being so it's good for our mental wellbeing and health. In our view we're not separate from the natural world although we can feel it at times, which is why being immersed in wild waters works every time.
What Are the List Of Mental Pluses?
1) Touch, sense and feel without distraction makes you smile inside.
2) The imagination and intellect are stimulated. George Bernard Shaw, Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale all advocated cold baths and showers to fortify their mental constitution and creativity.
3) Stress Hormones & Cortisol are decreased.
4) Problems can be solved as the release from day to day competition enables gateways to open.
What About the Body?
1) Cold water is good for reducing inflammation. We've even put our ankles in cold river water to help injuries for hiking. It therefore soothes aches and pains.
2) The body needs to feel. Cold water is a stimulant and activates the immune system while increasing your white blood count.
3) It produces endorphins in the body thus producing a natural high.
The list of pluses goes on and on. Like the Wild Swimming Brothers who have a super long list of pluses we've never ever felt down after a good swim. We have after a few to many drinks but never a wild swim.
Gear: Before we get into some swim spots see list below for equipment
1) Trunks Male/Swimsuit Female.
2) Wetsuit if preferred.
2) Tatonka Flask (brilliant) or light weight brew kit.
3) Water bottle for hydration.
3) First aid kit for small cuts etc.
4) Good snack or sandwich.
5) If into it sun protection hat or sunglasses.
6) Lightweight head torch if out early morning or late. Hike N Swim.
7) Small light weight waterproof Osprey sack (preferred 200g) for packing it all away and for inserting into floating drybag.
Cold Water Essentials
1) Warm hat headwear.
4) Warm clothing for after your swim.
4) Outdoor Swimming Society Changing robe.
Filming & Photo
Some of you might want to film or take photos either for personal use or to share on social media such as Youtube, Instagram or Facebook. Whatever it is you'll need some basic gear to do film or photograph effectively in the water.
1) Camera - we use a Sony RX100 and a GoPro Hero5. The Sony is for out of water shots the GoPro for in the water. There are though all round waterproof cameras such as the Olympus Tough TG 6, the Ricoh WG-80 or budget FUJIFILM FinePix XP140.
2) Whilst swimming you have your dry bag with all your gear in it towing behind and it can be a nuisance to keep getting your camera gear out. So, a waterproof waste or bum bag is ideal.
3) A camera float and tie is essential. You don't want to see your camera sink to the bottom of a dark pool.
4) Extra power for the camera. Batteries!
5) Storage for your film and photos via an SD Card.
A quick 2 minute video with master swimmer Mark Jickells in the river Wye towards Sellack Bridge and Backney Common.
Links/Local Swimming Groups
There are some good local swimming groups in Hereford that are well supported going out regularly to swim in the Wye, the Lugg, pools, the Lyde and so on. They are:
The Water Birds with over 600 members.
The Hereford Wild Swimming Group with over 600 members.
The Wye Not Swim? group with 1,400 members
Both groups are up for a good swim and good vibe in the water. If you're wanting to hook up why not join or if you're in the area and wanting the heads up on the spots don't hesitate to contact either group.
Swim Spots Preview
Pinned Locations/Swim Map. We haven't really made a thing of documenting swim spots but have put together some details of places we are aware of. Here are most of those places dotted around the Wye region/basin, which go into the wilder remote areas to. To view the map below click on the box top right. There are pictures and video attached to each pinned location. To view some reviewed areas continue with the page. B is for beginners and X Experienced.
Wye Basin Swim Map
There are numerous put inns in and around the City that have been known for generations. We've entered the river in every one of them.
Hereford Rowing Club B.X: Again this is not an official swimming put inn but we've used it before whilst the rowing club go about their business. It's again about respect and staying out of their way largely. The steps lead down to the river at Grid Ref: SO506395 and you can swim either up river or down. Up is nice and long! Just be aware of the rowers who use it frequently. For details or location see link above or go to Hereford Rowing Club.
The Pavilion B.X: This isn't official but is one of our favorite put inns with its steps again all the way down to the river at Grid Ref: SO511395. It is in fact used by the Hereford Youth Canoe Centre (HYCC) who are based at the Pavilion in Herefords Castle Green. However, if decent, polite and leaving no trace they're usually OK with the odd swimmer. Click here for Friends of the Castle Green
Victoria Bridge B: The beach at the Victoria Bridge built in 1898 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee has been used for dunking in for centuries. It's a natural beach that emerges during the summer low waters. It's situated on the South or right bank (Map) of the Wye at Grid Ref: SO512393 on the Bishops Meadows (see paragraph in bridge history) side of the river. You can get a good 2Km swim in from here past the sewage works (don't get to concerned) and get out at the new Greenway Bridge near Eign East of the City. It's a big loop around the Bartonsham district, which has itself been used to swim in the Wye for many years via the numerous put inns there and the Bartonsham Bathing Hut a facility used in the Bartonsham Meadows during the 1920's for city swimmers. For location see swim map.
Greenway and Eign Bridge X: Again another popular spot in the city this time towards the East. At the base of The Greenway bridge (now named Canary), which was funded by sustrans as part of the national cycle network, it's a natural summer time beach. Youths can often be seen jumping off flood defenses opposite. If you swim down river, perhaps to the Bunch of Carrots, be aware that the water is reasonably strong just beyond Eign (rail bridge Grid Ref: SO520390) where there are some rapids. However, it's nice and steady beneath the Eign bridge during summer and there are other beaches. If you think you have the experience this few K swim go for it. They're nice rapids to float down and the swim beyond is pleasant.
Lower Breinton/River Wye B.X: It's not just famed for its spring but for its swimming to. We used to get down here in big gangs back in the day but you can find quieter days to. The great thing about swimming down at Lower Breinton is the walk to get there. It's simply beautiful and when there you'll be swimming in the midst of what's called the Breinton Gorge.
Lower Breinton is situated to the West of Hereford. From the city it's a fantastic walk from Hereford alongside the river Wye.
Beyond the Water Works - Getting there: If using a car Lower Breinton Grid Ref: SO471395 can be accessed off the A438 Hereford West or via the City center from off the Breinton Road. There is good parking at Lower Breinton at the designated car park beside St Michaels Church. There are residents so be respectful - no rubbish! Other parking is at the Water Works Museum above. But as always we recommend you walk or cycle.
The Bunch of Carrots
The bunch of carrots (Grid Ref SO549381) is well known for its pub by the same name (Click Here) but it's also known for its swimming pool as well as the Salmon. A large bend arcs around to flow directly South where small rapids emerge. The pool situated within the bend however is still and deep. It's swum by many a local including ourselves.
The put in is easy and can be found at the end of a thin field adjacent to the pool. To get there walk up river 200m on the stank from the Bunch of Carrots until you come to a gate. Step through and immediately turn left into said field. At the end you'll find a hut in season and a bench. Below is the put in. You can of course enter from the B4224 road opposite where there's a decent layby. Access is from a roadside gate. Once through just walk up the steps and on through the same gates mentioned.
Another put in is directly opposite the Bunch of Carrots as you step onto the stank.
Parking & Refreshment
The Bunch of Carrots is a well decent pub. It's stone walled and cozy inside. You can either get a pot of tea or a pint and or other after your swim. To park simply use the pub and bring trade to it. Alternatively park in the layby mentioned, which is a few yards away from the pub itself closer to Hereford. All in all it's an ideal swim spot.
The Straight & Holme Lacy Big Bend (Herefordshire)
In the same area as the Bunch of Carrots is a straight with a great put in and area to leave your kit (Grid Ref: SO550365). The river is slow moving and is good for most people. Further down is the big bend at Holme Lacy (Grid Ref: SO551360) This is a super pleasant spot just to paddle and swim although much of it can be shallow with riffles. There's no denying it though you can spend a fair bit of time here out of the way and in peace.
Hoarwithy/Sellack/Backney Common Hike Swim
Hoarwithy/Backney X: This is a really nice stretch of river in the Mid to Lower Wye in Herefordshire. You can put in (Map) at Grid Ref: SO548291 at Hoarwithy, swim 4K, get out at Sellack and hike across to Backney common and swim again towards Ross passing beneath the old Hereford to Gloucester dismantled rail bridge. Alternatively you can get out at Sellack footbridge and walk back into Ross On Wye where decent buses will take you back to where you want to go. But if you're up for a long swim you can always swim the meander from Sellack to Backney adding an additional 8K to your swim. All the best with that 14 K beast that will admittedly take you through a lovely wooded stretch of river. Of course you can shorten it to 8 K by starting at Sellack itself.
Getting there: If by bus you will need to either walk from Kings Thorn using the 33 service from Hereford or catch the early 08:40 33 Hereford Service to the Bridge at Wilton (Ross on Wye) catching the 09:39 44 link to Hoarwithy from there. Travelling by car is simple. Turn off the A40 at Ross on Wye and onto the A49. 400 meters on the A49 Pass by the Bridstow turning and choose instead the turning right to Pool Mill. From there stick to the road until you get to Hoarwithy. Unfortunately you won't have time to catch a connecting service back from Ross On Wye so a good stretch of the Wye and a walk back to Hoarwithy from Sellack is probably the next best thing. A good day out.
The river Lugg starts on top of Pool hill in the Radnor Forest and flows through Mid Wales and then into North Herefordshire eventually meeting the Wye at Mordiford 4 miles East of Hereford. Here we take a look at a short stretch bear to Hereford.
Upper River Lugg Meadows B.X: The Upper River Lugg Meadows in Hereford are famous for swimming and days out by the river. The swims spots are situated on what is an ancient Lamas meadow and is maintained by Herefordshire Nature Trust. The area has unrestricted access for walks. All along here you can walk and swim. Various beaches and pools reveal themselves to the aquatic explorer (se map), which are easily accessed.
The river Luggs a great river to swim or walk (see diary) but it is colder than the Wye because it's faster flowing. Acclimatization is quick though. You can choose to swim close to the beaches and pools or swim the length of the Meadows from A4103 to A438.
Getting there: The Lugg Meadows are off the A438 Ledbury road Grid Ref SO533409 on the East side of Hereford near the Cock of Tupsley pub. There is room to park on the slip road (see map), which is also residential so be respectful - no rubbish! But as always we recommend you walk or cycle.
Lugg/Hampton Bishop Silky Pool, Herefordshire B.X
The Hampton Bishop Pool is situated on a slow bend of the river near to the village of Hampton Bishop 4 miles East of Hereford. (see map) You wouldn't notice it if you didn't know the area for you have to walk over to it from the stank, which many stick to. It also looks like a ha ha from there because in dropping down from the bank once reached there you'll find the secluded sunken beach and the overarching trees, flora and fauna, which gives this spot the feel of an enclave.
Getting There By Bike: From the Eastern outskirts of Hereford cycle to the Bunch of Carrots pub then 200 meters past the pub turn left down Rectory Road - follow it all the way around 1KM until you come to a track, which turns left. Head down the track to a gate. Lock bike or take it with you onto the stank heading East. Less than 200m meters in drop down and head for the bend in the river. The pool and beach is down below.
Getting There By Car: Same as above only this time drive past the first left turning and take the second less than 1 KM down the road. Follow the road all the way up past the church i your left to said track. Cars can park at the top of the track.
Out Of The Region: Orientate by following instructions above. You may come from the any cardinal point.
Video: Want to know what the pools like check this video out of our swim there. We called it the Silky Pool.
It feels amazing to swim into a current of water and sustain the pace of it - for a while at least. It's playful or it can even serve as some serious training - perhaps for pool swimming or triathlons. Check out this Endless Pool on the river Lugg a short distance up river from the Silky pool above. Why is it so good? It's good because of access. There's a beach and you don't have to wade to far until you reach the nicely flowing pool. In fact it's a few yards and you're into your Endless Swim. This current is for experienced swimmers or those who feel they have the stamina.
Location: The Endless Pool is located at Hampton Bridge (Click for map) on the edge of the village of Hampton Bishop a few miles East of Hereford.
History and Area: The bridge at the pool is a classic old cart bridge with three spans across the Lugg one placed centrally higher as a pointed arch. It is C17, altered and raised c1737. The bridge is an interesting survival of a former roadway which led from Hampton Bishop village to the former manor of Old Longworth, Lugwardine. The neighboring field is the site of Hampton Meadow, a large area of old, traditionally managed hay meadow. There's also Big & Little Million Common, a much smaller area of permanent pasture - the river Frome is nearby. Most years there are a nesting pair of Curlew (see Curlew Action), while Skylarks can be heard during spring. With car parking a few hundred meters South of the pool (we recommend you walk or ride if you can) it's a great spot - one of our favorites.
Wye & Lugg Confluence (Herefordshire) B.X
The Wye and Lugg confluence at Mordiford (Grid Ref: SO565371) offers up one of the most scenic swimming stretches on the Wye. The Lugg entering the Wye can be shallow so it's a case of playing and or ottering as they call it. But it's undoubtedly stimulating as you enter the warmer Wye to be greeted with a spectacular view of the Wye as it bends at the base of the impressive Westwood escarpment. We're of the opinion that its one of the best Wye swimming views around. You can swim down to Holme Lacy Bridge or go further. The put in can be on the right bank of the Wye opposite the confluence or at the confluence itself. We've seen some on the ;left bank of the confluence but the public right of way does not extend into the field. It's your choice.
Historic Bredwardine B: The bridge at Bredwardine is probably the most beautiful bridge aside from Llanstephan on the whole of the Wye Grid Ref: SO336447. The only bridge to have survived the 1795 great flood it was built 1762-1764 and restored on 1921. It is a six arch brick bridge with some stone dressings. The put in is on the right bank opposite Brobury House & Gardens in the district of Bredwardine and Brodbury. It's a beautiful bucolic spot typical of deepest England or even the Wye Valley, which the Wye Valley Walk passes by. It's worth spending a good few hours bathing here. Nearby is the Church of St Andrews where Francis Kilvert the brilliant 18th C diarist lived and worked as priest and only up the road in the village is the Red Lion Hotel if you fancy wrapping it up with a drink or some food. (news update - Red Lion is up for sale) so might not be operating. Alternatively get your brew kit out beside the river.
Getting there: If by bus catch the Hereford to Brecon or the Brecon to Hereford Bus getting off at Dorstone. From there it's an easy 3K walk. By car you're looking to get off the A438 to Bredwardine West of Hereford or the B4352 if choosing a more backwater approach.
Hay On Wye/Wales/England
The Warren B: The Warren in Hay on Wye is a well established swim pool ideal for beginners. It's situated (Map) just outside of the small book town to the South Grid Ref: SO220425 in a meadow owned and maintained by the community.
Picture by: Jim Barton
Wye swims extend into Wales employing a range of waters from rivers through to pools and reservoirs. Here we begin to explore a few. For more ideas see the Wye Swim Map.
Wye with Twmpa View B.X
Near Boughrood in the Mid to Upper Wye is one of the most alluring swim spots with regards a pool and a view is concerned. Literally less than 500 meters outside of the village on the Wye's left bank (Grid Ref: SO134385) there's a still pool in between two rapids. Down river is the view as the mighty Twmpa looms large. It can be a tricky put in but it's well worth negotiating the bank, which does offer up some changing facility and purchase.
Rectory Pool B.X
Further up river closer to the village is what's known as the Rectory Pool. We've not swam here but it's said to be good (Grid Ref: SO132385). The put in is just up river of some rapids on the Wye Valley Walk. Worth checking out.
Pen-doll-Rocks/Builth Wells X
A short distance up river from Builth are the Pen-doll-rocks (Grid Ref: SO030523). It's an exciting stretch of river full of deep pools, rapids that narrow through various rock formations and beaches beyond. The pools are good for people with a reasonable standard of swimming but if you're considering tackling the rapids I'd ensure a high standard and some experience. Picture: Ian Medcalf.
River Elan Confluence B.X
The river Elan confluence with the Wye (Grud Ref: SN966656) is a visual feast with regards a swim spot. We haven't swam it yet but having lunched on its banks we can testify it looks perfect. So, we're floating it out there. The river Elan begins above Cwmystwyth amid the bogs of Banc Yr Wyn 527 meters and then flows through the Elan reservoir system before reaching the Wye where it forms a broad pool below the slopes if Gwastedyn Hill 477 meters that stares down at the pool. A majestic swim spot if we ever did see one.
River Marteg Wash Pool B.X
We haven't an image for the wash pool in the river Marteg but we can testify the spot and river is beautiful (Grid Ref: SN961712). There is a notice board telling you of the history of the pool and how sheep were once dipped there. The Marteg flows through the Gilfach nature reserve and into the Wye at the base of Gamallt 475 meters. It's a grand spot in the Upper Wye - worth exploring for a swim or dip. Picture right by: Bill Nicholls.
River Irfon Wolf's Leap B.X
The river Irfon starts up on Bryn Garw 558 meters and flows though the epic Abergwesyn Valley, which is where you'll find the Wolf's leap (Grid Ref: SN841548) said to be the last place a wolf was shot in Wales. It's a gorge with a series of shoots and a main pool. People are now coming from far and wide because of the incredible location. Picture left by: Marion Phillips
River Irfon Wash Pool B.X
Further South from Abergwesyn and just North of Llanwrtyd Wells is the Irfon 'Wash Pool.' As with other Wash pools they were once used for dipping sheep. The waters here downstream from some waterfalls are crystal clear. Beneath are smoothed out rock formations. The surrounding area is wild it being in the Cambrian Mountains while in the immediate vicinity amid the Irfon Forest it is densely wooded. There are places nearby to kick back and eat and drink. Picture left by: Philip Halling.
Llyn Llygad X: We're putting this one out there as an idea. Having hiked up to the source of the Wye on numerous occasions and up to the summit of Plynlimon via various routes we've often thought what it would be like to swim in the small lake Llyn Llygad (Grid Ref: SN791876), which is just on the edge of the Wye catchment. Nestled in the Cwm or corrie at the base of Pen Pumlumon Fawr it strikes us as an awesome place to swim with its steep crags and cliffs looming high above. Why not give it a try - we're going to at some point.
Punch Bowl/Blorenge B.X: Many head to the Keepers pond (a great place to swim) on the South Western slopes of the Blorenge near Abergavenny but don't know of the Punch Bowl further East (Grid Ref: SO282116). This is primarily due to people sticking to where the parking is and the main drag. But go off on a tangent a bit and you'll find on its Eastern slopes the Punch Bowl an awesome glacial feature and man made lake. We've bivvied and swam it and can say for sure it's an incredible spot to get your head down and or swim. It's deep to so don't be fooled by its size.
Video: Solo Bivvy & Wild Swim at the Punch Bowl
Join Mark on a hike to the Punch Bowl where he bivvies the night and swims the bowl whilst being inspired to write a poem about the area. It's inspiring with some funny moments to.
Lakes & Pools
Don't forget to check out the Lakes & Pools page, which documents the lakes and pools in the Wye basin. There are some pretty far out places to consider swimming. Enjoy the explore!
Other swim spots or pools include Fforest Fields nearby Hundred House where there is a large lake. You might have to check first but worth considering. The other is Farmers the Lavender farm near Builth Wells, which has an excellent pool open to the public that overlooks the Mid Wales hills.
The Wye Basin is home to some unique swimming events from lake swims through to river swimming and even Bog Snorkeling. Here's what each has in store.
World Bog Snorkel Championships
The World Bog Snorkel Championships 2022 is held just outside of Llanwrtyd Wells in the Cambrian Mountains. It's a bizarre and far out event for those who like to inject some fun into their swimming.
Video World Bog
Llangorse Big Swim
Further South at Llangorse Lake is the Llangorse Big Swim. Again in Wye catchment it offers the chance to swim in the lake over distances of 1,500 Meters, 3KM or 6KM. With the central Brecon Beacons and the Mynydd Troed and Mynydd Llangorse looming large it's a spectacular place to be in the water. The event has been in hibernation lately so check the website for details.
This stretch of the Wye is beautiful with woodland and pasture either side of the route
WE ARE WATERLINGS - KEEP SWIMMING