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Wye Swimming

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!.

Master Swimmer Paul Jickells in the Wye.

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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

To Start

1) Trunks Male/Swimsuit Female.

2) Wetsuit if preferred. 

3) Towel large or micro towel.

4) Goggles and swim camps sunrise, various or print your own.

Other Essentials

1) Inflatable Chillswim drybag or tow float

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

2) Neoprene gloves, footwear and cap

3) Base Layer Men Base layer Woman Warm layers.

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. The Sony is for out of water shots the GoPro for in the water. There are though all round waterproof cameras such as 

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. 


Quick Video

A quick 2 minute video with master swimmer Mark Jickells in the river Wye towards Sellack Bridge and Backney Common. 


Swim Spots Preview

We haven't really made a thing of documenting swim spots but am currently putting together some details for you. Meanwhile here are a few near Hereford where we live. B is for beginners and X is for experienced. 


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. 

Link: Herefordshire Nature Trust 

River Lugg Flats near Hereford

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. 

Things to see: A short distance into the walk the Water Works Museum, Breinton Springs for amazing free flowing fresh water to drink, St Michaels Church and medieval settlement. 

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. 

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Hereford City

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 down stream on the left bank before the Greenway (we prefer this name) and it is just beyond Eign (rail) where there are some rapids. However, it's nice and steady beneath the Eign bridge during summer and there's another beach beyond. If you think you have the experience go for it. They're nice rapids to float down and the swim beyond is pleasant. 

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Bredwardine Bridge/Herefordshire

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. 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. 

Bredwardine Bridge on the river Wye in Herefordshire on the Wye Valley Walk
Wild swimming at Bredwardine Bridge on the Wye Valley Walk Herefordshire. Image: Trevor Rickard
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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.

Image by: Jim Barton

Getting there: You can catch the bus or park up in the town nearby the castle. From there it's a short walk to what is a pleasant swim spot egalitarian in nature. 

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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. 

River Wye near Sellack in the Wye Valley A.O.N.B in Herefordshire
River Wye at Backney Common in Herefordshire near Sellack and Ross on Wye in the Wye Valley A.O.N.B
River Wye life near Backney Common in the Wye Valley A.O.N.B in Herefordshire.

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: 

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 donlt hesitate to contact either group. 




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. 

The course or bog is in marsh land that feeds the river Irfon a Cambrian Mountain stream, which then flows into the Wye at Builth Wells. For more details on the Irfon follow the links. 

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Llangorse Big Swim


The 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. 


The Lake is an intrinsic part of the Wye system feeding the Wye via the river Llynfi that flows into the Wye at Glasbury but not before flowing in and out of the lake. Follow the link to the river. 

The Wild Wye Swim

The Wild Wye Swim is an annual event that takes place in the Lower Wye. Organized by SARA (The Severn Area Rescue Association) – to raise vital funds for the the charities rescue work across the area it has a marathon 10.5 KM swim, a 7KM swim and a 1 mile swim for juniors to. See link for details. 


This stretch of the Wye is beautiful with woodland and pasture either side of the route


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