Six of the best outdoor swimming locations in Derbyshire
Derbyshire is home to some fantastic outdoor swimming locations, from historic sites to stunning lidos.
The Outdoor Swimming Guide offers an insight into the best spots in Derbyshire. All locations are tried, tested, and loved by swimmers year-round ensuring that no matter where you choose to go on this list you are guaranteed a terrific swimming experience.
Each location also has some handy tips to let you know where to head for after your dip in the water for either some delicious food or an exciting day out!
The River Derwent at Chatsworth
With grassy banks, shady trees, and sandy shallows to paddle in, the gentle River Derwent is a perfect place to pass a sunny afternoon. The river is easily reached from the footpaths that pass through the estate; it is a short, downhill walk from the Calton Lees car park or can be reached by following the river from Chatsworth House. There are refreshments available at Chatsworth, and at the garden centre at Calton Lees (where there are also toilets).
Slippery Stones, Upper Derwent
Near the stone-arched packhorse bridge, Slippery Stones is a rocky paddling spot in the sparkling waters of the infant Derwent River. There is also a deep plunge pool, with just enough space for a swim – jump in from the rocky ledge, with caution. The green banks are perfect for a picnic. Under the shadow of the heathered Howden Moors, it is the perfect spot for a quiet evening swim or a great refresher on a hot summer’s day.
Mermaid’s Pool, near Hayfield
High on the slopes of the giant Kinder Scout, the twinkling eye of Mermaid’s Pool is said to offer healing properties in its cool and peaty water. The pool is a challenging five-kilometre hike from Hayfield, and you will need to cross boggy, pathless open moorland; it is best enjoyed by determined walkers or fell runners who want to combine a day on the moors with a swim and perhaps lunch by the beautiful Kinder Downfall. Those who make the effort will be rewarded with expansive views of the Peak District’s heathered moorland. You should take plenty of food and warm drinks; the only facilities are in Hayfield or the nearby historic market town, Glossop.
Anchor Church, near Ingleby
This astonishing area of natural beauty is found just to the west of the small hamlet of Ingleby in the heart of the Derbyshire countryside south of Derby. An area loved by visitors for its mysterious natural caves and abundant nature, this spot is also home to a great stretch of river which is perfect for swimming. Bordered by tall sheer rocks on one bank and endless fields on the other, this is a beautifully unique swim spot. Many years ago, the river was responsible for carving the ancient caves in the sandstone rock found in this area, fortunately nowadays the gentle current is suitable for swimmers who enjoy long-distance swimming. For those who want deeper water, if you follow the river to the east, experienced swimmers can enter the challenging waters of the River Trent.
New Bath Hotel Open Air Pool, Matlock Bath
Opened in 1934, the glamorous Matlock Bath lido – the only outdoor pool in England to be fed by geothermal springs – fell into disrepair when the hotel closed in 2013. Fortunately, it was rescued from dereliction and refurbished in 2019, and you can once enjoy a swim in this beautiful pool under Matlock Bath, one of Queen Victoria’s favourite destinations. The unheated pool, in the shadow of Matlock Bath’s limestone cliffs, holds a steady temperature of between 17 and 19°C thanks to its subterranean-drawn waters. The pool, part of the hotel spa complex, is only open to over 18-year-olds but may offer family swims during the holidays. You can treat yourself to afternoon tea on the terrace or a relaxing post-dip aromatherapy massage in the spa.
Found near the peaceful village of Calver in the stunning Peak District area, the bridge by Calver Weir marks the start of a fantastic swim spot loved by long-distance swimmers. Following the River Derwent south, this stretch of river is consistently deep and has a gentle current making it ideal for a relaxing swim. The water remains cold regardless of temperature and for those wanting shallower water, downstream away from the trees the depth decreases to be perfect for paddling. For those looking for a nearby adrenaline rush, the bridge is safe to jump from and is a popular spot for people to head towards in the summer months. The nearby village is home to a number of great food locations including The Bridge Inn found right next door to the river.
The Outdoor Swimming Guide by Vertebrate Publishing will be published on August 12 and is now available for pre-order on the Vertebrate Publishing website. With 20% off and free shipping, don’t miss out on more than 400 fantastic swimming location recommendations across the UK!
A message from Phil Bramley, Derbyshire Times editor
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