Five brilliant wild swimming spots in and around London

Musical misery guts Morrissey, ensconced in an LA mansion, once sang nostalgically about London’s ‘slate-grey Victorian skies’ – obviously not a man with much of experience of city life here at the height of summer. We can’t imagine he ever sat under slate-grey office ceilings, gazing out across the skyline to the Thames Valley hills, wishing that he could be anywhere other than stuck in front of a computer screen as the tarmac melts on the streets outside.

No, in times such as these, it’s better to heed the words of Joe Strummer, who at least had the good sense to ‘live by the river’. It’s easier to imagine Strummer hopping aboard a train at Paddington and heading out in search of a decent spot of wild swimming – surely one of the most refreshing antidotes to life in the urban sprawl. Once you’ve felt the addictive zing that swimming in cool, fresh, running water brings to your every living cell, hot summer days mean very little else.

So here’s a quick list of wild-swimming spots, each accessible within 90 minutes of central London (although most of them much closer than that). Take care, now! We’ll see you in the water.

Serpentine Lido, Hyde Park

As central as it gets, and a great place to begin life as a wild swimmer, as it’s home to Britain’s oldest swimming club (the Serpentine Swimming Club) and open daily from 6am to 9.30pm. Drop in before work to get those cells zinging, or after work to de-stress, always safe in the knowledge that there’s someone brave looking out for you, never too far away.

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