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Where to Swim When in Manchester

Where to Swim in Manchester

Are you ready to dip your toes in the water and cool off during those scorching Manchester summer days? 

Well, we’ve got great news! Manchester is actually surrounded by some of the most beautiful lakes that are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying all sorts of water activities! 

Some of the best lakes and places to swim in near Manchester include Salford Quays, Sale Water Park, Heaton Park, and Waterswallows Quarry. These places offer a great environment for swimming and also good amenities in their areas.

But that’s not all, as we dropped by various spots in the area that we’ll discuss in depth! So, let’s dive in and explore some of the best places to swim near Manchester.

1. The secret lake at Levenshulme

From nicola_turner_photography

HIGHLIGHTHome to several parks and green spaces, which are popular among locals and visitors alike. 
LOCATIONHighfield Country Park, Levenshulme, Manchester, M19 2RY
HOW TO GET THEREYou can take public transportation to Levenshulme and then walk or bike the rest of the way. 

Highfield Country Park is a short distance from Levenshulme train station. 

If you’re driving, there’s limited parking available near the lake, so be sure to arrive early to snag a spot.

Are you ready for an adventure? Get off the beaten path and discover the hidden gem that is the Secret Lake at Levenshulme! This place is a true treasure, tucked away from the main road and waiting for you to uncover its splendour.

As its name suggests, it’s a well-kept secret that only a select few know about, making it the perfect spot for an exclusive and secluded swim. 

But it’s not just the swim that’s worth the trip here. The surroundings are truly breathtaking—it feels like you’ve been transported to another world!

My advice? Pack a picnic and make a day of it. With no facilities at the lake, you’ll have to come prepared—but trust me that it’s worth the effort!

Local tip: If you’re planning on visiting the Secret Lake at Levenshulme, make sure you bring your walking shoes and your sense of adventure. The path to the lake can be a bit tricky, but trust us, the journey is worth it. 

Plus, once you’re there, you’ll feel like you’ve discovered a secret paradise.

2. The “secret beach” at Gaddings Dam, Todmorden

From lezgoexploring

HIGHLIGHTThe beach is surrounded by beautiful countryside and has stunning views of the surrounding hills. 

The water is crystal-clear and perfect for swimming on a hot summer day.
LOCATIONGaddings Dam, Todmorden, OL14 7NT
HOW TO GET THEREYou can take the train to Todmorden train station and then either walk or take a taxi to Gaddings Dam. 

Alternatively, you can drive to the nearby parking lot and then hike down to the beach. 

The hike is steep and rocky, so wear appropriate footwear and bring plenty of water.

Gaddings Dam (Gaddings Dam)  is a local favourite and for good reason! It’s the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy crystal clear waters and stunning views of the countryside. 

Imagine yourself lounging on a pebble beach, feeling the sun on your face, and the cool waters lapping at your feet. No wonder it’s one of the best spots for wild swimming in the UK!

The best part? It’s a secret spot that’s not well-known to tourists, so you’ll feel like a bit of a spy as you make your way to this hidden gem. 

But keep in mind that the swimming temperatures here can get rather cold even in the summer due to the high altitude! If you’re not used to cold exposure, better wear a wetsuit or skip swimming altogether.

Just be aware that getting to the beach requires a bit of a hike, so wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water. But trust me, the journey is well worth it!

Local tip: The path can be slippery, so wear appropriate footwear. Also, be mindful of the weather, as the beach can be dangerous during high tide or bad weather conditions.

3. The Lumb Falls near Hebden Bridge

The Lumb Falls near Hebden Bridge's Homepage
Image by Matt Wells via Flickr
HIGHLIGHTLumb Falls is a beautiful and secluded waterfall located in a wooded valley near Hebden Bridge. 

The falls are around 30 ft high and cascade into a deep pool surrounded by large boulders.
LOCATIONNear Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire
HOW TO GET THEREFrom Hebden Bridge, head north on the A646 towards Keighley. After approximately 1.5 miles, turn left onto Lumb Bank Lane, and continue for about half a mile. 

The falls are located on private land, but there is a public footpath that provides access.

Lumb Hole Falls is one of the top destinations for nature explorers and wild swimmers – and for good reason! It’s a breathtaking place that looks like it jumped from a fantasy novel.

As you embark on your journey through the woods, you’ll feel like you’re on a secret mission to uncover something truly special. 

And when you arrive, you’ll be transported to a fairy tale world, with the falls cascading over a series of rocks, creating a mesmerising natural display that’s both peaceful and awe-inspiring.

Locals love jumping off the falls and into the waters during summer to escape from the heat. Why not try it out when you’re there? 

The journey to Lumb falls is no walk in the park, so make sure you come prepared with comfortable shoes and plenty of water. But trust us, the trek is worth it. You’ll feel like you’re on an adventure, discovering one of the area’s best-kept secrets.

Once you reach the falls, the tranquillity of the area will wash over you. It’s the perfect place to escape the chaos of daily life (except on scorchingly hot days) and just bask in the beauty of nature.

Local tip: Avoid climbing on the rocks around the pool and don’t swim during high water periods, as the current can be strong. 

Also, there are no facilities or shops nearby, so bring food, water, and other supplies with you. Lastly, be respectful of the private property and leave no trace behind.

4. The scenic destination at Waterswallows Quarry

From soup_sheffieldoutdoorplungers

HIGHLIGHTHome to a variety of wildlife, including birds, butterflies, and rare plants. 
LOCATIONWaterswallows Quarry, near Buxton, Derbyshire
HOW TO GET THEREFrom Buxton, head southeast on the A6 towards Bakewell. After approximately 1.5 miles, turn left onto the B5059 (signposted for Tideswell and Millers Dale). 

Continue for about 2 miles until you reach Waterswallows Lane, then turn left and follow the lane until you reach the quarry. There is a small car park available.

This place is straight out of a fantasy novel, with towering rocks that look like they were plucked straight from the pages of Middle-earth.

Whether you’re a hiking enthusiast or just looking for a fun day out swimming, Waterswallows Quarry has got you covered. The surrounding woodland is so beautiful, it’s like walking into a fairytale. 

Well, the lake surely looks enchanting, with its clear waters and underwater aquatic trees. This setting is perfect for those who like diving deep!

As you explore the quarry, you’ll feel like a real-life Indiana Jones, discovering amazing rock formations and fossils that will make your jaw drop. Just don’t let any boulders come crashing down on you – there’s no one here to rescue you!

For the more daring among us, rock climbing is a must-try activity at the quarry. If you’re feeling brave, you can even try to climb the legendary “Mount Doom” – just make sure you have a ring to throw into the fiery pit at the top! (Okay, maybe not that last part.)

So come on, grab your hiking boots and your sense of adventure, and get ready to rock and roll at Waterswallows Quarry! You won’t regret it — unless you forget to bring snacks.

Local tip: Take care when walking near the quarry edge and follow any warning signs or barriers. Additionally, be respectful of the natural environment and wildlife by not leaving any litter behind.

5. The serene escape at Pickmere Lake in Cheshire


HIGHLIGHTA popular spot for fishing, picnics, and relaxing walks. 

Visitors can enjoy the peaceful scenery and watch the wildlife, including ducks, swans, and kingfishers. 

There is also a small cafe located near the lake.
LOCATIONPickmere Lake, near Knutsford, Cheshire
HOW TO GET THEREFrom Knutsford, head east on the A50 towards Lymm. After approximately 2 miles, turn right onto Pickmere Lane. 

Continue for about half a mile until you reach Pickmere Lane Car Park on your left-hand side. 

The lake is a short walk from the car park.

This place has got it all, folks. From leisurely strolls to picnics, this is the ultimate spot for swimming, unwinding, and enjoying the stunning surroundings.

Pickmere Lake is also a popular spot for training athletes and people who like wild swimming. Some even take advantage of the cold waters to practise strengthening their bodies, like using the Wim Hof method.

Now, if you’re not feeling like a daredevil, then why not hire a boat and take a ride around the lake? 

It’s the perfect opportunity to get up close and personal with the local wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for those sneaky ducks and geese, they’re always up to something!

Finally, let’s not forget about the wildflowers. If you visit during spring or summer, you’ll be greeted with an explosion of colour as the vibrant flowers bloom around the lake. It’s like walking into a fairy tale!

Local tip: If you’re planning to fish, make sure you have a valid permit and follow any local fishing regulations. Additionally, be mindful of the wildlife and avoid feeding the birds, as this can cause health problems for them. 

Finally, don’t forget to bring insect repellent, especially during the summer months.

6. The natural haven at Urmston Meadows

From rowlesdownhill

HIGHLIGHTA popular spot for walking, birdwatching, and picnics. Visitors can enjoy the scenic views of the river, woodlands, and meadows. 

The meadows are home to a variety of wildlife, including foxes, rabbits, and various bird species.
LOCATIONUrmston Meadows, Urmston, Greater Manchester
HOW TO GET THEREFrom Urmston town centre, head east on Crofts Bank Road. After approximately 0.5 miles, turn left onto Railway Road. 

Continue for about 0.3 miles until you reach Urmston Meadows on your right-hand side. There is a small car park available.

If you’re in dire need of some fresh air and a break from the concrete jungle, then Urmston Meadows is the perfect getaway. This hidden treasure is just a hop, skip and a jump away from the city centre, but feels like a world away.

As you wander through the meadows, you’ll be treated to a feast for the senses, from the chirping of birds to the rustling of leaves in the gentle breeze. And who knows, you might even spot a rare species or two if you’re lucky!

But the real star of the show is the stunning natural beauty that surrounds you. With plenty of benches and picnic tables scattered throughout, Urmston Meadows is the ideal spot for a leisurely picnic or a moment of peaceful reflection. 

Who knows, you might even discover a new favourite spot for your daily dose of Vitamin N (that’s Nature, folks!).

Local tip: Bring binoculars and a camera to fully appreciate the wildlife and scenery. Also, be aware of the river’s strong currents and avoid swimming or paddling during these instances. 

Lastly, respect the natural environment by not littering and keeping noise levels low.

7. The hidden oasis at Chorlton Water Park

From Manchester Evening News

HIGHLIGHTVisitors can enjoy scenic walks around the lake, and there are also several benches and picnic areas available.
LOCATIONChorlton Water Park, Manchester
HOW TO GET THEREFrom Manchester city centre, head south on the A5103 towards Chorlton-cum-Hardy. 

After approximately 3 miles, turn right onto Barlow Moor Road. 

Continue for about 1 mile until you reach the entrance to Chorlton Water Park on your right-hand side. 

There is a small car park available.

This hidden gem is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. It’s also another favourite spot for those who enjoy cold water therapy.

As soon as I arrived, I couldn’t believe my eyes – the lakes and greenery are stunning. I felt like I had been transported to a whole new world. 

And the best part? You can explore the park however you like! Whether you’re into swimming, biking, hiking, or just strolling, there’s something for everyone.

And let’s not forget about the wildlife — I mean, have you ever seen a heron in the wild? Or a dragonfly up close? It’s like something out of a nature documentary! 

Feeling peckish? Set up a picnic under the shade of a tree, or grill up some burgers at one of the barbecue areas. It’s the perfect spot to relax and refuel before heading back out to explore.

Make sure to bring your binoculars and camera to capture all the amazing sights.

Local tip: Be aware of the lake’s deep water and avoid swimming or paddling.

8. The vibrant hub at Dock 9, Salford Quays

From uswimopenwater

HIGHLIGHTThe area is home to several attractions, including the Lowry Theatre, the Imperial War Museum North, and the MediaCityUK complex. 

Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities, from shopping at the designer outlet stores to attending live shows and events.
LOCATIONDock 9, Salford Quays, Greater Manchester
HOW TO GET THEREFrom Manchester city centre, head west on the A56 towards Salford. After approximately 2 miles, turn left onto Broadway. 

Continue for about 0.3 miles until you reach the entrance to Dock 9 on your right-hand side. 

There are several car parks available in the area, and the nearest tram stop is Exchange Quay.

This vibrant waterfront location in Salford Quays is bursting at the seams with exciting activities and attractions that are sure to tickle your fancy.

One such attraction is Dock 9, home to Uswim, a company that offers open water swimming courses.

You can also rent a paddleboard and explore the waters yourself. It’s a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the beautiful scenery!

But with all the bustling activity around the dock, I understand that many people are worried about the water quality. 

The good news is that the water in the quays is circulated via an aeration system. Plus, its quality is tested by aquatic science company, Apem.

Finally, if you’re feeling peckish, Dock 9 has got you covered with a plethora of dining options that will tantalise your taste buds. From classic pub grub to exotic international cuisine, the restaurants, cafes, and bars here have something for everyone.

Local tip: Although Uswim doesn’t enforce a wetsuit policy even during winter, I recommend wearing one, especially if you’re not used to the cold!

9. The nature paradise at Sale Water Park

From monicasphotographs

HIGHLIGHTThe park features a large lake, surrounded by woodlands and meadows. It’s a popular spot for walking, cycling, and birdwatching. 

There are several trails around the lake, as well as a play area for children. 

Visitors can also enjoy watersports such as kayaking and paddleboarding.
LOCATIONSale Water Park, Rifle Rd, Sale M33 2LX, United Kingdom
HOW TO GET THEREFrom Manchester city centre, take the A56 towards Sale. 

Continue for approximately 5 miles until you reach the entrance to Sale Water Park on your left-hand side.

There is a large car park available. The nearest tram stop is Sale Water Park, which is a short walk from the park.

Sale Water Park (sale water park) is a paradise of 158 acres of pure fun and excitement, with a massive 52-acre lake at the heart of it all. Whether you’re a water sports enthusiast or a nature lover, there’s something for everyone here.

In fact, the park is home to Open Swim UK, a company that holds casual swim lessons for adults and kids, teaching them open water swimming safety and appreciation. Swim sessions are available all year round, but the number of sessions may vary.

Do note that swimming in Sale Water Park is only allowed during specified times. So, if you want to swim here, it’s best to attend the organised swimming sessions.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, grab a kayak or a windsurfing board and hit the lake for some high-octane thrills.

And if you need a break from all the action, why not relax with a picnic in one of the designated areas? Or grab a coffee and a snack from the onsite café, and soak in the stunning scenery!

Local tip: Bring binoculars and a camera to fully appreciate the wildlife, including a variety of bird species such as swans and ducks. Wear comfortable walking shoes or boots as the trails can be muddy and uneven.

10. The tranquil place at Boundary Water Park in Cheshire

— From kathrynashcroft

HIGHLIGHTThere are several trails around the lake, as well as a play area for children. 

Visitors can also hire rowing boats to explore the lake.
LOCATIONBoundary Water Park, Holmes Chapel Road, Somerford, Congleton, Cheshire, CW12 4SU
HOW TO GET THEREFrom Manchester city centre, take the M60 southbound towards Stockport. At junction 1, take the A5145 exit towards Cheadle. 

Continue for approximately 6 miles until you reach the A34. Take the A34 southbound towards Congleton. 

Continue for approximately 11 miles until you reach Boundary Water Park on your left-hand side. There is a large car park available.

This hidden gem is one of the most tranquil and picturesque spots in Cheshire, with a warm and shallow lake that’s perfect for a refreshing swim. 

And don’t worry if you’re not an experienced swimmer – sessions are led by qualified coaches who will help you get the hang of it in no time.

But the fun doesn’t stop there – Boundary Water Park is also known for its relaxed family atmosphere. It’s a great place to bring the kids for an afternoon of swimming and playing in the sun. 

Plus, with free parking, changing facilities, and even wetsuit hire available for just £5, it’s an affordable day out for the whole family.

Swimming sessions run on Thursdays from 5:30pm until 8pm, and Sundays from 1pm until 3pm. Since it has great facilities, all you need to do is pack your swimsuit and head on over to Boundary Water Park for a day of fun in the sun!

Local tip: Bring fishing gear if you’re planning to fish in the lake. Wear comfortable walking shoes or boots as the trails can be muddy and uneven. 

Additionally, there are several picnic areas in the park, so it’s a great spot for a picnic or a BBQ. Finally, be aware of the lake’s deep water and avoid swimming or paddling.

FAQs about Lakes and Places to Swim Near Manchester

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