Wild Swimming near Lanhydrock Hotel
The first thing many people imagine when they hear the words ‘wild swimming’ is the sea, and yes, there are an abundance of breathtaking coves and bays dotted all along our stunning stretch of coast that are perfect for a cold dip – but what about the more secret spots that lie inland? Deep, cool rivers meandering gently under canopies of flourishing green, or secluded lakes in hidden glens that wait, still like millponds, for that first dip of a naked toe. There are a few tranquil spots such as these tucked away in the quiet places of our little county, some not too far from our own front door – you just need to know where to look.
River Fowey in Respryn Woods
Respryn Woods can be found near Lanhydrock House, a family home owned by the National Trust since 1953 – and only a short five minute drive from Lanhydrock Hotel. The woods are home to many picturesque paths that run alongside the upper banks of the River Fowey, which provides some of the most idyllic locations for wild swimming.
Heading left out of the Respryn National Trust car park, the first dipping spot is underneath Respryn Bridge (also labelled as a dog bathing area, so an excellent choice if you’re bringing along a four-legged friend.) This location is particularly pretty, as not only are you surrounded in a variety of green shrubs and trees, but gliding through the water underneath the beautiful five-arch medieval bridge, parts of which date back to the 15th century, certainly makes for a memorable swim.
Following the trail down through the woods, there are also various entry points to the river that make for an easy dip, where the banks gently slope to meet the surface of the water, or in some instances give way to tiny beaches from which you can wade out from. A particularly lovely spot is at the bottom of a wild meadow that runs alongside the railway tracks, which you’ll notice on your left as you follow the main path. Enter the meadow through a wooden gate at the bottom of the path, and head down to the water. The river bends at this section, leaving room for a deeper pool of slower moving water against the backdrop of an old stone wall and overhanging sycamore, beech and oak branches, creating the perfect dipping haven.
Cardinham Moor Lakes
Home to some of Cornwall’s most breathtaking inland wild swimming spots, Cardinham Moor is just a 20 minute car journey from Lanhydrock Hotel. Parking in Bellamin’s Tor car park on the A30, it can be a little tricky to imagine such peaceful wilderness on setting off, but the noise and business of the traffic soon falls away once you start heading towards the water.
The closest and first dipping spot you’ll come to (which is clearly visible from the car park) is an old china clay pit, one of about 20 across Bodmin Moor, and now a large and spacious pond with easy access from a gradual shelving entrance. Surrounded by the lush green natural landscape on all sides, it’s easy to feel like you’ve stepped (or swam) into the pages of a storybook, especially in summer, where you may share your dip with humming dragonflies passing lazily over the surface of the water, or even wild ponies coming to drink and cool off in the heat.
A second nearby swimming haven can be found if you head east towards the twin peaks of the old Glynn Valley China Clay Works. A much larger lake sits at the foot of the peaks, previously another china clay pit, and makes for a stunning dip with the dramatic backdrop of the twin peaks rising high from the water level. The vast expanse of the lake is breathtaking as you glide through the water; sparkling and clear in summer, dark and mysterious in winter – both settings equally magical.
Kirkwood Pool and Gold Diggings Quarry
These two swimming spots lie close to one another on the eastern side of Bodmin Moor, and are a slightly longer (but worthwhile!) car journey from Lanhydrock Hotel at 30 minutes. Parking in Minions Heritage Centre car park, follow the circular trail towards and continuing past The Cheesewring. Kirkwood Pool (or Pony Pool) is the first spot you’ll come to for a dip, with easy swimming access where the moor slopes down to beach inlets dotted around the water. Often ponies and cattle come to drink from the water, and at certain times of the year, you may find a waterfall running into the pool, adding to the enchantment of the whole location.
Continuing along the path from Kirkwood Pool and taking the left fork which heads north west, you’ll come to the second beautiful dipping opportunity in this area – Gold Diggings Quarry. Many liken this spot to a natural amphitheatre, being surrounded with high granite cliffs and grassy banks to bask on in the sun after a refreshing swim. There are also a few ledges above the deeper sections of the pool where those seeking more of a thrilling way to enter the water can jump from. However you prefer to bathe, dipping in this quarry is a special kind of Cornish magic not to be missed.
We love being in such a central location here at Lanhdyrock Hotel, making us the perfect spot to use as a base when exploring these hidden countryside gems, tucked away from the more crowded coastal areas. For all you wild swimmers out there looking to dip a toe in some lesser known spots, we’ll be here waiting with the warm towels and hot drinks for when you get back…