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Loch Leven, Wild Swimming Spot in Scotland

Amazing locations for wild swimming in Scotland aren’t hard to come by, with the country offering showstopping lochs, waterfalls and natural pools in abundance!

This handy guide features hand-picked spots for outdoor swimming in Scotland for you to try on your next trip, from those tucked away in remote woodland to those within reach of cities.

Unleash your inner adventurer at one of these 14 best wild swimming Scotland spots…

Wild swimming in Inverness and the Highlands

1. Fairy Pools, Glenbrittle on the Isle of Skye

Fairy Pools, Glen Brittle

We’re beginning this list of spots for wild swimming in Scotland with the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye. These shimmering pools have made this list due to being open all year round and being a beautiful area for a wild swim.

This stunning spot can be reached by a short walk from the site’s car park or the longer, scenic Fairy Pools Walk. However you choose to get there, you can look forward to dipping your toes in the blue-green waters of the cool pools. The surrounding views are just as extraordinary, with the peaks of Bruach na Frìthe and Sgùrr nan Gillean creating a stunning backdrop.

Nearby, the Glenbrittle Campsite & Café offers a handy WC for you to freshen up in, as well as an array of post-swimming snacks.

GPS coordinates: 57.25034, -6.25829
Nearest car park: Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye IV47 8TA
Suitable for: 

2. Loch Ness, Inverness

Loch Ness

Loch Ness is another spot for outdoor swimming in Scotland that you have to try. It’s a very popular spot for visitors, with the hashtag ‘#lochness‘ being used over 450,000 times on Instagram! It’s easy to see why it’s so popular, as not only does it behold iconic histories, such as Urquhart Castle and the mythical Nessie, but it’s a stunning place for a swim.

The second-longest loch in Scotland is perfect for well-versed swimmers due to its long and deep waters. The annual Monster Swim event takes place here during the summer and is where expert swimmers can partake in a five-kilometre swimming race.

GPS coordinates: 57.32285, -4.42438
Nearest car park: Parking layby Loch Ness, A82, Inverness IV63 6XR
Suitable for: Adults

3. Glen Etive, Glencoe

Glen Etive, Glencoe

Glen Etive is a winding ravine situated near the picturesque village of Glencoe. When plunging into these waters, you’ll feel like you’re in a fairytale, with an array of mountains and natural jacuzzis peppering the landscape.

What makes Glen Etive extra special is the loch it feeds into, where a group of adorable seals and otters await!

Despite its peaceful surroundings, Glen Etive does have very deep parts in it, meaning you should take extra care here. Uncover all you need to know about wild swimming safety by reading our guide to wild swimming in the UK.

GPS coordinates: 56.56664, -5.05008
Nearest car park: Glen Etive Estate Parking, Ballachulish PH49 4JA
Suitable for: 

Wild swimming near Edinburgh

4. Harlaw Reservoir, Pentland Hills Regional Park

Harlaw Reservoir

When it comes to spots for open water swimming in Scotland, you’ll be surprised to find a few surrounding the bustling city of Edinburgh. One of these is the gorgeous Harlaw Reservoir, where wild swims can be enjoyed amidst peaceful surroundings!

With the Pentland Hills Regional Park offering a gorgeous backdrop, you can look forward to swimming amidst spectacular sights. If you want to turn your swim into a watersports affair, the freshwater reservoir is also great for SUPs and kayaking.

GPS coordinates: 55.87023, -3.30914
Nearest car park: Harlaw Car Park, Balerno, EH14 7AS
Suitable for: 

5. Threipmuir Reservoir, Pentland Hills Regional Park

Threipmuir Reservoir

Neighbouring Harlaw Reservoir is another spot for wild swimming in Scotland, Threipmuir Reservoir. This body of water is much bigger in size compared to its neighbour, with a capacity of 2,359 million litres!

Another great Scottish swimming area for families, Threipmuir Reservoir isn’t too deep and is also unusually warm due to having large amounts of peat. So, you can easily enjoy a relaxing swim here.

However, swimming in both Threipmuir Reservoir and Harlaw Reservoir should be avoided during angling season. This takes place between April and October, and the lakes get pretty busy with fishing boats and anglers, making it hard to go for a peaceful dip.

GPS coordinates: 55.862, -3.31768
Nearest car park: Threipmuir Reservoir Car Park, Mansfield Rd, Balerno, EH14 7JT
Suitable for: 

6. Harperrig Reservoir, West Lothian

Harperrig Reservoir

Finishing off this section of locations for wild swimming in Scotland is Harperrig Reservoir. The scenic water stretches over six kilometres and offers plenty of shallow areas for you to paddle in. Due to the reservoir being part of the Cairns Farm Estate, it also makes for a quiet area for a dip.

The reservoir, despite its natural appearance, is actually man-made. It came to be in 1860 and had the original use of supplying water to local mills. Nowadays, experienced swimmers can brave its waters, all the while enjoying the rural scenery and distant sight of Cairns Castle.

GPS coordinates: 55.83343, -3.44521
Nearest car park: Little Vantage car park, Unnamed Road, Kirknewton, EH27 8DJ
Suitable for: 

Wild swimming in Aberdeenshire

7. Linn Falls, Aberlour

Linn Falls

The Linn Falls are situated a stone’s throw away from Aberlour and are a great place for open water swimming in Scotland. You can reach these gorgeous cascades and their pools by walking from the village towards Aberlour Distillery. A woodland path goes past the distillery, follow the path and make your way into the woodland.

Continue along the woodland trail, with the Spey River flowing to your right. Soon you’ll come across the Linn Falls clearing, and will be met with thunderous sounds of the waterfall! The cascade will come into view and you’ll be in awe; it has to be amidst the most beautiful of the UK waterfalls.

The pool is pretty shallow, making for a family-friendly spot for a dip. A couple of benches rest nearby, too, so you can enjoy a post-swim sit-down amongst the woodland surroundings.

GPS coordinates: 57.46117, -3.22614
Nearest car park: Fiddich Park & Ben Aigan Car Park, A95, Aberlour AB38 9RR
Suitable for:

8. Knockburn Loch, Banchory

Knockburn Loch

If you’re new to wild swimming in Scotland, Knockburn Loch is the place to visit! It’s a purpose-built loch with a relatively shallow depth of 1.5 metres, making it ideal for families.

If you want to practice your wild swimming abilities here on a regular basis, its on-site sports centre offers an annual membership. Alternatively, you can purchase a one-off day pass.

The loch offers several swimming loops between 400-800 metres. The large space means there are many opportunities to master open water swimming before trying the harder wild swimming spots in Scotland.

GPS coordinates: 57.01214, -2.49052
Nearest car park: On-site parking
Suitable for: 

Wild swimming in Perthshire

9. Castlehill Reservoir, Glendevon

Castlehill Reservoir

Surrounded by the Ochil Hills in Perthshire is this amazing Scotland wild swimming spot of Castlehill Reservoir. You can reach the winding reservoir from the nearby car park or via the circular walks that pass by.

It’s a wonderful place for a swim, however, due to its depth of 98 feet, it should only be tackled by experienced wild swimmers. While swimming here, you can look forward to paddling in the glistening waters while enjoying the sights of the dramatic dam and surrounding farmland.

GPS coordinates: 56.20886, -3.61184
Nearest car park: Castlehill Reservoir Parking, A823, Dollar, FK14 7LA
Suitable for: 

10. Loch Leven, Kinross

Loch Leven

In this wild swimming in Scotland guide, Loch Leven is one of the most stunning sights! This 13.3km² loch is surprisingly safe, despite its imposing size. Its shallow parts provide a great place for beginners to paddle the day away.

The loch is equally as popular as it is iconic, attracting wild swimming groups from all over the country. One notable swimming group is the Loch Leven (Glencoe) Open Water Swimmers; if you’re a beginner, why not join them for a swim?

One thing to be aware of when swimming in Loch Leven is that it contains a large number of blue-green algae, so please steer clear of these!

GPS coordinates: 56.19663, -3.3764
Nearest car park: Loch Leven car park, Loch Leven Heritage Trail, Kinross, KY13 8UF
Suitable for:

Wild swimming in Loch Lomond

11. Milarrochy Bay, Loch Lomond

Milarrochy Bay

Whilst Loch Lomond can count as a spot for wild swimming in Scotland on its own, it’s so large that it’s best to explore it in parts! Milarrochy Bay takes up part of the 71 km² loch’s eastern shore and is an idyllic place for an open water paddle.

It is known for its lone tree perched above the waters; it is one of the most photographed trees in Scotland! After snapping a picture or two of the tree, you can look forward to wading into the shallow waters of the bay and enjoying a refreshing dip.

Afterwards, be sure to head to the close-by St Mocha Coffee Shop in Balmaha for a delicious treat.

GPS coordinates: 56.09933, -4.56248
Nearest car park: Conic Hill Car Park, Balmaha, Glasgow, G63 0JQ
Suitable for:

12. Falls of Falloch, Stirling

Falls of Falloch

Another natural wonder in the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, the Falls of Falloch is a charming spot for outdoor swimming in Scotland. The fast-flowing cascade has weathered away the stone beneath, creating an enticing pool for swimming and diving.

The swimming spot can be reached by a short walk that begins at the nearby car park and takes you through trees, where you can enjoy glimpses of the River Falloch. Turn right at a junction and venture downhill to the edge of the river.A footbridge awaits here, cross this to reach the stunning falls!

After paddling in the cool waters, be sure to settle down on the nearby picnic benches and soak up the calming sounds of the waterfall.

GPS coordinates: 56.35007, -4.69296
Nearest car park: Car Park, Stirling, Crianlarich, FK20 8RX
Suitable for: 

13. Loch Ard, Stirling

Loch Ard

Another astounding spot for wild swimming in Scotland is Loch Ard, located within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Loch Ard benefits from shallow areas, making it perfect for beginners and families. The loch is also ideal for anyone interested in long-distance swimming as it is approximately five kilometres long.

There are multiple entry points to choose from, however, the best way to access the loch is via Go Country Adventure. Here you can pick up last-minute swimming gear before venturing southward to the glimmering loch for a scenic swim!

GPS coordinates:56.18556, -4.47453
Nearest car park: Kinlochard Car Park, Stirling, FK8 3TW
Suitable for:

14. Inversnaid Waterfall, Loch Lomond

Inversnaid Falls

A true Scottish hidden gem, Inversnaid Waterfall is a magical place for a spot of wild swimming in Scotland! This stunning cascade rests moments away from Loch Lomond and is the perfect spot for diving.

An enchanting sight, the waterfall cascades into Loch Lomond.  You can reach the waterfall by venturing a short distance from the hamlet of Inversnaid. Once you’ve arrived at the waterfall, look forward to diving into the depths of its pool and paddling about in this quiet, tucked-away spot.

GPS coordinates: 56.24785, -4.68796
Nearest car park: Inversnaid Upper Car Park, Stirling Fk8 3TU
Suitable for:

Wild Swimming in Scotland Map

Are you inspired by these spots for open water swimming in Scotland? Make sure you have a special base to experience these from by booking one of these Scotland Holiday Cottages! Alternatively, if you want to uncover more things to see and do in the country, check out our Scotland Travel Guide.

Image Credits: Nigel CorbyCC BY-SA 2.0; Paul McIlroyCC BY-SA 2.0

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