Bray Lake
Live like a local

Wild swimming in Berkshire

July 08, 2022

With its warm grassy banks and waters that shimmer like gold at sunrise, Berkshire is a beautiful place to take a dip. Co-authors of Outdoor Swimming London, John and Lola, share their advice and the wonders of wild swimming in Berkshire.

Wild swimming experts

John Weller and Lola Culsán began wild swimming in the River Thames in Surrey around 10 years ago. Inspired by the clear refreshing water, they sought out other places to swim in the wild, and gathered 140 recommendations of wild swims and lidos within an hour’s drive from London including a chapter on Berkshire.

Bray Lake
Image courtesy of John Weller and Lola Culsan
Swimmer in Bray Lake

Connect with nature

The refreshing sensation of plunging into a lake on a summer afternoon helps you disconnect from daily stresses. With the breeze rustling the trees and only the odd heron for company, it’s possible to focus on the moment and embrace the freedom. “Swimming beneath an endless expanse of sky bolsters dopamine and increases the release of endorphins,” John explains, describing how cold water swimming eases depression and anxiety. 

A healthy reset

Taking a dip in a river at dusk with wispy clouds overhead and the gentle ripples of the water as your melody is a great mind reboot, but also has profound physical health benefits. According to John, “Regular cold water swimming calms inflammation. Adapting your body to cold stress can alleviate aches and pains, high blood pressure and arthritis.”

Ducks at Bray Lake
Bray Lake
Image courtesy of John Weller and Lola Culsan

Where to swim in Berkshire

Framed by weeping willows, 50-acre Bray Lake is ideal for novice outdoor swimmers as a gentle slope guides you into the water and lifeguards are on hand. The water is typically 19°C in summer, attracting swimmers of all shapes, sizes and ages to the loops, which range from 150m/492ft to 1km/0.6 miles. On quieter days, ducks and swans will be your only companions. 

Bray Lake, Monkey Island Lane, Windsor Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 2EB

Top tips for wild swimming

Most swims are trouble free, however John and Lola have plenty of tips for novice swimmers, such as wearing waterproof shoes and avoiding water tainted with blue-green algae. They recommend always swimming with someone else and wearing a bright swim cap so boat operators can spot you. John also adds, “Make sure you know how to get out before you get in, and never jump into water you have not checked for depth and obstructions.”

Bray Lake

Discover more about life on the water in Berkshire in our neighbourhood guide to Marlow, or enjoy a picnic by Hurley Lock during your visit to Coworth Park.

Header image courtesy of John Weller and Lola Culsan

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