Cold water therapy in beautiful surroundings
For secret swim spots you can’t beat the coast of Exmoor in North Devon and West Somerset, where you’ll find hidden coves home to tall cliffs, temptingly clear waters and even a shipwreck or two.
Crescent-shaped Broad Sands Beach, reachable only down a flight of steep steps, is one of my favourite places in England – and even on earth – to go for a dip. It’s closed until June 2021, so in the meantime try the lovely sweep of sand at Hele Beach, nearby. Further along the coast is Tunnels Beach, where a huge and glittering rock pool appears at low tide. And Rapparee Cove, where the 1796 shipwreck of the London lies somewhere in the depths, is a secluded spot for a swim in the turquoise waters that make this part of the coast so special – on a sunny day it’s hard to believe you’re still in England.
Don’t forget that Britain’s smaller islands – all 4,400 of them – have their own slices of coast. The Isle of Wight may only be 13 miles wide, but it has more than its fair share of special swim spots. Head to Shanklin Chine Beach for a morning paddle, followed by lunch at the charming Fisherman’s Cottage pub, right on the beach. And if you want to swim in regal company, visit Osborne House Beach. "We have quite a charming beach to ourselves," Queen Victoria wrote in 1845 of this tiny sandy bay, which was once her private holiday spot. Osborne House is now an English Heritage site, but it’s well worth the £13 entrance fee to spend a lazy day dipping in the waters where the queen once bathed.