Best Outdoor Swimming spots in Manchester and Cheshire

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2 open water swimmers in caps and wet suits

Wild swimming has gained in popularity over recent years.  Whilst we know that getting into a freezing cold lake, unsure what's beneath your feet or what you're gulping in, isn't for everyone, the heatlh and wellbeing benefits of open water swimming have been well documented.   There are some really beautiful spots in and around Manchester.  Most are easy to find and with sessions starting at around £7, we think its an affordable activity.   Here's our low-down of the best open water swimming spots across Manchester and neighbouring Cheshire.

Salford Quays

15 The Quays, Salford M50 3SQ

Salford Watersports Centre was cleaned up and created as part of the Olympic Games. Today, it’s a popular Open Water Swimming spot all year round from its base at Dock 8, Salford Quays and the water quality is regulated constantly. It offers supervised swimming, changing rooms, warm showers and professional coaching from Swimming Matters. The current timetable offers sessions on: Thursdays 17:00 – 19:30 (from the 11th April),  Sundays 10:15 – 11:30, Tuesday evenings (from May) and the summer sessions will be on earlier & longer.

Safety cover is provided by the Swimming Matters professional water safety team. They run a varied schedule - intro to open water sessions, fitness sessions, breaststroke to front crawl. You can book coaching sessions from £20pp here.

The Farm Club

Swimmers getting into a lake
The Farm Club

Mere View Farm, Park Ln, Pickmere, Knutsford WA16 0LG

This place is special. It’s a family run venue that’s created a space that brings community and connection together offering some great health and wellbeing benefits. Located in the heart of 300 acres of Cheshire countryside within Mere View Estate, this unique forward thinking place aims to combine experiences, emotions, and activity together.   Whether that’s swimming in the lake, flowing in their yoga studio, exercising on the lawn, bathing in their ice baths, or a journey of holotropic breathing within a community. The Farm also run a series of wellness retreats and day festivals throughout the year.  If you prefer to just sit and contemplate, drop in to the Farm’s café and enjoy a coffee and a slice of cake with a view.

You can book an open water swimming session here or you can mix it up and book a Wake & Shake: yoga, breathwork and lake dip here

Secret Lake

Lake with sunlight on the top and reeds and trees surrounding it
Spotted by Locals

M19 2SS

This wild open water swimming urban oasis is so secret that it’s labelled on Google maps as ‘Secret Lake’. Don’t let the neighbouring rubbish tip and large industrial estate neighbours deter you. The lake was dredged by the local community over 7 years ago and they’re still actively invested, organising regular litter picking sessions to keep the area clean.  Whilst swimming isn’t officially managed here, you’ll find loyal open water swimmers here all year round.  The water has spawned an abundance of wildlife with reporting’s of voles, kingfishers, swans, and a plethora of wildflowers growing around the banks of the lake.

You can access the lake from either the Fallowfield Loop, or from a footpath on Sandfold Lane, though the Fallowfield Loop approach.

You can follow and join the Levenshulme Secret Lake community group on Facebook here, it’s got over 3000 members!

Manley Mere

person open water swimming in lake with black cap on
Tom Dils

Manley Ln, Frodsham WA6 0PE

Manley Mere is a family run aqua park in Cheshire, close to Frodsham. Running for 40 years, and once a dairy farm, the land has been converted into a popular lake, aqua park, and fabulously fun adventure trail nestled in amongst 18 acres of trees and woodland.  Open Water swimming is managed by NOWCA – the UK's largest network of open water swimming venues – and you can join for £15 per year here.  NOWCA members don’t need to prebook, just turn up and pay as you go.

Open Water swimming runs daily and offers three swimming courses – 250m, 500m and 750m. Individual swim sessions are £7 and a block of 10 is £65.  Like most open water swimming, you must have a swim cap and the minimum age for swimming is 8 years with an adult.

You can book a 2 hour open water swim workshop and 1 hour swim group swim coaching both run by Ina Morris here

Canoes, kayaks and paddleboards can also be hired here

Hathersage Swimming Pool

open swimming pool with swimmers and rainbow in the sky against a dark grey cloud
Hathersage swimming pool

Oddfellows Rd, Hathersage, Hope Valley S32 1DU

This is more of a heated lido than wild swimming but special nonetheless because of its heritage and unique spot located in the Derbyshire Dales.  Hathersage swimming pool opened in 1936, as a part of the King George Fifth Memorial Field and funded by a Sheffield entrepreneur, George Lawrence, a manufacturer of razor blades. At that time, it included a larger plot including tennis courts, band stand, playing field, a sand pit, and a 100ft. by 50ft. paddling pool, which is now, sadly long gone.  Today, it’s a wonderful outdoor pool which runs a variety of adult, junior, family, and aerobic sessions daily.  You can also purchase a season ticket (Out of Area Residents is £282, Residents £205.)

You can take a look at the full swimming timetable here. Booking enquiries can be made here

Wildshore Delamere

Large Blue Inflatabale in the middle of a lake
Wildshore Delamere

Delamere Lake Sailing & Holiday Park, Chester Road (A556), Oakmere, Northwich, CW8 2JL

Wildshore is a family focused watersports and aqua park, nestled next to a beautiful lake in Delamere, Cheshire. It offers a number of unique, dynamic and adrenaline-charged outdoor activities including a brand new and world first Aqua Chimp, Aqua Park, Wakeboarding, Stand Up Paddleboarding and Open Water Swimming. Open Water Swimming at Wild Shore Delamere is a safe and secure environment to practice open water swimming. With safety instructors on SUP boards and rest pontoons half way round each course, you’ll feel looked after. They cater for beginners to the sport to endurance triathlons and operate a 400m and 750m loop with safety kayak/SUP and further staff supervision from shore.

The minimum age is 13+ and you need to book in advance as they don’t accommodate walk-in’s.  ​Current session times are: Wednesday: 5pm to 7pm, Saturday: 10am to 12pm and Sunday: 5pm to 7pm.

Both swim caps and tow floats are mandatory, and the sessions are £7 per person per swim.

Hatchmere Lake

Lake and trees
Cheshire Wildlife Trust

Norley, Frodsham, Cheshire WA6 6NY

The mere can be viewed from Delamere Road (by The Carriers Inn) and the remainder of the reserve is accessed via a footpath off Ashton Road in the village, just as you enter the forest.

Hatchmere is one of a series of lakes and peatlands formed by the glacial action at the end of the last Ice Age, and part of the Northwest Midlands Meres and Mosses Ramsar site, a wetland site of international importance.  There isn’t any official wild swimming at the lake but it is relatively shallow. A grassy area next to the B road leads to small reed-lined bays and shallows. The lake deepens to about 3m with plenty of room for a long swim. Please respectf the fishermen and be extra careful as there are no lifeguards here.

The mere is home to many birds including the beautiful great crested grebe, Reed bunting and willow warbler. Up to 13 species of dragonfly and damselfly have also been recorded on the reserve! The nature reserve includes the surrounding fens, wet woodland and wet heath.