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Wild Swimming Spots in Dorset

With the Jurassic Coast quite literally on our doorsteps, it offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy some wild swimming in both the warmer months and for the more adventurous - in the winter months. But where exactly are the best, and safest, locations to enjoy open swimming? We’ve compiled a list of all Dorset's best wild swimming spots!

Sturminster Newton is a rural and peaceful small town in Dorset, with the River Stour running straight through it - the longest river in Dorset. This provides multiple prime wild swimming spots throughout, we have found the two best spots on the River Stour to go for your swim.

The River Frome runs 30 miles long and is navigable upstream from Poole Harbour to as far as Wareham. There are a couple ideal wild water swimming spots situated along this river!

Please make sure to remember yourself and others' safety when visiting these open water swimming spots!

colber bridge

Colber Bridge - Near Sturminster Newton

The Colber Bridge is surrounded by grassy meadows, giving swimmers a tranquil setting to backdrop their activity. The locals suggest that more extensive swims can be enjoyed upstream at Bather's Island, which used to be the location of a river swimming club. The banks are also the perfect spot for nature-watching, being home to snipe, reed warblers, and kingfishers, dragonflies, and butterflies.

Location: Sturminster Newton DT10 1EG

Parking: Car park nearby - Church St Car Park, DT10 1DB

Photo credits to British Listed Buildings, view here.

fiddleford

Fiddleford Manor - Near Sturminster Newton

Nestled on the shores of a historic manor house constructed in the 1300s, Fiddleford Manor features a tranquil millpond. Three ancient sluice gates channel the water, and during the summer, it becomes a lovely warm swimming spot. This is a fantastic hidden gem in the heart of old Wessex!

Location: Calf Cl Ln, Sturminster Newton DT10 2BX

Parking: Parking onsite

Photo credits to Mark Parris Photography, view here.

Eye bridge

Eye Bridge - Wimborne Minster

Dorset's River Stour continues through Eye Bridge in Wimborne Minster, providing more prime opportunities for wild swimming to those who enjoy! At this spot, the River Stour flows south-east and begins to flow through wider passages, giving swimmers more space. The river runs beneath The Eye Bridge where you’ll find beachy spots ahead, perfect for swimming. 

Location: Cowgrove Rd, Wimborne BH21 4EL

Parking: Nearby car park at 553 Cowgrove Rd

Photo credits to Stourvalleyway, view here.

moreton ford

Moreton Ford - River Frome

Moreton Ford along River Frome is the perfect family wild swimming spot! If you're looking to take your family for an outdoor swim, are dipping your toes into the world of wild swimming or are a beginner - then this shallow spot is ideal! 

Location: 2 The St, Moreton, Dorchester DT2 8RJ

Parking: Free parking in Moreton car park

Photo credits to Geograph, view here.

river frome

Wareham Bridge - The River Frome

Especially on Summer days, joining the River Ford at Wareham Bridge is a very popular spot for swimmers! With this location being a prime spot for a picnic on the riverbank, many will hop in for a swim after their picnic.

Remember to be mindful of passing boats, canoes and even families of ducks! But make sure to not jump into the water from the bridge itself as it is not the deepest spot.

Location: River Cres, Frome Whitfield, Wareham, Dorchester DT1 1LW

Parking: Streche Road Car Park nearby, charges apply

Photo credits to Sabre, view here.

cutt mill

Cutt Mill - Near Hinton St Mary

Just a short distance upstream from the charming villages of Sturminster Marshall and Hinton St Mary rests the remnants of Cutt Mill. Enthusiastic wild swimmers cherish this peaceful location, drawn to its gentle currents and varied depths.

With roots tracing back to Saxon era, the mill is documented in the Domesday Book, serving as the residence for numerous generations of millers and bakers until the Second World War. Its serene ambiance attracts a wealth of wildlife, welcoming common sandpipers and sedge warblers particularly in the summer season.

Location: Cutt Mill Ln, Sturminster Newton, DT10 1NG

Parking: Burton Street Car Park, 7 min drive from Cutt Mill (Station Road Car Park & Church Street Car Park are 8 min drive)

Photo credits to S-HAA, view here.

white mill

White Mill - Sturminster Marshall

White Mill, an 18th-century corn mill retired from operation, graces the outskirts of Sturminster Marshall under the care of the National Trust.

With a rich historical heritage, this structure proudly preserves many of its original elements, including the elm and applewood machinery. Downstream lies the charming White Mill Bridge adorned with decorative arches, believed to have stood since the 12th Century, making it a contender for the oldest bridge site in Dorset.

This tranquil stretch of the River Stour beckons wild swimmers with its refreshing waters, offering adventurous souls the opportunity to journey as far as Eye Bridge. Along the way, discover quaint countryside pubs, but ensure you have willing companions waiting on the riverbank with towels and dry clothes.

Location: Mill Ln, Sturminster Marshall, Wimborne Minster, BH21 4BX

Parking: National Trust Car Park is situated next to White Mill

Photo credits to Geograph, view here.

Lake Pier

Lake Pier - Poole Harbour

Poole Harbour is the self-proclaimed second largest natural harbour in the world, and we are lucky to have right here in Dorset! The harbour itself can be pretty busy with boats and with Sunseeker being situated very nearby, but heading more towards Rockley Point can be a great spot for wild swimming! 

Near the Ham Common nature reserve, Lake Pier is tucked away along the shoreline and is a Poole favourite for swimming. Many swimmers prefer to take a dip in the less bustling waters on either side of the pier, often migrating westward to the peaceful retreats of Rockley Point. This hidden gem in Poole Harbour is especially a favourite spot to watch a vibrant sunrise or catch some sun in the Summer months.

Location: 99 Lake Dr, Poole BH15 4LR

Parking: Parking onsite

Photo credits from FishyFishy, view here.

FAQs

Where is it safe to swim in Dorset?

All of the above mentioned spots are very safe and researched; Sturminster Newton - Colber Bridge, Fiddleford Manor; River Stour continues through Eye Bridge in Wimborne Minster; The River Frome - Moreton Ford; Wareham Bridge; Lake Bridge at Poole Harbour.

Is it safe to swim under Durdle Door?

Conditions at Durdle Door can take a drastic turn and it is advised against.

Is it safe to swim in the sea at Dorset beaches?

Yes, Dorset beaches are considered to be very safe, depending on weather conditions - this is also a great option for wild swimming.

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