Outdoor wild swimming in Northamptonshire

River Nene near Tansor (Photo by Daniel Martin - used with permission)
River Nene near Tansor (Photo by Daniel Martin – used with permission)

I always think Northamptonshire gets forgotten when it comes to outdoor activities. For the first few years I subscribed to Countryfile Magazine I religiously collected, ordered and stored the ten route cards included each month – whilst almost every part of the country was covered, there was not a single route in Northamptonshire!

Whilst Northamptonshire may not have any mountains (or indeed any hills of note), moors or other ‘exciting’ landscapes, I find it a really nice place to walk – peaceful farmland, picturesque villages, hidden woodlands (and more obvious woodland like Salcey Forest just around the corner from me), stately homes, canals and rivers. And it is quiet – you pretty much have the footpaths to yourself once you outside the dog walking perimeter of the villages.

So it was with some excitement that I spotted ‘Northamptonshire’ mentioned in a Google+ post in my outdoor circle – and not just a passing mention… Daniel Martin (his Google+ profile), an extreme athlete with plans to become the first man in history to swim the Atlantic, was describing a stretch of the River Nene near Tansor, Northamptonshire as his favourite place to swim in the world! (you can view the post on Daniel’s site  – you will need to scroll down a bit).

Daniel Martin - swimming near Tansor, Northamptonshire
Daniel Martin – swimming near Tansor, Northamptonshire (Photo by Daniel Martin – used with permission)


It was only last year that I discovered the joys of wild swimming (or in my case wild bobbing about) – after accidentally choosing a hike in Brecon Beacons that was part of Trail Magazine’s series on wild swimming hikes, followed the following day by a dip in a waterfall plunge pool on this brilliant waterfall walk in south Brecon Beacons. I have never felt more alive or in touch with the outdoors than when I was sitting on the bank drying out with my whole body (literally) buzzing from the experience. This year trips have been few and far between, although I did introduce my partner’s daughter to wild swimming in the Tavy Cleeve on Dartmoor, so discovering there is an excellent swimming spot somewhere just down the road from me  means I can have the chance to go for a dip more often. Although he may have been joking, Daniel has invited me to join him for a swim one day – apparently it is more beautiful the colder it gets!!

Me swimming in the Tavy Cleeve, Dartmoor
Me swimming in the Tavy Cleeve, Dartmoor

And it is great to see Northamptonshire get some recognition for outdoor activities.

You can read more about Daniel, his expeditions and his experiences outdoors, on his website, and you can follow him on Google Plus and Twitter (he is using the hashtag #MyFaveSwims for the series on his favourite swimming spots).

Tempted to go hiking in Northamptonshire? Check out the Northamptonshire Round – a route around Northamptonshire including some of the best parts created by a bunch of hikers keen to show off what Northamptonshire has to offer. There are also loads of resources on Google.

(Many thanks to Daniel Martin for permission to use his photos)

7 Replies to “Outdoor wild swimming in Northamptonshire”

  1. A very interesting post. I’ve also felt privileged to live in Northampton all my life. Even where I live now, in Duston, the countryside is mere minutes from my house, even walking!! When I lived in Bugbrooke I used to love escaping to the fields where I was lucky if I saw one other person.

    Swimming is my primary method of relaxing/exercising when I can’t get away to the countryside. It is interesting to discover someone “wild swimming” in the county. One always assumes you have to travel to somewhere like the lake district or the peaks to do such a thing.

    Did you ever see a series that was on BBC4 a few years ago presented by Dr Alice Roberts? It was all about open water swimming. For the life of me I can’t remember what it was called though!!

    1. Hi Andy. If you lived in Bugbrooke then i wondered if you ever swam in the river at the Bell Pool at Flore, and Kisl’ weir – always a favourite of mine when i was a schoolboy.

  2. Thanks for your comment Andy – have not heard about that BBC4 series, will have to see if I can track it down. I was equally surprised to find someone wild swimming regularly in Northamptonshire!

  3. Can you give me directions to this swimming area . I visit someone ill there and need to find somewhere to swim outside – urgently please. thankyou

    1. Hi Jude – sorry for the delayed response (your comment was lost amongst the spam). I am afraid that I do not know the exact location, but if you get in touch with Daniel (social media contact details included in the post) he should be able to help.

      Many thanks,


  4. Due to the recent pandemic our holiday has been cancelled so we are looking at day trips not to far away from home in Northamptonshire . so we can take our two dogs or a swim has they both love the water , It would be great i its not a popular place for visitors so it will be quiet and we will be able to take our dogs of there leads . So on our travels have you come across any were like this?

    1. Sorry Jen – I moved away from Northamptonshire a while back and I cannot think of anywhere suitable off the top of my head.

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