Outdoor, open-water, open-air or wild swimming is great for mind, body and soul and with 45-minute restrictions and closures at many of the region’s indoor pools, more people are, to paraphrase George Michael, going outside to swim.
In and within an hour’s drive of Derbyshire, there are a variety of options for open-air swimming ranging from a lovely outdoor heated pool in Hathersage to lake venues such as Spring Lakes, in Long Eaton, and the Lavender Patch, or Hall Croft Farm, just outside Hilton.
There are also a few nice open-air water parks for kids in the Midlands that cater for families.
So, if you want to channel your inner mermaid, or merman, or simply want to wear a rubber suit and not feel out of place, we’ve put together a list of venues where you can swim in the open.
Let us know of those we’ve missed by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add them to the list when we get a moment.
Spring Lakes Watersports and Leisure Centre, Pasture Lane, Long Eaton
Currently open Tuesday to Sunday for open-water swimming and on bank holidays, Spring Lakes is a good introduction to open-water swimming if you fancy giving it a go.
You can hire a wetsuit, swimming cap and a tow float, there are changing and toilet facilities as well as a wide range of other activities besides open-water swimming. The café is nice too.
There’s plenty of room for competitive swimmers and people who just want to swim leisurely breaststroke and chat. Furthermore you can stay in as long as you like.
The first lake, dubbed Mutiny Bay on training app Strava, is between 450m and 500m per lap depending on how closely you keep to the marker buoys and how much you zig-zag as you swim.
The second lake, only usually open at the weekend, is closer to 1,500m, but it depends on how straight you swim, obviously.
You need to sign a waiver and buy a membership card which is a fiver, Each swim is also a fiver. Hiring a wetsuit is £4, but you don’t have to wear one. Tow floats are £2 to hire and you’ll need a swimming hat which they sell for £10.
The one major drawback is that in high summer there tends to be quite a lot of weed which is unpleasant to swim through.
Hathersage swimming pool, Oddfellows Road, Hathersage, Derbyshire
Open Monday to Sunday, it helps to be a member for priority booking which is online.
The timetable’s a bit complicated to explain so here’s a link you can click on.
You’re in the open air, but the pool is heated and chlorinated. It is to 28 degrees during the summer and open to the public everyday from May 20 to September 10.
Like most pools built in the 1930s, it is 100ft by 33ft rather than the conventional 25m.
Hathersage Parish Council and villagers have modernised the facilities in recent years, replacing the original changing rooms and installing disabled toilets.
Admission is £7 for adults, £6 for the over 65s, disabled swimmers and students, £4for those aged between four and 17 and free for those under four. A family ticket for two adults and two juniors is £20.
Hall Croft Farm, Uttoxeter Road, Hilton
Known as the Lavender Patch, the lake at Hall Croft Farm is used by open-water swimming enthusiasts who swim round a circuit of about 500m. Swimming is run by MVH triathlon club but the lake is also open to non-members.
A lovely lake in a picturesque setting even if there’s no actual lavender around. There are no changing facilities so try to preserve your modesty when you get changed. The nice MVH folk will look after your car keys for you.
It is currently open on Saturday mornings from 10.15am to 11.30 for both MVH members and non-members.
Check out the MVH Facebook page for more details as there are a number of forms to fill in before swimming. You need a brightly coloured swimming hat to swim and you must book online. The club is restricted to 30 swimmers per session.
Midlands Open Water Swim Centre, Kingsbury, Staffordshire
This lake is a 50-minute drive from Derby down the M1 and M42, not far from Tamworth.
The roughly rectangular swim is about 650m but there’s a 350m option too. It’s a beautiful place to swim, the water is clean and there’s lots of room.
It costs £7 per hour-long session or a tenner for two hours though there are seasonal membership options if you want to swim regularly.
There are no changing facilities and you have to pay £20 for insurance which covers you for a year. Swimmers must be 16 or older.
It gets booked up quickly and is open every day except Sunday, according to the Facebook page which currently says there are sessions from 4pm to 8pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays with sessions from 4pm to 7pm on Thursdays and Fridays and from 1pm on 7pm on Saturdays.
However, there are new Saturday sessions and, weather permitting, sessions are on till 8pm so the information on Facebook might be out of date. Give them a ring, they are nice and friendly.
Parking is free and is right next to the lake although there are no changing rooms.
Be careful, it is really tricky to find and there are no signposts. It is easy to miss it completely and if your phone’s not charged you could end up driving round the outskirts of Tamworth for ages and then heading home defeated.
How do I know? I just do. Let us never speak of this again.
Look for a narrow farm track next to a bridge.
David Lloyd, Riverside Road, Pride Park, Derby
The health club on Pride Park has a 20m heated outdoor pool that is open all-year round and a small splash pool for kids.
There is an outdoor bar and sun loungers. Over summer, the outdoor pool is, weather permitting, open from 6am to 9pm from Monday to Friday and from 7am to 7pm on Saturday and Sunday.
David Lloyd is a members-only fitness club although there are often deals available for trial periods.
New Bath Hotel, New Bath Road, Matlock, Derbyshire
This 1930s pool is 100ft long and arguably has the best tasting water of any swimming pool in the UK. It is spring-water fed and so swimmers are splashing around in mineral water filtered through Derbyshire rocks.
It rarely dips below 17 degrees even in the depths of winter. It will feel a lot cooler than a normal swimming pool as a result.
It had been largely the preserve of triathlon club Belper 10:20, but following the New Bath Hotel’s refurbishment, is now open to the public.
Both members and non-members can pre-book though most sessions look like they are for members only. The sessions start on the hour and last 45 minutes, it appears to be open from 9am every day and you can book here.
It’s £10 + 84p booking fee so not cheap and it’s for adults only.
The triathlon club, heroically responsible for the maintenance of the pool over the last few years, also runs a coached session on Thursday evening if you want to try competitive open-water swimming or a triathlon.
It’s from 6pm to 7pm and is open to members and non-members, costing £5 and £7 respectively. Derby Triathlon Club members also get the discount rate if they bring proof. Extra info you need is here.
Barton Marina, Barton under Needwood, Staffordshire
Derby Triathlon Club used to swim at the small lake at Barton Marina on Wednesdays and Saturdays but these sessions are not taking place this year, sadly.
The lake was cleaned up in recent years and was very pleasant.
Nottingham City Open Water Swimming Centre, Colwick Country Park, Nottinghamshire
It’s open all year round so if you love feeling the invigorating power of the cold like that Dutch guy who calls himself the Ice Man or Princess Elsa from Frozen, this is for you.
Currently open Tuesdays to Sundays with beginners sessions, mindfulness dips, early morning, evening and weekend two-hour sessions if you want to swim longer distances.
Mindfulness dips sound good. Cold water has been shown to have a positive impact on people’s mood and mental health – here’s a link to some proper research from the British Medical Journal if you’re interested.
It’s a safe environment with coaches on hand and you have to be a member to swim and have a cap and tow float. It costs £6 per session or £5 for annual affiliate members.
There are no facilities so come ‘beach ready’. Park at the Racecourse Road car park. You can find out more here.
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Stoney Cove, Sapcote Road, Stoney Stanton, Leicestershire
An old quarry that’s a national dive centre, Stoney Cove also welcomes open-water swimmers. The 1,000m circuit is picturesque, the scenery picturesque and there’s a café and restaurant on site.
Being an old quarry, it is deep and quite cold. It can also be a bit of a surprise to see divers swimming beneath you and the sunken car, aircraft cockpit and even a submarine through the clear water.
The showers and changing rooms are great. One-hour swimming sessions cost £6 but you have to register first and book online here.
It used to be possible to swim for several hours so it’s worth asking if this is still available.
Droitwich Spa Lido, Worcestershire
This is one of the UK’s last open-air saltwater swimming pools so is something of a novelty. It is an 80-minute drive from Derby. There is a 40m pool, a wet play area with water canons and fountains for children. It is open between May and September 3.
It’s all cashless now and you have to turn up ‘beach ready’. For family sessions, groups get their own lane or swimming area. Best call up for details.
Admission costs £4.60 for an adult lane swim, £3.30 for juniors and the over 60s, and a family group swim is £16 for four people though can can have one or two more for an additional charge. Parking charges apply.
Bosworth Water Park, Market Bosworth, Warwickshire
Derby is a long way from the seaside but the next-best thing is just a 45-minute drive away.
Bosworth Water Park has golden sand and clear waters for swimming. Entry is free but visitors have to pay to park.
There is also a cafe, a pirate adventure playground, a crazy golf course, countryside walks and areas for boating, fishing and canoeing.
There is also plenty of accommodation, including areas for camping and caravanning as well as lakeside log cabins.
Treeton Dyke, off Falconer Lane, Rotherham
A dyke in Rotherham might not sound idyllic but it’s shallow and pleasant.
There are no facilities. It is wild swimming. It’s just a lake. Go with someone who knows the water as there are occasionally motorboats.
Swimming here is controversial and a legal grey area but people have been swimming at Treeton for generations. Get in touch with open-water swimmers in Sheffield for more information.