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14 best paddle ‘n’ plunge spots

Is there anything that says 'summer' more than messing about on the water? If you're dreaming of lazy days by the riverside and splashing around in the water find the best places to get wet and wild right here.

From wild swimming to watersports Glos, Worcs and the Cotswolds are awash with fabulous places to get some H20 happiness into your life. Read on for the 14 best places to keep cool (and them entertained).

Let’s dive right in …

For wild swimming … try the Tudor Farmhouse Wild Swimming Trail, Clearwell, Forest of Dean.

The Wye Valley is a water-lovers utopia. There are tons of things to do from a paddle on a riverside beach to challenging yourself with a 2km swim (from the A4103 to the A438!) through a cluster of pretty Lugg Meadow fields crossing into nearby Hereford. Tudor Farmhouse has you covered with the expert help of Daniel Start at Wild Swimming who’s put together a special map sharing the best access points and what to expect at each location. You can even order one of their delicious picnic hampers for the trip, pack your swimmers and a towel and you are set. Don’t forget river shoes are really useful at many of the locations.

Also great for wild swimmingThe River Teme, Powick Bridge, Worcs.

Can we tempt you with the Teme?

The Teme meanders through Worcs and has loads of great ‘plunge points’ for wild swimming or picturesque paddling. We love the off-the-beaten track swim near Powick Bridge. Use the car-park off the roundabout then take the path over the bridge onto a little beach. The water isn’t deep but can be fast flowing – so one for confident swimmers. Or head a bit further afield to Ashford Carbonnel. Try standing in the shallows and see how long it takes for little Sticklebacks to come along and nibble your toes (hello, free pedi!)

And did we mention … Lacock Abbey in Chippenham

Lacock swimming (photo: www.wildswimming.co.uk)

Using the glorious Lacock Abbey as your landmark, head east and you’ll find a 2m deep pool just upstream of some rapids. There are a few rope swings hanging from a tree on the east bank and there’s a small cliff to jump in from too. Head further downstream there is a small natural beach (but keep eyes peeled for any roaming cows as they frequent the bank!) – a lovely quiet spot for some paddling or dipping.

For surfing …. The Wave in Easter Compton, South Gloucestershire

Get narly at The Wave, an incredible new £25m artificial surfing lake near Bristol. Pumping out 1000 waves per hour using the latest WaveGarden technology it’s a cracking way to spend the day on the water (aka falling in a lot). Book a 1.5 hour Beginners Lesson for £50 and learn the basics with a surf teacher on hand, or rock up and surf away if you are a bit of a pro. The Clubhouse has a stunning terrace to watch the action from and a delicious menu (currently in the 50% off Eat Our scheme too) Muddy Editor Sophie recently went down to road test the riptide – see our review here!

For kayaking …. Lake 32, Waterland Outdoor Pursuits, Somerford Keynes, Glos

Head to the naturally-fed Lake 32 if you want to kayak. Approximately 6ft in depth, it’s assessed annually by the Environmental Agency. There’s a self launch pontoon, but make sure to book on the site before hand as no walk ins are allowed or call the office on 01285 861202. There is a cafe but it has a pre-order system in place so order a snack or ice-cream to pick up after your session.

Also try Lake 86 nearby, which hires out kayaks and boats for hours of fun on the water.

For paddling on a beach …. The Cotswold Country Park and Beach, South Cerney, Glos

Fancy whiling away the day on a sandy beach beside a beautiful swimming lagoon? Of course you do. The Cotswold Country Park & Beach is the UK’s largest inland paddling beach. It currently has a capacity of 350 cars on site so make sure to pre-book or you won’t get in! There is a main beach, a separate paddling beach, funky pedalos and boats to hire (all cleaned in between users) and lots of green spaces. Staff are currently patrolling the site to help people stick to the social distancing and we highly recommend bringing your own delicious picnic.

For inflatable hijinks … AquaPark, Upton Warren in Worcs

This super-fun Aqua Park at Aztec Adventure in Upton Warren is open with reduced capacity (30 at a time instead of 80) so take them along for some top class slip and slide action in the lake. It costs £15 per person for one hour and is open until 27 Sept but make sure to prebook on their site. Wetsuits can be hired for an additional £5. And if they’re not worn out after that you can also hire kayaks and stand up paddleboards for £15 an hour too.

If you are Glos based and want some inflatable action head for the Cotswold Country Park & Beach’s new Aquaventure Pod. A brilliant inflatable obstacle course on a lake. Costs £120 for up to 6 people (includes wetsuit hire).

For stand-up paddleboarding … try SUP Stroud in Slimbridge, Glos

Whether you’re a pro-paddler or a wobbly beginner, book in for a session with SUP Stroud. Take in the rivers and canals of the area with expert instructor Fraser Withey. Based at the Black Shed Cafe in Slimbridge, groups of up to 8 can book but a parent or guardian is needed for any child under 16. To book message SUP Stroud via the website.

Over in Worcs head for the well-regarded Wittering SUP School, based on the pretty River Avon between Malvern and Evesham. An ASI accredited SUP School and fully Covid audited.

For outdoor swimming pool fun …. lidos in Glos & Worcs

Scoop your bikini and towel into a bag and head to one of Glos & Worc’s glorious lidos , you’ll find the heated Cirencester Open Air Pool is now open for for pre-booked swims or head to Cheltenham’s Sandford Lido to book in for one of the hour long sessions. Over in Worcs the lovely 40m long Droitwich Lido is opening from 01 August and pre-booked tickets can be found here. Take a hop over the border to go to Chippy’s art deco 25m Lido, like all the others, it’s open for pre-booking only.

Find more ideas here

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