Peak Performance: The Best Peak District Swimming Spots

This year marks 70 years since the Peak District became Britain’s first national park,and while many attribute the creation of national parks to the pressure brought to bear by hikers such as the famous 1932 Kinder trespassers, the area is not just a great place to go walking.

While the local geology ensures it lacks any lakes of significant size, there are still many great wild swimming spots for anyone wanting to put on their thermal swim socks and take a dip.

There are a couple of small moorside pools that would probably be labelled tarns if they were in the Lakes - Black Mere Pool and the Mermaid’s Pool. The former is located above the Staffordshire town of Leek, while the latter is in the more dramatic setting of the slops of Kinder Scout, close to Kinder Downfall.

Both are steeped in myth and legend. Black Mere Pool is said to be bottomless and haunted, while it was claimed anyone visiting the Mermaid’s Pool on Easter Sunday who saw the mermaid would live forever.

There are also some great rivers and streams to swim in, with the River Derwent at Chatsworth or upstream at Slippery Stones near Fairholmes offering great options.

Another superb spot is at Three Shires Head near Macclesfield. A stone bridge and a waterfall adds extra scenery to this great spot on the upper River Dane at the point where Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire meet.

Other popular suggestions include the River Bradford at Youlgreave, a few miles from Bakewell.

Of course, there are a few places to avoid. There are several large reservoirs where swimming is prohibited and often very dangerous.

We must also regretfully inform fans of Jane Austen that while ‘Mr Darcy’s Pool’ is in the Peak District - Lyme Park in Cheshire to be precise - it is in real life a muddy hole in a sheep field that neither Colin Firth nor anyone else would be in a hurry to go for a dip in. 

Perhaps it’s as well there are so many great alternatives in the national park.

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