How to: Swim-hike to secret swim spots

May 07, 2024

Deakin & Blue Ocean Marble & Teal

Is there a better way to enjoy being out in nature than walking and wild swimming? We love packing a rucksack and hiking to a wild swim spot, whether that’s coastal or inland. It’s joyful, uplifting and healthy for body, mind and soul. And it's how we've found some of the most beautiful, remote, magical swim spots. So, we thought we’d put together this handy guide to help you get walking and dipping.

What is swim hiking?

The difference between swim hiking and going for a hike with an opportunist dip along the way is that the swim is the purpose of the walk. In other words, you plan your walk to get you to an elusive secret swim spot or beautiful lake, loch or cove.

If you’re a confident open water swimming, the swim could be part of the route. For example, you could walk to a lake, swim across it carrying your kit and then continue your walk on the other side.

Deakin & Blue The Essential Swimsuit

Why hike and swim?

Swim hikes add adventure, change perspectives and can take you off the beaten track. If you love finding remote, lesser-known swim spots and experiencing the escapism and spectacular scenery of hiking with the joy of wild swimming, then you’ll love swim-hiking.

You don’t have to be super fit or an amazing swimmer, either. Walking is one of the easiest, most underrated ways of looking after your health. It increases your stamina, strength and heart health. It has quite magical effects on your body like reducing blood glucose levels, boosting immunity and cutting the risk of developing breast cancer. It also releases feel-good hormones and immerses you in nature. Add this to the many benefits of dipping in cool, natural water and you’ll feel amazing.

And walking and swimming is really accessible – it’s something you can do pretty much anywhere. The UK has more than 140,000 miles of footpaths, including almost 2,800 miles of coast paths. You can explore footpaths and dipping spots wherever you go on holiday, too. You can also adapt your walks and swims to suit your ability and access needs, for example if you need to walk on a flat terrain or you use a wheelchair.

Plan your swims

Seeing as the swim is the main objective of swim hiking, we recommend starting with your swim spots. Rather than finding bits of blue on the map, it’s a good idea to use a resource like the Wild Swim map – it has lots of details about each swim spot, including how accessible it is. For coast path walks, you can use the Good Beach Guide to make sure it’s safe to swim at particular beaches.

If you're looking for remote, secret spots off the beaten track, it's worth identifying potential pools or coves on the map and then taking a closer look using Google Earth.

There are great guides to plan fabulous swim-walk experiences. Starting with Wild Things Publishing’s range of Wild Swimming Walks books, you can pick a tried and tested route based on how far you want to walk and the kind of dips you fancy.

You don’t have to go it alone. A simple Google of ‘swim-hike’ brings up plenty of guided trips, including The Secret Swim Hike in the Lake District and Above Below’s incredible selection of experiences.

Don’t forget to: Take into account swim safety – especially if you’re new to it.

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Plan your wild swimming walking route

Once you’ve decided where to swim, it’s worth scoping out the walk. Whether you’re planning your own adventure, picking an off-the-peg swim-walk or going with an organised trip, knowing how far the walk is and over what kind of terrain will help you plan what to wear and pack.

The Ramblers has great advice on how to plan walks. To map out your walk, we recommend the Ordinance Survey Explorer maps or OS App. We also like using the Plot A Route’s free route planner and AllTrails app for planning walks.

Don’t forget to: Allow extra time in your day for swimming and warming up afterwards.

Pack your swim-hike kit

What you wear and pack depends on a few factors including, how far you plan on walking and over what terrain, the weather forecast, how many swims you’re planning and how long you’ll be out. With all this in mind, you’ll need:

  • A decent pair of walking shoes, boots or trainers (we like these tips for choosing your footwear)
  • A comfortable rucksack
  • Enough food and water for the day (or plan in a pub/café stop)
  • Your D&B swimwear
  • A lightweight towel like our Quick Dry Beach Towel
  • An extra layer for warmth after your swim
  • Sunscreen or a waterproof (or both!)

If you’re not a fan of putting on wet swimwear, pack a swimsuit for each dip. For advanced swim-hikes where you swim from one point to another, we recommend adding goggles and a brightly coloured swim hat and investing in a RuckRaft.

Don’t forget to: Pack multiple D&B swimsuits for multiple swims.

Deakin & Blue Swimwear for swim hikes

Swim hiking dos and don’ts


  • Gen up on safe wild swimming
  • Make it a social adventure and go with a friend or two
  • Check the weather forecast right up until you leave and pack accordingly
  • Pack an extra layer in case the weather changes
  • Take a mobile phone for emergencies
  • Test out your new walking shoes before a big hike
  • Take all your litter home with you


  • Wear your swimwear under your clothes – not even D&B swimwear is comfortable enough for a long hike!
  • Jump straight into a body of water – you’ll be hot from walking and the temperature difference will cause cold water shock (plus, you don’t know what’s under the surface)
  • Use the same swimwear in different inland swim spots because you could introduce things like algae
  • Tell anyone about your secret swim spots - shhhh!