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Top 10 Wild Swimming spots in the Highlands and Moray


By Federica Stefani

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Summer is finally giving residents of the north warmer temperatures and long, sunny days, making this just the perfect time to explore the best spots to cool down with a splash!

With this year being the Year of Coasts and Waters, who needs any more excuses to give wild swimming in the north of Scotland a go?

This activity is becoming hugely popular lately, and especially those planning for a staycation will not be disappointed by the sheer beauty of the Scottish lochs, shores and rivers.

Swimming in cool waters can be a fantastic booster for your physical and mental health and many are advocating its benefits.

If you are new to this practice, it is always important to do some prep for your own health and safety – resources like this video from Swimming Scotland are really useful:

Keeping an eye on the latest guidance on travel restrictions, then you are ready to go outdoors and find some amazing places for wild swimming.

Here are a few of our favourite spots across the Highlands and Moray.

Achmelvich Bay, Sutherland

Achmelvich beach, Sutherland..
Achmelvich beach, Sutherland..

A stunning beach located on Lochinver, on the popular North Coast 500 route, Achmelvich bay looks like a tropical paradise (only a few degrees cooler!).

This is an amazing place for snorkeling and wildlife spotting. Although it can get busy over summer, and a campsite is located nearby, a dip in these waters will surely make for a memorable experience.

Nairn Beach

Sunset at Nairn Beach. Picture: Mora Mackintosh
Sunset at Nairn Beach. Picture: Mora Mackintosh

One of the most popular beaches on the Moray Coast, Nairn Beach has the big advantage of being both very accessible and surprisingly vast, which makes it easy to find a quiet spot even on busier days.

A relaxing walk among the sand dunes is the perfect warm up to a refreshing dip – even better if you manage to catch the stunning sunset views.

Randolph’s Leap, Forres

Randolph's Leap - at the entrance to the gorge on the River Findhorn. Photo by John Davidson.
Randolph's Leap - at the entrance to the gorge on the River Findhorn. Photo by John Davidson.

Heading east from Nairn, in the proximity of Forres, is the stunning gorge on the River Findhorn which is Randolph’s Leap. This spot takes his name after a clash happened between two families in the 14th century, when Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray. raided the castle of Sir Alex Cumming whose family owned the lands on the opposite side of the river. The story goes that Cummings fled the castle and jumped across in this spot. With a river pool and some shallow points for paddling, this is a very scenic spot for a dip.

Plodda Falls, Cannich

A double rainbow at Plodda Falls, near Tomich, photographed by Charlie Cleland.
A double rainbow at Plodda Falls, near Tomich, photographed by Charlie Cleland.

You can safely see this breathtaking waterfall from the top, but you can also plunge in the river waters in a river pool just after this spectacular 40metres-high waterfall. The canyon near Tomich, in Glen Affric, is surrounded by a verdant forest, and the area offers nice and relatively easy walks that can start or end up with a splash (mind you, it's chilly!).

Dores, Loch Ness

Visitors enjoy the warm weather at Dores beach...Picture: Gary Anthony..
Visitors enjoy the warm weather at Dores beach...Picture: Gary Anthony..

Another easy-to-get-to beach, with a lovely woodland nearby, Dores is a lovely spot if you want to dip into one of the world’s most famous lochs. Just bear in mind that Loch Ness is exceptionally deep and due to the volume of water it contains, is therefore kept to a lovely chilly temperature throughout the year.

If you are lucky, you may also spot a certain famous monster.

Lochindorb, Grantown-on-Spey

Lochindorb Castle by Cameron Carroll of RedBeard Productions.
Lochindorb Castle by Cameron Carroll of RedBeard Productions.

Just north of Grantown-on-Spey, this loch offers a dip with quite a scenic and unusual vue: in the middle of its waters in fact sits a 13th century island castle, making this the perfect dip for lovers of history.

Bow Fiddle Rock, Portknockie

Bow fiddle rock. Picture by Lukassek, Fotolia.
Bow fiddle rock. Picture by Lukassek, Fotolia.

A natural arch in the sea, which according to some resembles a bow fiddle, is a prominent landmark on the Moray Coast and one that people come to visit from all over Scotland (and beyond). A little cove is accessible by a short swim, and if luck strikes you you may even spot some dolphins swimming near the shore.

Findhorn Beach

Seals gather during low tide at the mouth of the River Findhorn near the village of Findhorn and the Culbin forest. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..
Seals gather during low tide at the mouth of the River Findhorn near the village of Findhorn and the Culbin forest. ..Picture: Daniel Forsyth..

Another popular seaside attraction on the Moray Coast, Findhorn beach extends between the namesake village and Burghhead. The lovely long stretch of sand and pebbles is also a favourite spot for seals, who can often be spotted from afar on the beach, and you may even find yourself swimming nearby one (in which case it is always worth paying extra attention while paddling).

Big Burn, Sutherland

Big Burn Waterfall, at Golspie. Picture by: Irene Roberts.
Big Burn Waterfall, at Golspie. Picture by: Irene Roberts.

Another scenic spot for a plunge, the Big Burn waterfall is easy to reach after a short walk across the woodland, a beautiful spot for gorge explorers!

River Feshie, Cairngorms National Park

The River Feshie in the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland. Picture by: James Shooter
The River Feshie in the Cairngorms National Park, Scotland. Picture by: James Shooter

The Cairngorms are full of beautiful lochs and rivers that can make amazing spots for a plunge in the wild, but we would definitely recommend heading towards Feshiebridge and have a dip in the pools of clear water formed in the River Feshie.

Enjoy the swim!


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