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Richard Gaston's Top 5 Wild Swimming Locations in Scotland

Fairy Pools

Author of the new Wild Guide Scotland, Richard Gaston, shares his top 5 Scottish wild swimming locations in Scotland.

The water quality is often exceptional, but temperatures are very low. That said, after the initial shock of plunging in, wild swimming in Scotland provides an incredibly invigorating and therapeutic experience all set against a backdrop of jaw-dropping scenery; plunge into a deep highland river pool, bathe in calm island seas or enjoy a slow swim across a still, wild loch fringed with ancient Scots pine.

About the book

Scot Book

Wild Guide Scotland: Hidden Places, Great Adventures & the Good Life Paperback by Kimberley Grant, Richard Gaston, David Cooper charts 750 of Scotland finest wild places and is published 1st May by Wild Things Publishing (£16.99). Readers can receive a 20% discount and free P&P with code 'calmac' at Wild Things Publishing.


1. Fairy Pools

One of Scotland's most enchanting wild swimming spots, the crystal-clear pools lie at the foot of the dramatic Black Cuillin mountain range. Follow the stream towards the mountain and explore the numerous turquoise pools, small waterfalls and even an underwater stone arch.


From the B8009 just SE of Carbost take the turn signed Glenbrittle 400m E of IV47 8ST. After 4 miles find Fairy Pool car park on L. Cross road and follow the clear path down and then up the valley, crossing the minor stream and then keeping the Allt Coir a' Mhadaidh river on your R for ¾ mile to find several falls and pools.

20 mins, 57.2496, -6.2547


2. Coire Ardair & Creag Meagaidh

Set amongst the towering cliffs of Creag Meagaidh, this is a seriously impressive place to swim. Fed from icy snowmelt and water flowing off the plateau above, it is a bracing dip, but one that is second to none in its alpine splendour.


From the car park at Creag Meagaidth reserve at Aberarder on the A86 (approx 4 miles SW of PH20 1BX), head out on well-constructed paths, past a whitewashed farmhouse with picnic tables outside. At fork, follow sign for Coire Ardair. A good path hugs the N side of the Glen, with ever-increasing views of the cliffs ahead.

2 hours, 56.9593, -4.5677


3. Loch Beinn a' Mheadhoin

Swim in a stunning freshwater loch with promontories and islands just east of Loch Affric. There are plenty of great spots on the foreshore to camp and swim from, including a romantic sandy beach dotted with ancient tree stumps, which make great seats for sitting on around your campfire.


From Cannich on the A381 take the road signed Glen Affric past IV4 7NB. Roughly a quarter of the way up the loch, there is a large layby. Head down the bank towards the island linked to the shore by a sandy beach with tree stumps.

5 mins, 57.2832, -4.9280


4. Achmelvich

One of the most enticing beaches in the north of the country - and there's a fair amount of competition. Achmelvich is a paradise of multiple small beaches with crystal clear water and pure white sands, nestled amongst the rocky bays of Assynt's coastline. Perfect for an afternoon dip.


From the A837 just N of Lochinver take the B869 NW, then turn L after passing sign for Achmelvich, past IV27 4JB to park at the road end next to the beach.

5 mins, 58.1703, -5.3069


5. Easdale Slate Quarries

Magical old steep-sided slate quarries are now filled with Mediterranean-blue sea water, and offer a more sheltered swim on the beautiful car-free Easdale.


Off the A816 S of Oban, follow B844 to Seil and Easdale (PA34 4TB). From conservation village Ellenabeich, where free car park is signed at N end, cross to island by ferry and walk NW to quarries, 400m. The L-shaped pool is the usual swimming one.

20 mins, 56.2939, -5.6595




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