8 wild waterfall swims
I have always loved waterfalls. Whether I'm shooting with a slow shutter speed to capture the movement of the water, or just admiring these powerful forces of nature, waterfalls have always felt magical to me.
Since I started wild swimming last year, I have discovered my love for swimming in waterfall pools. Swimming in lakes is peaceful, swimming in the sea is exciting, but swimming near waterfalls is both – making this type of wild swimming my favourite. There's something incredibly exhilarating about floating in a waterfall pool while water crashes down nearby.
So, without further ado, here are my top 8 wild waterfall swims...
1. East Okement, Dartmoor (Devon, United Kingdom)
On the first day of our only camping trip on Dartmoor in 2021, we found a series of small waterfalls along the East Okement River. We explored the different pools, carefully navigating the slippery rocks and deep water. I particularly enjoyed lying at the top of one of the waterfalls, feeling the water flow around me. Can you tell I'm having fun!?
2. Salmon Creek Falls, Big Sur (California, United States)
In August, while driving along Highway 101 through Big Sur, we pulled over and made the short walk to Salmon Creek Falls. That late in the season, the waterfall itself was just a trickle, but with no one else around, and the setting sun casting a magical golden light on the pool, I stripped off and went for a swim. The water, although cold, felt deliciously soft on my skin. It was a beautifully relaxing moment...until we heard voices approaching and realised other people were arriving to see the waterfall!
3. East Okement, Dartmoor (Devon, United Kingdom)
After a night camping on the moor, we packed up our campsite early so we could be at this stunning waterfall before anyone else arrived. The water was freezing, but I had an amazing time swimming in the deep plunge pool and carefully climbing on the rocks next to the tumbling water. I especially love some of the photos Brett managed to capture, the waterfall blurred behind me with a long exposure.
4. Moonlight Falls, Sabrina Basin (California, United States)
After a full day of hiking in the Sierras, we were relieved to have finally reached our day's destination: Moonlight Falls. The waterfall was nestled amongst a beautiful landscape of vast granite peaks, making it the most dramatic location of my waterfall swims. Brett and I immediately stripped down for a quick dip in the freezing waters of the pool, before warming up with tea prepared on our camping stove.
5. Scabbacome Sands, South West Coast Path (Devon, United Kingdom)
Okay so this might not really count as there was no pool, so no swimming, but I've included it because it was my first waterfall "dip" of 2021. We were hiking on the SWCP with some friends and stopped for lunch on the beach at Scabbacome Sands. After eating, we all had a go standing under the water that was pouring down the side of the rocks at the edge of the beach. I was surprised to find that it was much colder than the water in the sea!
6. Green Valley Falls, San Diego (California, United States)
Our first swim in California occurred when we ventured into the hills east of San Diego to visit the small town of Julian. The temperatures were over 100ºF (37ºC), so we decided to stop at Green Valley Falls to cool off. Like Salmon Creek Falls, the waterfall wasn't very powerful, but we still enjoyed exploring the various rocky pools along the river.
7. East Dart Waterfall, Dartmoor (Devon, United Kingdom)
Brett, Paul and I spent two days hiking on Dartmoor over the Easter weekend – our first camping trip of 2022! The weather was remarkably beautiful (sun on Dartmoor!? Incredible), so Brett and I changed into our swimsuits for a short swim in the pool below the waterfall. Afterwards, I walked up to the bigger waterfall and carefully found a spot to stand where I could put my hands under the powerful stream of water.
8. Campsie Glen Waterfalls, outside of Glasgow (Scotland, United Kingdom)
While visiting my sister in Glasgow in November, Brett and I ventured outside of the city to get a taste of nature. Our destination was the Campsie Glen waterfalls, below which I had a very quick dip – aka ducked into the water up to my chin and then got out because the water was so frigid.
Thanks to Brett for capturing the images featured in this blog post and for joining me on these adventures. The swimsuit I'm wearing in most of these shots is from DavyJ, a sustainable swimwear brand based in Devon.
I have enjoyed getting to connect with nature in this new way and look forward to more wild waterfall swims in the future! Have you swum in any waterfall pools before? Be careful if you do: the rocks can be slippery and fast moving water can be dangerous. I am always very cautious while swimming in these locations and never go alone. Learn more about some of the hazards of waterfall swimming here. Stay safe, and have fun!