Swimming underwater

Wild swimming near Edinburgh

  • Share on Facebook

Edinburgh is a surprisingly good place for wild swimming, with sections of the Water of Leith, Portobello Beach, Pentland Hills streams, ponds and select reservoirs all beckoning the intrepid dipper.  

Below we present some of the very best, all within easy reach of us at Seton Sands. Given Scottish water temperatures at the best of times, remember to bring a lot of dry clothing to put on after you emerge!

Staying safe

Staying safe

We partner with the RNLI to reinforce our safe and secure message around safety in the water. Take a look at our guide to staying safe before enjoying any of the wild swimming spots featured in this article!

The waters off Portobello Beach

The waters off Portobello Beach
Portobello: very much in Edinburgh (handily!)

8 miles from Seton Sands

A mile or more of sandy beach flanks the Firth of Forth just southeast of Leith, and on a summer’s day, it’s a lovely spot for a salty sea dip. It’s a popular spot, so you’ll not be alone in the water and the RNLI run swim safe lessons here for the nervous. 

After your dip, there are plenty of inviting pubs and cafes for a restorative hot drink or meal, and dogs are welcome on the sand too.

Thriepmuir Reservoir

20 miles from Seton Sands

What could be more inviting than a dip in a reservoir at the foot of the gently rolling Pentland Hills? Thriepmuir is a long-established dipper’s paradise, with several spots to enter from and gently sloping banks. You can hide your clothes under the trees and enjoy the purple heather-covered hills and pine trees swaying in the breeze. 

The slopes nearby are well worth a wander. if you’re feeling energetic, walk around the side of Black Hill and you’ll reach Loganlea Reservoir and Glencorse after three miles.

Cramond's waters

Cramond's waters

16 miles from Seton Sands

Edinburgh’s other less well-known beach is at Cramond, to the west of the city at the mouth of the River Almond. There’s a promenade and sandy beach here, with plenty of places to take a dip. 

At low tide, intrepid explorers can walk along the usually submerged causeway to reach Cramond Island, which still contains the abandoned pillboxes that once constituted wartime defences. Make sure you don’t get cut off, however, or you may be spending the night in one!

Bonaly Reservoir

18 miles from Seton Sands

This pocket-sized reservoir is a perfect spot for a dip. Park at the Bonaly Park car park and walk directly up the hill through the trees. After enjoying the astonishing views, after around a mile and a half of climbing, you’ll see the reservoir’s bank on your right.  

Make sure you enter the water away from the sluice gate – there are plenty of places to do so. On a summer’s day the trees and surrounding hills provide protection from the breeze, and it can even become a bit of a suntrap so don’t be surprised if you see the odd picnic.

Discover breaks in Scotland

Seton Sands self catering holidays

Seton Sands, Scotland

3 nights from £79
Craig Tara self catering holidays

Craig Tara, Scotland

4 nights from £49

Yellowcraigs and Gullane's waters

Yellowcraigs and Gullane's waters
Yellowcraig: a real breath of fresh air

7-10 miles from Seton Sands

If you don’t fancy a drive into Edinburgh and you want a more secluded beach to explore, both Gullane and Yellowcraigs, to the east of Seton Sands, are great choices. Gullane has sweeping dunes to jump off and lots of fine, golden sand. There’s a wide, curving bay and rocky inlets with rockpools in which to look for crabs. 

Yellowcraigs, three miles further east, is even quieter, so if it’s solitude you’re seeking you may find it there. You’ll be able to see the conical protrusion of Berwick Law, and the pretty seaside town of North Berwick is yet another possible spot for a sea dip, and has its own sandy beach.

Wardie Bay, Newhaven

Wardie Bay, Newhaven

13 miles from Seton Sands

Just west of the Port of Leith lie Newhaven and Granton Harbour. Between those two nestles Wardie Bay, a popular wild swimming spot, which even has its own local club, the Wild Ones, who swim on Sunday afternoons.

The neighbouring breakwater makes the sea comparatively calm here, so it is good for first timers. Do, however, look out for fishing boats or yachts.

Gladhouse Reservoir

Gladhouse Reservoir

19 miles from Seton Sands

Possibly the most popular Edinburgh Reservoir for wild swimming is Gladhouse. There’s no public transport here, so travel by car. It can be found off the B6372 near Gorebridge. 

The eastern side of this large reservoir offers the easiest and safest entry points. There are trees under which to place your belongings, especially those all-important towels and warm layers!

Glencorse Reservoir

17 miles from Seton Sands

One of the prettiest of the Pentland reservoirs, Glencorse is surrounded by some of the biggest Pentland peaks, including Scald Law at 579 metres. There’s a very accessible path up the latter if you’re feeling energetic.  

To access the water park up on the road that runs alongside, and make sure you keep away from the plentiful fishermen (unless you’re scaring the fish in their direction!) Access can be found at Flotterstone, where there’s an excellent pub and restaurant - The Flotterstone Inn.

Start planning your Great British break

Get the latest Haven exclusives!

Receive Haven news and offers to your inbox

By providing your email address, you are consenting to being updated on all things Haven! Manage preferences via your account or by clicking the update preferences link in our emails. Privacy policy