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Wild Swimming in Keepers Pond
Wild Swimming in Keepers Pond

Wild and Open Water Swimming in Monmouthshire

Monmouthshire has been shaped by water, both geographically and historically, so it’s no surprise that it presents so many opportunities for wild and open water swimming. The northern and eastern borders of the county are formed by the meandering Wye and Monnow Rivers and in the west the river Usk winds its way through the market towns of Usk and Abergavenny. There are also two man-made lakes, one at Llandegfedd, Coed Y Paen, (which offers organised open water swimming sessions for members) and Keeper’s Pond which offers an infinity pool type wild swimming experience within the Blaenavon World Heritage Site.

If you’re looking to experience the physical and mental health benefits of wild and open water swimming (better sleep, increased happiness, a boosted immune system and help to prevent or manage long-term health conditions) we have some amazing wild and open water swimming experiences to check out. 

Have a look at the safety and landowner permission information at the bottom of this page and / or book onto an introduction to open water swimming with a qualified instructor if you're a novice before you start. Then take to the open water and experience some of the best wild swimming with spectacular views anywhere!

The best places to wild / open water swim in Monmouthshire

Usk Island Picnic Site (NP15 1SZ, near Usk)

Pleasant, gentle river swim. Park in the Usk Island car park on the A472 (on the way out of Usk as you are leaving the town). 

Enter the river straight over the bank from the car park. The water is deep under the old railway bridge. Swim up stream, the left hand side is deeper. There is an 800m swimable section until you reach a man-made narrowing. It's fun to try & swim up this 'torrent' like an endless pool. The water beyond this point is too shallow for swimming for at least 50m.

There's a regular swim from Usk Island at 6pm on Wednesdays.

Usk Island

Keeper’s Pond (NP4 9SS, between Abergavenny & Blaenavon)

It’s easy to see what makes this place so special for wild swimming. There are superb ‘infinity pool’ views from this high-level man-made lake which is perfect for a summer swim. The lake was built in 1817 and it once powered the Garn Ddyrys iron forge. Below you can still see the remains of old furnaces and huge, weirdly shaped rocks formed from molten slag. Keeper's Pond is on the B4246 a mile north from Blaenavon. Pond and car park opp turn off for NP4 9SS. (Also called Pen-fford-goch. 51.7910, -3.0817).

Walk: The Blorenge High Level Walk. A 4 mile walk around the top of the Blorenge Mountain, starting and finishing at Keeper's Pond.

Keeper's Pond

River Monnow, Skenfrith (NP7 8UH)

What could be more enchanting than a swim in the shadow of a 13th century castle ruin? With lots of space on the grassy slopes for children to play and for a picnic, this deep section of the Monnow has an island and a rope swing. There’s an easy walk into the water from under the shady trees, making this spot perfect for big and little swimmers.

How to get there: Walk through the ruins of the castle in the village of Skenfrith to reach the river bank.

Skenfrith Crown Copyright

Tregate Bridge. NP25 5QG (near St. Maughan's Green)

On the river Monnow in Monmouth, there are pools and shallow areas for paddling, with a picnic area on the banks. Landowner permission required.

Llandegfedd Lake (NP4 0SY)

A large 434 acre water supply reservoir, constructed in the early 1960s by Cardiff Corporation to provide a source of clean drinking water for the rapidly growing city of Cardiff. Now owned and cared for by Welsh Water as a hub for health, wellbeing and recreation. Offers organised open water swimming sessions for members.

Llandegfedd Reservoir

Bugle Bridge, Llanthony (NP7 7NN)

Deep enough for a new year’s day jump – but check the depth in summer! A footpath runs into the field from the north, from further up the lane.

Monmouth Rowing Club (NP25 3DP)

Swim in the Wye at Monmouth. Use the second set of steps on the town side of the river to avoid getting tangled up with rowers. Adventurous swimmers can try swimming to Dixton Church and back.

There's a regular swim at Monmouth Rowing Club on Tuesdays at 1.30pm.

'Introduction to Wild Swimming' courses in Monmouthshire

Swim Wild Wye

Embrace the elements with wild swim specialist Angela Jones and safety team on these introduction to Wild water swimming Events in Usk & Symonds Yat.

  • 31st July 2021 (Symonds Yat)

Open water swimming induction for members at Llandegfedd Lake

A large 434 acre water supply reservoir offering open water swimming for members:

Facebook groups to join for up to date information:

Check out the following links for more on Wild Swimming:

It is your responsibility to stay safe when wild swimming and to research your chosen swim spot thoroughly. For any sites not on a public right of way explicit landowner consent is required and always adhere to the Wild Swimming Code. Monmouthshire is a haven for wildlife with more than 50 statutory designated conservation sites (50 SSSIs and 6 SACs), and over 700 local wildlife sites (non-statutory designations), so take care not to cause any damage to sites or to disturb ground nesting birds. 

Be aware of the changeable nature of wild swimming spots. What may be a safe place to swim one day, may not be the next, due to changes in water quality, weather or temperature.

Assess locations for safe entry and exit points, know your limits, check for obstructions and water depth before entering a wild swim spot. Beware of strong undercurrents and poor water quality and do not swim on your own.

Wild Swimming events

Wild Swimming in Monmouthshire video

10 Top Tips for Safe Wild Swimming in Monmouthshire

  1. It’s important to build cold water exposure (and therefore cold adaptation) regularly and systematically, so keep your regular summer swimming going into autumn, and then beyond – don’t take a big break in autumn and then try and start winter dipping in January
  2. Decide whether you’re going to be a bare skin plunger or a neoprene swimmer – both are cold, but the former means much quicker, shaper immersions and the latter means you can stay in longer and therefore swim further
  3. Choose a simple easy place which you can easily commit to and feel safe in.
  4. Make sure there is a short, simple challenge to complete, such as swimming to the other side of a small river and back, or up to a tree and back, or simply getting in, ducking under, and out. Start with a simple, easy challenge – you may get better at it, but the water is only going to get colder
  5. Find someone to cold dip with you, both for safety and for peer comradery / moral support
  6. Whether you wear a full wetsuit or not, booties, gloves and hats can make a big difference and stop pain in the extremities
  7. It’s easier to go in if you are warm before, and you will last longer with a good store of body temperature. Ending a run with a swim is ideal, but otherwise make sure you arrive feel overly warm
  8. Don’t stay in too long, shivering is the first stage of hypothermia and hypothermia is NOT good for the immune system. Regular short dips are great, but hypothermia-inducing long swims are not
  9. Warm up quickly afterwards, with clothes and hot drinks, but be aware of ‘afterdrop’ – body temperature will continue dropping for up to 10 minutes after getting out as cold blood from the extremities returns to the core
  10. If you are starting out, be cautious of cold water shock, which can create a serious cardio-vascular shock in some people. Don’t just jump in, ease your body in slowly and see how it reacts.
Welsh Dragon