Youlgreave swimming: wild swimming with kids in the Peak District

With this wonderfully warm weather we’ve been experiencing, we’ve been desperate for a proper paddle and swim with the kids. The Peak District may be landlocked and a fair drive to the coast, but with the fresh rivers weaving their way around the dales, there are some superb wild swimming spots to be found.

But with young kids especially, you need to know that the current isn’t too fast, that the water is easy to get into and out of, and that it is clean.

Wild swimming is one of our top things to do in the Peak District with kids, and our favourite spot has to be the Youlgreave swimming area on the River Bradford. Although wild swimming at Chatsworth is a close second, if only for its incredibly idyllic setting. Check out more Peak District wild swimming locations here.

Please note that there are are no toilets here and parking is very limited in the village, so please arrive early or late in the day. Do not bring BBQs, and take everything home with you.

How to get there

Click here for location of the Youlgreave swimming spot.

location of Youlgreave swimming area
map credit: Google Maps 2020

Just a ten minute drive south of Bakewell is the picturesque village of Youlgreave (sometimes spelt Youlgrave), which sits between the River Bradford and River Lathkill. On the River Bradford is a designated swimming area that has been carved out of the rock along the river.

There is a bus service from Bakewell, but the easiest way to get there (as with most places in the Peak District) is by car.

However, do note that parking is extremely limited in the village and the roads narrow. Arrive early to secure a parking space, and please be respectful to locals.

What to expect

Youlgreave swimming area sits within two steep banks, and is about 8 metres by 20 metres off the top of my head (I’ll measure it properly next time we visit). This has been carved out of the rock so that it’s deep enough to swim in, but is probably only 1.5 metres at its greatest depth in the middle (though this is of course seasonal).

The water flows through and then cascades over the edge, and there is also a ledge along the near side, which kids can stand up in and makes it very easy for getting in and out. You can take very small kids and toddlers paddling further up stream or down stream of the main swimming area.

There’s also a grassy area on the Youlgreave side that is a perfect spot for a picnic. There are no bins here, so please take everything home with you and leave the area as you found it.

Is the water clean?

Yes, the water is very clean due to the limestone rocks over which it flows, and the current is consistent. However, on warm summer days when kids have been jumping in, they disturb the silt at the bottom, so it can seem murky.

Is the water cold?

Yes! Absolutely bloody freezing!

I dress my kids in wetsuits, but there are often kids there in just normal swimwear. In fact, I’ve been in with just a swimming cozzie, and it’s amazing how quickly your body gets used to the temperature.

It’s certainly invigorating!

Youlgreave swimming

What’s lurking at the bottom of the river?

There are sharp rocks, silt and vegetation at the bottom, but it’s mostly limestone rock. This is wild swimming after all! My boys wear these sandals from Keen to protect their feet, although I go in bare foot.

Youlgreave swimming

What else is there to do in Youlgreave?

There as some lovely walking paths that follow alongside the River Bradford. Check out our easy Peak District walks post for details of one of our favourite family walks starting in Youlgreave.

The characterful, down-to-earth George Hotel pub at the centre of the village is an excellent place for lunch and a local pint, plus they do kids meals. There’s no beer garden here. But when you’ve finished your meal, the kids can head to the large rec with a playground. This is a little further out of the village along Alport Lane.


You may also want to read:
Wild swimming at Chatsworth
Best family camping in the Peak District
The BEST Peak District wild swimming locations

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