Youlgreave swimming: wild swimming with kids in the Peak District
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.
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. There is a small car park here (bring coins to pay the honesty box).
What to expect
Youlgreave swimming area sits within two steep banks, and is about 8 metres by 20 metres. 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!
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.
What else is there to do in Youlgreave?
There as some lovely walking paths that follow alongside the River Bradford. Check out our Alport to Youlgreave walk, which is just 3km and loops either side of the River Bradford.
There are no less than three pubs to choose from in Youlgreave; you really are spoilt for choice! There is also a large rec with a playground a little further out of the village along Alport Lane.
Hello! 'Peak District Kids' is the go-to website for parents both visiting and living in the Peak District run by Bakewell-based Mum, Jenny. Find out about the best walks, bike rides, attractions and events for families in the UK's oldest National Park.