Wild Swimming in the Highlands & Islands of Scotland

Posted by True Highlands in Kit and Caboodle | 4 comments

There is something truly special about going for a wild swim. Whether it’s to escape the midges, to cool down after a long day hillwalking or to explore some remote or curious locations then the Highlands are blessed with some of the finest locations for a quick dip, an epic swim or a wee paddle. Part of the attraction is not just the act of swimming, it is the places that this can take you and the things you can see. Here is our selection of rivers, waterfalls, lochs, pools and bays that can demonstrate why the highlands is the most exciting swimming destination in the world. Sculptures, castles, wildlife, and mythology, all you have to do is get wet.

Caithness NE Sutherland, Orkney & Shetland

The Trinkie, Wick

This natural seawater pool beside the old coastguard station was carved by volunteers in the 1930s from part of a disused quarry. The intention was to attract visitors to the town to cash in on the post war seaside holiday boom and, although not as popular today, the pool is still scrubbed and whitewashed every year by enthusiastic locals. A great spot for a family picnic on a sunny day.


Bow Fiddle Rock, Portknockie

This huge natural arch sits in a little cove accessible by a short swim. It draws visitors from all over Scotland to see it but by far the best way to take in this geological wonder is to get up close and swim through it. If you are really lucky you may also spot Moray dolphins which swim close by.

Wester Ross & Outer Hebrides

Tollie Bay, Loch Maree

For a truly immersive Highland experience this is hard to beat. A few steps from the secluded car park by the loch’s edge and you can be swimming in a wild panorama with little sign of civilisation. You can see down the length of Loch Maree on a clear day and a mountainous ridgeline towering over you.

Inverness & Nairn


The lair of the Wolf of Badenoch is a fabulously well preserved castle on a tiny island in the middle of Lochindorb. Due to its location it is rarely visited, with no organised boat trips which makes it a special, unique reward for those making the journey.

Skye & Lochalsh

Fairy pools, Glenbrittle

One of the most otherworldly and photogenic swimming spots in the country is this series of pools to be found a short walk up the glen. Traditionally a favourite spot for hikers to dive into after coming down from the Cuillin Ridge they are also a worthwhile destination in themselves. The water is crystal clear, there are a number of pools deep enough to dive into safely and an underwater arch you can swim through.

Mid and East Sutherland

Crackaig Beach, Brora

Skinny dipping feels like one of life’s guilty pleasures, even in the most remote parts of the highlands where you are certain not to encounter another person you can still worry about being spotted or causing offence. Nudism has fallen out of fashion somewhat, but for those that want to indulge, there is still one official naturist beach left in Scotland. The campsite owner at Crackaig Beach near Brora is an enthusiast so has designated a part of the beach here. It is secluded and well signposted so you need not worry about offending passing dog walkers.

Black Isle, Mid & Easter Ross

The Balintore Mermaid

It’s common when out swimming in Scotland to see wildlife, not so much a mermaid. If however you want to top your friends’ tales of swimming with dolphins then head for the beach at Balintore. As part of the Seaboard Sculpture Trail a life sized statue of a mermaid has been sited on a rock just below the tide line. At low tide you can walk out to it but when the tide comes in you have to swim.

Ardnamurchan & Mull

Erraid Island

If you follow the path round the side of Erraid for a few miles you will be rewarded with a wide expanse of white sand and cyan blue lagoons. If this beach were in an accessible part of Europe then you could guarantee overcrowding and development as far as the eye could see. Instead, you can sunbathe and swim here with little chance of seeing another soul.

Fort William & Lochaber

The Witch’s Cauldron, Clunes

Don’t be deterred by the quirky name, there is nothing to fear here except enchantment by your perfect surroundings. The stunning series of three falls above this pool featured in the film Rob Roy and make for great diving and a spot for a picnic afterwards.

Loch Ness

Plodda falls

Do you remember as a kid getting ice cream headaches when you ate too much too quickly, but still carried on as it was so good? That’s the best way to describe the feeling of standing under Scotland’s second highest waterfall. It’s a bit of a tricky scramble to get here but the rewards are a deep plunge pool, scenic swimming and the most refreshing natural shower you can imagine.

Aviemore & the Cairngorms

Loch Morlich

Loch Morlich has an amazing sandy beach and is easily accessible from the car. Being a watersports hub it has great facilities such as wetsuit hire for those who would like a winter swim, and a café where you can take in the views of the Cairngorm Mountains afterwards.

Argyll, Arran, Jura & Islay

Gulf of Corryvreckan

The name itself is enough to strike fear into the heart of sailors but believe it or not experienced swimmers regularly make the pilgrimage here to swim across from Jura to Scarba. The infamous whirlpool is only actually a danger on the lee tide so, providing you are experienced enough to time your swim correctly, then you can enjoy this spectacular crossing. Minke whales, porpoises and seals have been spotted by adventurous swimmers here but be warned, this is not for the faint hearted and boat support is highly recommended.

North West Sutherland

Achmelvich Beach

White sands and sheltered seas make this one of the best beach swimming areas in the country. It’s usually quiet and the further out you swim the better the views as you look back to shore, in particular the majestic profile of Suilven towering over everything else on the horizon.

 Other Islands

Easdale Quarry

A legacy of the slate quarrying that once dominated this tiny car-free island is this curious L-shaped swimmers’ pool. Situated next to the sea, but above it, you can splash about in the clear blue water while looking down on the sea below.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Wherever you choose to swim, please make sure it’s safe to do so and someone knows where you are.


All photos taken from either Creative Commons or used with the permission of the photographer. If you feel your copyright has been infringed, please email us.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Comments (4)
  1. Sue Alexander says:

    I swam at Tollie Bay, Loch Maree last week. Also at Firemoor beach, Red Point North beach and Clachtoll. I also had a couple of river dips. I am nearly 82 and love wild swimming.

    • True Highlands says:

      Hi Sue and thank you for sharing that with us. You’re an inspiration and I’m sure wild swimming is keeping you young!

  2. Anne says:

    Sue you have inspired me – I will there next week and plan to try your swimming spots

    • True Highlands says:


Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 468 other subscribers