Leave Only Ripples: How to respect and protect the environment when wild swimming.

Swimming outdoors has become hugely popular, however not without its consequences for the natural environment. Although swimming in nature can be a wonderful experience, it's essential to respect the environment to avoid any unintentional damage caused by your adventures.

Here are some tips on how swimmers can lead by example in beautiful natural areas and enjoy this wonderful activity while preserving their local swim spot. 

Calm river scene at sunrise

Choosing your swim spot

When you're looking for a place to swim, it's a good idea to think about choosing a spot that's not too crowded. If you go during quieter times or seasons, you can help protect the natural areas and the habitats around them. Getting involved with the local community who live near where you swim, can be a fulfilling experience. You could even take the initiative to organise litter picks to maintain the cleanliness of popular spots. This not only helps you feel good but also ensures that these beautiful locations remain pristine.

Travel to your swim spot

Consider walking, biking, or lift sharing with your swim buddies to protect the environment and, as an added bonus you get some extra exercise. Remember to park in designated areas and stick to footpaths to avoid harming the ecosystem.

Respect the wildlife

It is magical swimming down a river and spotting the blue flash of a kingfisher dart past you. When you go for a swim, keep an eye out for any wildlife in the area and keep a safe distance and speak softly. Remember to respect creature's natural habitats and paths. Be sure not to leave any food or harmful objects behind that might harm them. If you are taking your dog with you, keep it on a lead in areas where there may be livestock or ground-dwelling wildlife. 

Prevent the spread of invasive species

When you go for a swim in the great outdoors, it's important to think of biosecurity. To put it simply, that means taking responsibility for preventing the spread of any foreign organisms or diseases from the spot where you swim to other areas. Some creatures or plants that don't belong in a certain environment can wreak havoc on the local ecosystem. Remember to CHECK - CLEAN - DRY your swim kit to get rid of any hitchhikers, like plants, seeds, or small creatures before visiting another location. 

If you would like to find out more about biosecurity and its impact on the Lake District, take a look at our earlier Waterblog post by Sara Barnes.

Crummock Water

 Crummock Water, Lake District. Credit - Sara Barnes

Don't be a firestarter

Hundreds of wild fires started in the UK between June and August last year (2022). Avoid lighting fires unless it is absolutely essential. 

Leave no trace

Pack light and bring reusable items on day-long adventures. Check you haven't left anything behind when it is time to leave by thoroughly packing up your swim kit and taking all your belongings with you, including small items such as food wrappers, bottles, and scraps. Keep an eye out for any debris or litter left behind by others, and if possible, please help by picking it up and taking it with you. 

Litter picking plastic bottles on a beach
Credit- Neustock Images

It is also worth bearing in mind that what you leave behind in the water can be just as important as what you do on land. Think about the skincare products you use and try to choose ones that won't harm aquatic life.  

Leave only ripples

Please pass this message on. By acting as a steward of the environment, your actions can inspire others to do the same and contribute to a cleaner environment.