Stay Safe in the Water
It is always important to be careful when around bodies of water. Scotland's countryside is home to many lochs, rivers, canals, and reservoirs which are a pretty sight to see, but please be especially careful when exploring with young children and people who are unable to swim.
Please read and follow any water safety advice, guidance and signage to keep yourself and others safe. Our coasts and waters are great places to visit for all the family, but make sure you plan ahead on tide times and temperature changes throughout the year. For more information, safety guidelines and helpful advice, visit
Outdoor Swimming Safety Advice
The crisp sea waters and calm lochs across Scotland are often enticing for a dip or swim, especially on a warm day. Whilst wild swimming in Scotland is allowed, there is some outdoor swimming safety advice you should follow:
Take a mate: it is important to never swim alone, even if you are an experienced swimmer. Tides and temperatures can change quickly, so it's always useful to be with someone else in case you get into trouble. Plus being with friends always makes things more enjoyable!
Take it slowly: if you're new to the sport it's a good idea to take things at a slower pace. Go in and out of the water quickly for your first few swims to adjust to the cold water, and stay close to the shoreline too.
Research your destination: read up on places to go wild swimming in Scotland, or take recommendations from other experienced swimmers, especially if you're just starting out. There are also community groups so you can meet up with like-minded people too. It is also good to research parking options and facilities nearby.
Nature: if you're swimming in the sea, be mindful of any local wildlife you may encounter. On the west coast you may come across basking sharks; they're not dangerous but a fin poking out the water might give you a fright! Also nesting grounds can be found in bushes and treelines near the shore, so make sure you don't disturb any habitats. In the summer, watch out for poisonous blue green algae and avoid swimming near it.
Be seen: wearing a colourful swim cap can help you be seen by other people, boats and lifeguards on the water, and by people on the shore. Also having a colourful safety 'tow' float, similar to an inflatable buoy, so that people can see you in the water.
Stay warm: even in the summer months, water in and around Scotland can drop to chilling temperatures, and jumping in and out of cold water can have an effect on your body. Make sure you pack a towel and a warm change of clothes for after your swim. Even a warm flask of hot chocolate or tea wouldn't go a miss!
Did you know bodies of water below 15°C are defined as cold water and can seriously affect your breathing and movement? Cold Water Shock can affect swimmers of all abilities and can be lethal if you don't know how to react properly. Remember, check weather and water conditions before heading out, wear an appropriate wetsuit, and take a floatation device too.
Find out more about respecting the water and how to enjoy Scotland's lochs and beaches safely.
What to Wear for Wild Swimming and Watersports in Scotland?
It is important to wrap up warm for wild swimming in Scotland. A wet suit, swimming costume, warm clothing for afterwards, towels, goggles, flip flips or sandals, and a warm jacket are essential things to pack. It is also a good idea to bring a warm drink and sugary snacks for afterwards too.
Watch how to stay safe in Scotland's waters for more information and top tips.